Module 7: Understanding Harassment
What Workplace Bullying Looks Like
This section looks at examples of workplace bullying and coping strategies. As mentioned earlier, bullying can be verbal or physical attacks, such as teasing, badgering, and insults. They can be actions that exclude and isolate a targeted person from their peer group, or undermine a person’s work performance, and peer relationships (Zapf et al. 103). While not intended to be an exhaustive list, here are some examples of workplace bullying:
Victims of harassment adopt various coping strategies. Kwan et al. classify four categories (136) – exit, voice, acquiescence, and neglect (EVAN), which were listed in Figure 7.5 in the previous chapter. Lee et al. add a coping behaviour, namely retribution (R) (94).
Several studies suggest that victims of workplace bullying are more likely to use neglect, followed by acquiescence, voice, retribution and exit (Lee et al. 95). These results indicate that victims are reluctant to confront the offender or to elicit the support of coworkers. Kwan and her colleagues found that victims of harassment were more likely to adopt voice strategies when working for an organization with a positive safety climate (141). Such an organization is characterized by management that supports issues that affect employees’ psychological health; gives priority to resolving issues about psychological health and safety; communicates with employees about psychological health and safety matters; and promotes workers’ participation in issues of psychological health and safety (Kwan et al. 135). Conversely, victims in a negative safety climate are more likely to adopt exit, acquiescence, and neglect strategies.
Lee et al. recommend problem-solving and active behaviours (e.g., voice and confrontation) (95), Kwan et al.’s results suggest that using active coping strategies, such as exercising voice, are not likely to be effective unless there is a positive safety climate (143).