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In one of my favourite novels, Of mice and men, by John Steinbeck, the character that leads the hunt for Lennie displays the typical characteristics of a ‘bully’. Curley, who has a complex against larger men, takes out his frustrations and anger on the simple Lennie.
I will not spoil the ending for those who have not read the book, but the portrayal of a bully is as old as literature itself. Consider that Of mice and men was first published in 1937, I ask how have we progressed in the 84 years since?
Bullying is still prevalent in society today and its effects are devasting to those on the receiving end. It has huge impact on day-to-day life and in workplaces.
Workplace bullying is having a huge, detrimental, effect on workers as they are humiliated, belittled and made to feel that they are not valued. Those feelings cascade into their personal lives and begins the descent into depression, despair, and anxiety.
Often fearful of the repercussions if challenged, or if they speak up, it remains hidden, festering like a disease.
Creating a workplace where people feel comfortable and safe to speak up against bullying, or confident enough to challenge bullying behaviour where they see it, is the foundation to creating a better workplace.
But that is not the only answer.
When it is called out, bullying allegations need to be investigated thoroughly, fairly, and objectively, seeking the truth through a process that gathers all the evidence and then conducts an objective review to draw a balanced, reasonable decision based on the balance of probabilities.
If we do not?
Well, the potential outcomes can be devastating; not only for an organisations reputation but more importantly for those on the receiving end.
In April 2020, a 22-year old student committed suicide in Japan, and allegations followed from his family that he was being bullied by his manager.
In response, the organisation issued a statement which stated, “We are partially responsible for the male student’s suicide.”
Do not let your organisation be in a position of having to replicate that statement.
Encourage people to speak up, challenge bullying behaviour and support allegations with a fair, thorough, and objective investigation.
Help stop bullying and make your workplace a bully-free zone.