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HHS: Workplace Bullying Is Like Domestic Violence

8:01 AM, Oct 22, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
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"Bullying doesn't just happen on the playground," so begins an article in an online Health and Human Services (HHS) publication called Let's Talk. The HHS's Federal Occupational Health agency cites a recent study finding that more than a third of Americans report being bullied at work, though only 15 percent report having observed bullying in the workplace. The newsletter is illustrated with this graphic:

The article defines bullying as "aggressive, inappropriate, and unreasonable behavior," and says that bullying "[h]as many of the same characteristics of domestic violence – the abuser uses intimidation and manipulation to get what he or she wants."  "Typical" behaviors by a workplace bully cited in the article include: threats, intimidation, humiliation, exclusion from your peer group, and harassment.

Although the study referenced is not notated in the article, a CareerBuilder study from August 2012 reports the 35 percent figure.  That study reported that the most common forms of bullying were:

· Falsely accused of mistakes – 42 percent

· Ignored – 39 percent

· Used different standards/policies toward me than other workers – 36 percent

· Constantly criticized – 33 percent

· Someone didn’t perform certain duties, which negatively impacted my work – 31 percent

· Yelled at by boss in front of coworkers – 28 percent

· Belittling comments were made about my work during meetings – 24 percent

· Gossiped about – 26 percent

· Someone stole credit for my work – 19 percent

· Purposely excluded from projects or meetings – 18 percent

· Picked on for personal attributes – 15 percent

Although the HHS article compared workplace bullying to domestic violence, neither actual violence or threats of physical harm appeared on the list of reported behaviors.

The newsletter offers these tips on "working it out yourself":

  • If you are being bullied and you don’t feel physically threatened, you can assert yourself by:
  • Telling the person how their behavior is negatively impacting your work
  • Setting boundaries – telling the person what types of behavior you will no longer tolerate
  • Warning the person that there will be consequences if his or her inappropriate behavior continues

Recently, a high-up Democratic official was quoted by Politico's Mike Allen as saying about the GOP relative to its opposition to the president over the funding of Obamacare: "It's time to punch the bully in his nose."  This response to bullying is not specifically included on the list of tips from HHS.

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