Bullying is alive and well in the workplace



“Workplace bullies make their victims’ lives hell”

“Don’t let them win”

“How to spot a workplace bully”

These are just a few of the headlines that made quite unpleasant reading in the past few days. As outlined on www.psychologytoday.com . -”Bullying is a distinctive pattern of deliberately harming and humiliating others. It is a very durable behavioural style, largely because bullies get what they want – at least at first.”

Unfortunately most people simply do not know that they are victims. While it is true to say that bullying is often characterised by violence and harassment, bullying can also be subtle, repetitive and accumulative. It is the latter type of bullying that makes it difficult to identify and file a complaint. It should also be pointed out that an isolated incident of unacceptable behaviour from a work colleague should not immediately be classified as workplace bullying. However, it should not be ignored because it could easily escalate to the level of being classified as workplace bullying. It should be the duty of every employer to address bullying by clearly defining what bullying is, what the behaviours are, and provide clear examples of unacceptable behaviours.

Bullies often justify and minimise their behaviour. They use excuses such as, “ Sorry I lost it because I am going through a rough patch at the moment.” or “ It wasn’t as bad as you are putting it, you are reading too much into it.” Most bullies try to manipulate their victims by exploiting their weaknesses.

It was quite interesting to note that bullying in the workplace is not confined to the corporate culture, government departments or factory workers. It is also prevalent in the entertainment industry and we are not talking of film producer/actor or music producer/musician scenarios. Some celebrities especially comedians have been known to bully their audiences and fans. Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres could not have expressed it better when she said, “ Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else’s expense. And I find that’s just a form of bullying in a major way. So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else’s feelings”.

If one is not really sure whether they are being bullied or not it is best to get an unbiased opinion from someone else.

Although there is no specific legislation which covers the issue of bullying, other acts such as the Employment Relations Act, the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the Human Rights Act cover aspects of Workplace Bullying. Bearing in mind that the effects of bullying : decreased emotional well being, reduced coping strategies and lower work performance are applicable to all forms of bullying, these acts can be used by everyone as a basis to combat bullying.

NBI’s approach of addressing bullying is based on New Zealand’s shared strong national identity and its cultural diversity with an aim of creating and promoting individuals’ desire to belong, affiliate and be socially accepted within their environment. NBI’s focus is to promote anti-bullying initiatives at workplaces, schools and communities.

 The following services are available through NBI:


-Advocacy and support where formal complaints or investigations are initiated.


-Education and awareness through workshops and presentations.

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