A perfect time for Bullying to thrive

bullying Jan 26, 2021

If you had to design a time when bullying behaviour would thrive you could not do better than now.   We decided to launch a free course on bullying to help both those who believe they are being bullied but also those who find their own behaviour deteriorating in the pressures of the crisis.

The evidence is building that the pandemic is having a bad effect on mental health.  People are stressed, worried about their future, frightened about their health, fearful for their jobs. They feel powerless and disconnected. This feeling goes right from the top to the bottom of organisations.  We know from neuroscience research that when people are in these states their behaviour deteriorates. They cease to think sensibly, sometimes they cease to think at all.

Covid-19 hit business hard and it hit fast.  Many organisations had to make changes to the way they operated overnight.  There has not been time for much consultation or collaboration, businesses closed, or went on-line, or became take-away or drive through ni only a matter of days or weeks.  For many, command and control became the best way to operate. In the short-term that was the right choice.  If you find yourself on a burning platform then command and control is what you need.

But as a method for operating it only works for a short time in the 21st century. My colleague Margaret Heffernan has argued in her excellent article “Prepare for Surprises” the world we face is more uncertain than ever before.  As it has become clear that this is a global marathon (and possibly a multi-marathon), business needs to return to something more collaborative, more consultative, more trusting, to take us forward into an unknown future.  What is becoming clear to us at Defy Expectations is that there is evidence that some in positions of power are using that power to exhibit some unpleasant behaviours. 

That is the reason we are launching a course on how to recognise and deal with bullying.  To be on the receiving end of bullying is to be in a terrible place.  Bullying undermines people, wrecks lives and careers, it can lead to depression, and in some case to suicide. Bullying has always been a feature of the working environment, very few people escape it at some time in their career. 

But it is also true that most of us, at some time in our working lives, have behaved in ways that we are not so proud of.  If you feel that this is happening to you then this course can help you recognise your behaviour and deal with its effects.

Bullying happens everywhere that there are power relationships, from the playground to retirement homes and everywhere in between.  Dealing with it takes courage, energy and persistence on the part of all that become involved in bullying complaints.  

 The workplace, with its power hierarchies, can be a great place for bullying to thrive.  Management by objectives, control of salary and promotion, are all tools that can be used to pressure individuals.  It is hard for those who feel that they are being bullied to complain. Most companies have good procedures and good intentions when it comes to bullying, because they know that bullying is bad for business.  Yet the outcomes from bullying complaints have varying levels of success.  Sometimes someone is disciplined, sometimes there is a tribunal hearing, sometimes some unwelcome publicity, but in general the bullied individual leaves and life in the organisation goes on much as befor. This may be the best outcome for all parties, but sometimes the outcomes are the disasters of Grenfell Tower and Worldcom because people were too afraid to speak up.

We decided to launch a course to support people who think that they are being bullied in the workplace.  To help them decide whether they really are being bullied and if so what to do about it.  It also helps people to deal with their own situation, particularly if taking action against their perception of bullying is not possible.

We have made the course free because we believe as many people as possible need to have access to it.

 The course has five on-line modules:

  1. How to recognise bullying – a serious look at whether bullying is really happening.
  2. How you might build a case that you are being bullied – is there real evidence or is this just your perception?
  3. How to build a support network for yourself.
  4. How to look after yourself, to stress and help you to think straight.
  5. Looking at what options you have and deciding on a way forward.

 Defy Expectations has created a free on-line course “What to do if you are being Bullied” to help you recognise and deal with your problem.


 Pat Chapman-PIncher January 2021