“The term “bullying“ is referring to a conflict escalation at work, characterized by the postponement of power to the disadvantage of one party. The conflict party is exposed to systematic hostile attacks for a longer period of time. These attacks occur frequently and can lead to significant individual and operational damages.”1
Bullying can be prosecuted by criminal law, civil law, service law and employment law, respectively. Accusations must be provable and transparent for successful law enforcement (e.g. witnesses, letters, e-mails, medical reports, mobbing diary).
Acts of bullying2
- Limitation of somebody’s possibilities to communicate (e.g. restriction of the possibility to express oneself, constant interruptions, permanent criticism, harassment by telephone, threats, refusal of possibilities to contact somebody)
- Assaults on somebody’s social relationships (e.g. not talking to the person concerned, relocation in a distant room, cutting somebody dead)
- Assaults on somebody’s social prestige (e.g. talking badly about the person concerned, spreading rumours, mocking, taunting)
- Assaults on the quality of somebody’s professional and personal situation (e.g. assigning no work tasks at all, assigning useless work tasks or tasks demanding too little/too much)
- Assault on somebody’s health (e.g. forcing somebody to fulfil health-threatening tasks, use of violence, infliction of material damages)
How to prevent bullying
- Individual prevention measures possible:3 Strengthening your conflict management skills, reflecting your individual role in the conflict, addressing the conflict frankly and honestly, accepting offers of assistance in case of escalation.
- Operational prevention measures possible: Making work organisation transparent, reducing excessive or insufficient challenge over a longer period of time, counselling, coaching, management training, trainings of the ability to deal with conflicts, raising awareness of the problem of bullying, using methodology for observing the situation.4
Informing staff (general awareness), collecting information among staff (lending a sympathetic ear), informing managing directors (qualification), business structures against bullying (e.g. improving the complaint system).5
The following advice might be helpful in dealing with the situation:
- Give priority to solving the problem of bullying
- Take courage – You can do something against the bullying
- Look for conversational partners and allies
- Assess the usefulness of (well-meant) advice for yourself
- Get professional help
- Take your time – don’t necessarily expect a quick solution
- Analyse the problem thoroughly
- Strengthen your body and mind
- If possible, reduce the dependence on the bully – do not expect the bully’s understanding and goodwill (this creates dependence and makes you susceptible to manipulation), focus on stopping the acts of bullying instead
- Develop your own strategy
1 cf. Kolodej, Mobbing, Psychoterror am Arbeitsplatz und seine Bewältigung 2, Wien, 2005, 24.
2 cf. Kolodej, Mobbing, 43ff.
3 cf. Kolodej, Mobbing, 149f.
4 cf. Kolodej, Mobbing, 150-167.
5 cf. Esser/Wolmerath/Niedl, Mobbing. Der Ratgeber für Betroffene 1, Wien, 1999, 95f.
6 cf. Esser/Wolmerath/Niedl, Mobbing, 39-47.
Source of information and more details: AKGL-Brochure (p. 8-9)