Recipients of workplace aggression experience an enormous amount of trauma and often seek out advice on how to manage. Reporting the bully is often suggested to receivers to help them cope with workplace bullying. Yet reporting the aggressor puts the receiver at high risk to experience more workplace aggression not less. 

As such, receivers need to manage workplace bullying differently. One of the ways they can do this is to develop a strategic plan focusing on harm reduction. For recipients, this includes thinking of ways to minimize the violence they are experiencing. 

Receivers should identify the types of aggression most often used and the times when they are most at-risk to encounter aggression. Once a receiver has identified these, they can think about ways to cope more effectively and reduce exposure to workplace bullying.  As receivers begin to brainstorm ideas on how to reduce harm, they should always ensure that the strategy they use is not going to harm their professional standing or reputation. Recipients should develop multiple strategies for the various situations that they can use.

For example, if the aggressor frequently corners the receiver in their office, recipients can develop escape plans or ways to divert the bully away from them without the aggressor suspecting anything. When a receiver hears the bully coming down the hallway, they might make a phone call or find a reason to leave their office, such as getting coffee or using the restroom. 

Another way to reduce harm for receivers is to manage their emotions.  Being a receiver of bullying is stressful and it causes intense emotions. However, receivers are more vulnerable to bullying when their emotions are high. Recipients, therefore, need to make sure that they are always in control of their reactions and behaviors so they do not give the aggressor an opportunity to attack. Bullies will also use these times to show that the receiver is not able to control their behavior and are in fact unprofessional.  

Receivers should try to avoid the aggressor as much as they possible can. Not having contact with the aggressor does reduce the amount of bullying. This can be an effective strategy to use. However, it should not be used if it will harm the receiver’s professional standing or their ability to do their job in anyway.

Recipients need to focus on reducing their harm while also ensuring that they maintain their high professional behavior. This can be a difficult balance, but with planning and support, it can be done. My survival guide is a helpful resource that identifies other effective strategies for receivers.

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. 

The persistent workplace aggressive environment is almost always stacked against the target. Target is the most frequently used term to identify a person who is the victim of workplace aggression.  But is the language we are using to identify workers who suffer from bullying harmful? 

People already have very strong convictions and preconceived notions about the type of person who falls prey to workplace aggression. They are frequently unwilling to hear an alternative perspective because these beliefs are so ingrained into them and their organizations.  These ideas are victim-blaming and consist of targets having personality flaws or weaknesses in performing their jobs. Essentially, the targets deserve what is happening to them. 

Another reason these preconceived notions are solidified into people’s beliefs are because it is a self-protection mechanism. Bullying is something that happens to “those people” and most workers believe they are not flawed so they are not at risk for bullying. This is comforting thought.

Using the term target confirms these preconceived ideas. It implies there are distinguishing characteristics that put a bulls-eyes or “target” on that person. This mark identifies them as the victim and reinforces that there is something wrong with the target.

The reality is that anyone in a persistent workplace aggressive is at-risk of being victimized (Check out my featured article about this ). There are all types of people who become the target of workplace abuse.

Words matter in a toxic environment and anything that can be done to stop the vilification of targets is important. As such, I propose that new terminology be used that will identify workers who are experiencing bullying. The terms receiver and recipient are neutral and reinforce that abuse is done to a worker. They are not marked nor did they do anything to become victimized. They are the receivers and the recipients of persistent workplace aggression.  This change in language will challenge views on who gets bullied at work and will help people to review their preconceived notions.  We must remember that when aggression is plaguing our workplaces, we can all be receiver and recipients of bullying. 

I would like to say thank you to all who proposed and gave me ideas for the new terminology. 

If you are 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.

More organizations and workers are aware that workplace bullying exists and that it is happening across the United States. Yet, the fact remains that few acknowledge that bullying is happening in their organization and even fewer make any attempt to intervene when workplace aggression is reported.  Why don’t organizations and leadership take workplace bullying seriously? 

One reason is that many leaders are bullies. Aggressive leaders are in charge and have power in the organization. Bully leaders are under the misconception that their bad behavior is professional. These types of leaders strongly believe that their acts of aggression are in fact good leadership behaviors. Aggressive leaders are unable to self-reflect and therefore, they are not even open to the idea that they could be a workplace bully. The target is the problem because they are unable to cope with their leadership style and as such, bullying is not taken seriously.

Also, when allegations are made against the bully leader, they quickly annihilate the target along with the accusations. This sends a clear message to other workers that bullying in their work environment is a way of life and that is the way it is. Workers either join the bullying or they will most likely become a target.

Many times, leaders are promoted due to their expertise and/or longevity and not on their strong leadership abilities. As such, leaders may not have the skills to adequately manage workplace aggression and many are unwilling to seek consultation to develop the necessary expertise to do so
Organizations frequently do not have a clear expectation about the kind of leadership they want nor do they train their administrators to be effective leaders. This leaves organizations controlled by managers who do not have the skills to oversee organizations plagued with bullying.

Another reason that organization do not address bullying is because it is a complicated, irrational problem. Most organizations do not have the ability to solve complex personnel concerns nor do they have the desire to put in the necessary processes to do so.

Solving aggression requires time and commitment. It demands developing fair and equitable policies and procedures. Managing aggression also necessitates the need for progressive discipline that organizations are willing to follow. It also requires providing training and education for leaders and workers on bullying.

If you or someone you know 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.