Workplace bullying is a complicated issue that entangles itself into every aspect of one's life.  However, for some professions, it becomes more complex when you are experiencing bullying and working with people who are bullied.  The question is can you work with targets if you are a victim yourself

For medical and mental health professionals, this is often a dilemma they must maneuver through on a regular basis because these are high risk professions for workplace bullying.  As such, medical and mental health workers may be victims bullying themselves while offering suggestions to their clients and patients who are also targets.  This puts them in an extremely difficult position. 

Medical and mental health professionals are in the business of caring for people often when they are most vulnerable.  They are exposed to hearing people’s life stories, including accounts of workplace bullying.  They give out lots of advice to their clients and patients about dealing with workplace bullying.  At the same time, they may be experiencing workplace bullying themselves.

Here are some suggestions for medical and mental health professionals who find themselves in this position.  First, it is vital that professionals have an awareness of this dilemma.  This recognition allows the medical or mental professional to start to address how being a victim is impacting their patient and client care. 

Second, it is vital that they receive education specifically on workplace bullying.  Knowing about bullying is key to coping effectively with it as a target as well as being able to give solid advice to patients and clients. (Check out my featured article about training on bullying for professionals.) Without specific training on workplace bullying, it is likely these professionals are managing bullying like conflict.  Thus, putting themselves and their clients at risk for increased bullying. 

Medical and mental health workers need to ensure that they are applying their education on bullying to themselves.
  This includes documenting as well as utilizing supports and other professions to help them cope as a victim.  Being able to take care of themselves as a victim will only strengthen their ability to help others.

Finally, medical and mental health professionals must try to remain objective and separate their own experience from bullying from that of their patients and clients.  Techniques like self-talk and role-playing can assist professionals with this.  This helps ensure that they are giving are effective guidance rather than suggestions about ways they wish they could deal with their bully. Professionals need to be aware that they are not oversharing about their own experiences and utilizing the helping relationship to cope with their workplace bullying.  They need to be able to step away from their patients and clients if they feel themselves losing their ability to be objective.

This week, if you are a target of workplace bullying, make sure you are taking care of yourself.  This helps you as well as your patients and clients.

Don’t forget to check out my survival guide if you are a target of workplace bullying.  If you or your organization is experiencing workplace bullying, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there. 

Workplace bullying is a complex and difficult issue that is plaguing organizations in the United States and globally.  One of the questions that I often get asked is can an organization truly stop and manage workplace bullying.  Of course, I believe that the answer to this question is yes.  But what does it take for an organization to stop workplace bullying.

First and foremost, organizations need to know what workplace bullying is.  Most organizations never receive any education on workplace bullying.  They get training on conflict resolution and frequently assume that this is adequate.  Unfortunately, it is not.  (I recommend reading my blogs on the significant differences between conflict and workplace bullying.)  Treating workplace bullying like conflict almost always exacerbates the problem of bullying rather than helping to solve it.  Organizations, therefore, need to have a clear understanding of workplace bullying to begin to address the issue in their organization.

Secondly, organizations need to acknowledge the possibility that their work environment could be toxic.  This is important because admitting that there may be problems or issues that need to be addressed is the first step in identifying solutions.  If an organization is unwilling to acknowledge that there may be concerns, they cannot develop resolutions that will effectively address workplace bullying.

An organization also needs to be willing to hold all workers accountable, have integrity, and equitability.  This includes everyone from the top to the bottom.  This will ensure fair treatment of workers and will help improve overall working relationships.

Finally, it is essential that organizations be flexible.  They need to try different solutions and evaluate them to see if they are working.  If they are not reducing workplace bullying, then organizations need to adapt their solutions.  Organizations must continue to review their interventions and adjust as needed.  This will help them continue to assess their work environment to ensure that workplace bullying is stopping as well as to prevent any future workplace violence.

This week, try to get an understanding of what your coworkers know about workplace bullying.  This will help you to gauge where your organization is in their understanding of this issue and a starting point to begin to solve workplace bullying.

If you or your organization is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there today.

Workplace bullying can be devastating to one’s physical health causing a person to frequent their doctor more often. But, do medical professionals ask about what is happening at your work to better understand your health?

Best practice dictates that medical professionals do a thorough assessment of what is happening to you both personally and professionally. This includes asking questions about your work environment during your doctor’s visit so they can accurately treat your physical conditions. However, this is more often the exception rather than the rule. As such, targets and bystanders need to disclose what is happening at work to their doctor and nurses so get the best diagnosis even if they are not asked.

For myself, I have never been asked about the quality of my work environment or my work in general. My own lack of disclosure coupled with my doctor not asking made it difficult for medical professionals to accurately evaluate the causes of my health problems. 

Medical professionals should ask probing questions about the quality of one’s work environment to help with harm reduction. It is imperative that targets and bystanders of workplace abuse disclose what they are experiencing to their doctors as well. This will help medical professionals provide better care which should alleviate the physical conditions that targets and bystanders experience.

A word of caution for targets and bystanders. Critically evaluate any suggestions given because medical professionals, like many professions, have limited knowledge of how to effectively address bullying in the actual workplace. Increased education for medical professionals is needed.

If you or the organization you work for is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there.