How To Identify and Manage Workplace Bullying
The tech industry is full of high IQ individuals with big egos, making businesses in the sector a breeding ground for workplace bullying. While we can all agree that workplace bullying is unacceptable and needs to be solved, it’s important first to understand what workplace bullying is.
Understanding Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying is aggressive behavior targeted toward specific victims, either by an individual coworker or groups of them. Such bullying can also occur between people in positions of power and those they hold power over.
Common Examples of Workplace Bullying Include:
- Belitting the victim for not knowing something
- Practical jokes at the expense of the victim
- Intentionally giving the victim false information to sabotage their work
- Excessive progress monitoring
- Constant undeserved criticism
- Denying time off without valid justification
- Verbal abuse, threats, and humiliation
There’s a pretty evident grey area here. Criticism in the workplace doesn’t constitute bullying, at least not when it’s constructive. Similarly, it is a manager’s job to monitor a worker’s progress. However, the line is crossed when such behavior becomes excessive, to the point of negatively impacting the victim’s mental health and ability to work.
How Emotional Intelligence (High EQ) Can Solve Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying is a very sensitive matter; it needs to be handled delicately. To that end, businesses need to position high EQ people in positions where they can make an actionable difference. In addition, high EQ people are usually very empathetic; this means they’re more likely to sympathize with a victim and work to solve the issue in their favor.
High EQ individuals are excellent communicators and mediators; this means that they’ll be able to conduct effective conflict resolution between two or more people who are at odds before the situation can worsen and lead to bullying.
How Emotional Intelligence Can Prevent Workplace Bullying
While stopping workplace bullying is a noble endeavor, it simply isn’t enough. We must work to prevent workplace bullying in the first place.
Companies can eliminate workplace bullying if they invest in nurturing their employees to be self-aware. Self-awareness is an essential part of emotional intelligence, especially when it comes to preventing workplace bullying. Self-aware employees are those who can master their own emotions rather than being impulsive. As a result, such people can resolve conflict through well-reasoned communication rather than resorting to bullying.
In 2017, the Workplace Bullying Institute researched to determine some basic facts about workplace bullying. Here’s what they found:
- The ratio of male to female bullies is 7:3.
- Both genders are more likely to target women.
- Bosses and managers make up 61% of bullies.
- Coworkers and teammates make up 33%.
- 6% of bullying occurs between a bully and a victim in a higher position than them.
- Racial minorities face bullying more frequently. For example, 89% of victims were people of color.
As former CEO of Alpine Security (now Managing Director at Cerberus Sentinel), Christian Espinosa observed a staggering lack of emotional intelligence in the tech industry. He now aims to solve workplace bullying and other issues due to this lack of emotional intelligence. His book, The Smartest Person in The Room, provides leaders with the tools to nurture a more emotionally intelligent workforce.