Most victims of workplace bullying don't know how to react - Times LIVE
Fri May 26 22:44:31 SAST 2017

Most victims of workplace bullying don't know how to react

Claire Keeton | 2017-05-18 07:05:24.0
File photo.
Image by: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

Fight or flight? People who get bullied in the workplace tend to get bad advice on how to react, yet they pass it on to other targets of bullying, a small study shows.

Often the advice - such as "quit your job" - is impractical and can make lives worse, said Professor Stacy Tye-Williams from Iowa State University, who led the research.

"If you haven't experienced bullying, you don't understand it and it is hard to imagine what you might do in the situation," she said.

Yet that did not stop co-workers, friends and family from giving advice, such as:

  • quit or get out of the situation (27%);
  • ignore it or blow it off (23%);
  • fight or stand up to the bully (17%);
  • stay calm (10%); and
  • report the bullying (10%).

A few victims were told to "punch the bully" or "quit making things up".

Tye-Williams said several victims felt they had done nothing wrong and should not have to leave their job - and they could not afford to quit.

The researchers said the targets, who expressed a sense of being in the right, were willing to take the abuse so the bully did not win.

Many victims were afraid of retaliation or further humiliation if they confronted the bully, but Tye-Williams said suffering silently rarely improved the situation.

"Targets really felt stuck and didn't know what to do about the bullying," Tye-Williams said.

The paper by Tye-Williams and Kathleen Krone - in which they interviewed 50 bullied employees - was published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research.


If you have an opinion you would like to share on this article, please send us an e-mail to the Times LIVE iLIVE team. In the mean time, click here to view the Times LIVE iLIVE section.