Good habits formed at youth make all the difference —Anistotle —
Providing basic mediation training to managers would resolve a lot of interpersonal conflict in the workplace
Adults feel too weak and ashamed to admit they’re being bullied because they think an adult should be able to cope with it,” says Dr Genevieve Murray, a specialist liaison officer for workplace mediation with the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII).
The MII is the professional association for mediators in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
While bullying in schools is often discussed, Murray conducted research in schools but focused on staff rather than students. She examined workplace bullying in post-primary schools and says bullying can come from any direction – superiors, peers or subordinates.
Increased levels of testosterone in boys can contribute to greater anger and aggression.
Ideally, all prospective parents should seek professional health screening at least six months prior to a planned pregnancy.
What emerged from her research was that disputes usually started over something small and eventually got out of control. Mediation came too late, if at all, after bitterness and resentment had already set in.
“By that time, there was far too much anger between the two and far too many people involved,” she says.
A member of staff might have withheld information, not given someone credit for their work or shouted at a colleague.
Severe criticism, hurtful teasing, setting unrealistic work targets or depriving someone of responsibility are other ways co-workers bully each other. One of the most common ways, according to Murray, is spreading rumours.
“It’s all a power game. Power is a huge element of workplace bullying. Other reasons are envy and fear.”
Bullying can leave employees feeling depressed, anxious, sleep-deprived, unable to concentrate and socially isolated.
“Studies have shown that workers who experience bullying over a lengthy period may develop symptoms similar to those of post traumatic stress disorder,” Murray says. “People isolate themselves when they feel that uncomfortable. That’s a very lonely space for an individual to be in.”
In situations like that, absenteeism increases. Employers might not realise the impact interpersonal conflicts have on productivity, she says.
“When a teacher is out sick due to the stress of bullying, a substitute teacher has to be brought in. Therefore, they’re paying two people for one job. There is also a break in the continuity of teaching. Students would have to adapt to another teacher. What a waste of money and resources. These are some of the hidden effects of workplace bullying.”
It stresses out not only the victim, but the entire workplace, causing a “psychological ripple effect. It affects everyone. Therefore, if mediation was brought in at an early stage, where both people could have at least communicated with each other before it
Murray says providing basic mediation training to managers – in this case, school principals – would resolve a lot of interpersonal conflict before it becomes bullying and results in a stressful aftermath. They would learn to improve communication, narrow outstanding issues, defuse emotions and set out areas of agreement.
Her research showed that managers frequently mishandle conflict.
“A lot of people find it very difficult. Managers might be good at their jobs, but when it comes to interpersonal relationship issues that arise in the workplace, they can find that very difficult to handle,” she says.
“There are skills and language one uses to come across as a neutral party, even though you know both people very well.”
Murray’s work with the MII focuses on intervention and prevention. She wants to make employers and employees aware of what workplace bullying is, how to identify it and what to do if they feel something is wrong.
She advises employees to learn what they are entitled to and talk to their employers. Often, mediation is written into an employer’s workplace harassment policy, continue reading »»»
Article by Erin McGuire for The Irish Times – Thu, Jul 30, 2015
We have finally gathered enough evidence from our cyber bullying survey with an added focus on school bullying. With over 200 respondents, the results are sure to shock you. Explore the interesting results from NoBullying’s cyber bullying survey, click here.