A Refocus on Bullying Behaviours

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Workplace Conflict Resolution is keenly aware of the high volume of bullying behaviours that are still occurring in our workplaces. The consequence of such behaviours sees us invited into workplaces to conduct mediations and grievance investigations.

Proactive organisations are seeking our support early, before reported incidents of bullying, so that appropriate training can be offered to increase knowledge, support constructive workplace relationships, explain effective complaint handling processes (including encouraging self-management where safe to do so) and provide skills for improved communication.

In our training sessions we always stress a number of salient points that should underpin all communications and workplace practices regarding the prevention of and responses to bullying behaviours. The National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) have written these points succinctly and we encourage all workplaces to adopt this approach:

“Understandings that underpin our work

1. All bullying, including cyberbullying, is a relationship problem requiring relationship solutions.

2. Positive values and relationships are at the core of safe, supportive and inclusive environments.

3. Bullying including cyberbullying is to be taken seriously and is considered to be a form of abuse with potentially long-term consequences.

4. Bullying, including cyberbullying, occurs within the context of group dynamics – all individuals and groups have the potential to bully others or to be bullied.

5. It is expected that we use ‘people-first’ language – e.g. ‘people who bully’ or ‘targets of bullying’ – and that people and groups are not vilified or labelled (by use of the terms ‘bully’ or ‘victim’).

6. Bullying, including cyberbullying, needs to be distinguished from conflict and violence as the strategies required are different.

7. A whole-of-organisation approach, specifically addressing bullying and cyberbullying, is essential. It must involve solution-focused and relationship-based processes and key stakeholders from the organisation and wider community.

8. Effective whole-of-organisation approaches always include procedures and programs for:

  • preventing bullying including cyberbullying
  • intervening early, and
  • responding effectively to incident.

Community Initiatives Address Bullying Behaviours

Workplace Conflict Resolution acknowledges the wonderful work being done by the NCAB – an initiative of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

Both the Foundation and the Centre have a primary focus on bullying in schools and the effects and consequences on children.

Workplace Conflict Resolution is encouraged that as this cohort of students enter our workforce they will have strong interpersonal relationship skills and knowledge such that they themselves will be less likely to bully others and more likely to constructively address inappropriate behaviours in the workplace that are the precursor to bullying behaviours.

In the meantime, Workplace Conflict Resolution welcomes the efforts of organisations to openly address what is usually not spoken of – the prominence of the potential for, as well as the unreported number of, bullying incidents in the workplace.

Perhaps your organisation might like to take on board the 8 points listed above. If you need help or advice, we are happy to talk with you. For our contact details click here.


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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.