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On work place bul­ly­ing: gently rais­ing an issue

These notes were used in rais­ing an issue about a rel­at­ively tox­ic work place. You may use them if they are of any assist­ance.

I need to be very care­ful how I put this, because I do not want to cre­ate unne­ces­sary drama, espe­cially when/​if it is not war­ran­ted. I am unsure if this is actu­ally what I am doing, as I have not expli­citly spoken about this to any­one and may be under-pre­pared or over­re­act­ing.

Why did I raise this issue?

Although rais­ing this issue is some­what in my self-interest, it is also some­thing that oth­ers have raised with me in private. Per­son­ally I have felt uncom­fort­able not only for myself but for oth­ers also.


Caveat /​ need to emphas­ise:

  1. I am not talk­ing about sys­tem­ic work place bul­ly­ing
  2. I am not point­ing the fin­ger at any one par­tic­u­lar per­son.

Instead, what I am talk­ing about is attempt­ing to attain a cul­ture of col­lab­or­a­tion and sup­port, which we are los­ing a bit of at our com­pany. By this I mean one that sup­ports employ­ee self-esteem and con­fid­ence, rather than den­ig­rate or dis­par­age employee’s as a meth­od or as habit.


I could and should give examples,

- A per­son may make a mis­take and privately admit it to a seni­or engin­eer. This per­son is likely to be pub­licly lam­pooned and shamed. Although typ­ic­ally done sar­castic­ally, the effect can some­times be dam­aging to that person’s repu­ta­tion and con­fid­ence, affect­ing how they are treated in future by fel­low employ­ees.

- A per­son may make a mis­take and talk to anoth­er team mem­ber about it. Depend­ing on the per­son, this mis­take will then be gos­siped about in the ‘chat rooms’. This then causes the per­son to feel ostra­cized and they may even be treated dif­fer­ently by fel­low employ­ees fol­low­ing that event.

- If a per­son has exper­i­enced both of these situ­ations, it is pos­sible for their repu­ta­tion and con­fid­ence to be per­man­ently marred; they will be singled out as an example of fail­ure or used as a scape goat for oth­ers mis­takes. Their repu­ta­tion for mak­ing mis­takes may be deserved, but what I am attempt­ing to address is the envir­on­ment that per­son then find them­selves in. They are in effect singled out, with what seems as few options for redress or places to turn. Giv­en the nature of their isol­a­tion, they have no choice but to remain silent and accept their situ­ation.

The prob­lem is that:
— this sort of cul­ture spreads and can intensi­fy if not spoken about.
— the per­son may choose to not speak about mis­takes, and keep them hid­den, or feel that they need to con­sist­ently defend them­selves oth­er­wise they will lose their col­leagues respect.
— mis­takes can be seen as fail­ures of the per­son, rather than les­sons to be learned
— col­league col­lab­or­a­tion and team mor­ale can be adversely affected.

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