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As I have been out presenting on workplace bullying, there is one issue that I continue to struggle with. Do I admit to having been a receiver of workplace bullying or not? I have consulted with other professionals who have advised against this. Their reasoning being that it might take away from my expertise and credibility on workplace bullying. It seems hypocritical to me if I am unwilling to acknowledge this, but openly identifying has negatively impacted my workshop evaluations. Of course, this got me thinking. Why does one’s credibility change when we find out someone has or is a receiver of workplace bullying?

One reason is the general attitudes held about victims of abuse. We have a victim-blaming mentality about those who have experienced any type of violence including workplace bullying. We have a tendency in this society to hold the victim responsible for the abuse rather than the aggressor. Receivers have either done something they should not have or failed somehow as a professional They put themselves in the position to be bullied.  Many think receivers have personality flaws or lack professional behavior which also cause them to be targeted. Either way, receivers deserve what is happening to them. As such, receivers are not seen as credible because their behavior, personality, or actions are the reasons they are being bullied.

Many equate workplace bullying with schoolyard bullying. Workplace bullying is viewed as a children’s issue and not something that impacts adults. This assumption does not take into consideration the complex nature of workplace aggression. Rather, we assume that adults can manage, stop, and prevent workplace bullying. Adults who are not able to stop bullying are unskilled, weak, and not reliable. There is something wrong with adult workers who are unable to stop workplace bullying. We again, view receivers of bullying through a lens that distorts the truth and blames the victim for the problem.

We still have quite a few misguided assumptions about workplace receivers which impact how we view professionals who have experienced it. These beliefs cause us to judge and view receivers in a negative light, as unprofessional, and as not credible. The violence that receivers experience is one again not recognized. Like many others, receivers are forced to bear the scars from workplace bullying in silence because if they openly disclose, they are likely to once again be re-victimized.

We need to start holding the aggressors of workplace bullying responsible for their behavior and remember it is their credibility that is the problem.

Don’t forget to check out my survival guide which is a helpful resource that identifies effective strategies for receivers of workplace bullying.  If you or your organization is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360.


 
 
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Receivers of workplace bullying often leave their place of employment as a result of the bullying, either willingly or unwillingly. Receivers are at high risk for employment in another organization infested with bullying. But sometimes, they actually find a job in an agency where bullying does not exist. This is an accomplishment for receivers. 

The transition from an organization that is utterly dysfunctional into a normal functioning agency can be more difficult for the receiver than anticipated. This is because bullying was normalized and receivers adapted to this environment. Receivers developed work habits around surviving an abusive environment and developed responses based on the abuse. These coping skills became patterns of behaviors as a result of the bullying. They were the means to survival in the workplace bullying environment. The bullying generated certain expectations on how receivers should or should not conduct themselves at work.  They may also have emotional reactions to certain functions of the workday because of bullying. These behaviors became instinctive and part of the receivers every day work life. 

These responses may continue into the receiver's new job out of habit. Responses are conditioned into the receiver's professional behavior as a result of being abused in the workplace. These coping mechanisms are most likely not required in a healthy workplace. But receivers may find it difficult to reprogram their responses out of fear. For example, if a receiver was regularly targeted via email in the bullying environment, the sound of getting an email may trigger an emotional response. This is because in the past, the email was followed by bullying. In the healthy environment, the sound of an email may cause the receiver to have the same emotional response, but there bullying is not happening.

The key for the receiver is to recognize the response, acknowledge it, and then remind themselves that their new job does not engage in bullying. They are safe and do not have to have negative emotional responses anymore.  They are now working in a bully-free environment. Don’t forget to check out my survival guide which is a helpful resource that identifies effective strategies for receivers of 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.


 
 
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It is no secret that receivers experience trauma related to workplace bullying. Consequently, many leave their jobs as a result of bullying and also because organizations fail to intervene on their behalf.  

Once a receiver leaves, finding a new job becomes key. Receivers need to know they are at risk for taking a job in another aggressive situation. This is particularly true for professions where workplace bullying is rampant, such as nursing, social work, and education. Consequently, receivers need to be aware that the organizations they are applying to may be plagued with aggression. Receivers, therefore, need to screen potential employers for workplace bullying to ensure that they take a job with an organization that is bully free.

One of the first steps for receivers is merely to do an internet search on their potential employer. In today’s world, there are a few online sources designed to provide reviews on employers. Of course, not every organization and agency has reviews. However, it is strongly recommended that receivers do an internet search to see what, if anything is out there. 

Receivers should also have a series of questions they bring to the interview that explores how the organization manages conflict, discipline, professional development, and team-building. These questions should be asked of workers at all organizational levels so that receiver can better assess the organizational culture and the environment.

Receivers also want to investigate the general working relationships and overall job satisfaction of the employees during the interview. Using multiple sources if at all possible, receivers should find out the frequency of turnover and the reasons why the last few employees left the organization. Receivers should be skilled and weave these questions into their general interview and be aware that the information they are given should be consistent with what they are seeing. 

Receivers need to keep their eyes wide open and observe the environment during their interview. It is likely there will be signs that the organization is dealing with workplace bullying. For example, is there a worker who is actively bad mouthing other employees? Are there workers who are not speaking to one another? Is there tension between workers? Is what is being said too good to be true?  Or, are there workers not present who were supposed to be part of the interview? Do workers have their doors open or closed? Is there an area for workers to eat lunch together or have coffee?

Observing non-verbal behaviors of the workers along with truly hearing what is being said helps receivers decipher if this potential workplace is suffering from workplace aggression. All of these bits and pieces, when put together, can tell the receiver a lot about the overall organizational culture and environment.

Don’t forget to check out my survival guide which is a helpful resource that identifies effective strategies for receivers of 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.
It is no secret that receivers experience trauma related to workplace bullying. Consequently, many leave their jobs as a result of bullying and also because organizations fail to intervene on their behalf.  

Once a receiver leaves, finding a new job becomes key. Receivers need to know they are at risk for taking a job in another aggressive situation. This is particularly true for professions where workplace bullying is rampant, such as nursing, social work, and education. Consequently, receivers need to be aware that the organizations they are applying to may be plagued with aggression. Receivers, therefore, need to screen potential employers for workplace bullying to ensure that they take a job with an organization that is bully free.

One of the first steps for receivers is merely to do an internet search on their potential employer. In today’s world, there are a few online sources designed to provide reviews on employers. Of course, not every organization and agency has reviews. However, it is strongly recommended that receivers do an internet search to see what, if anything is out there. 

Receivers should also have a series of questions they bring to the interview that explores how the organization manages conflict, discipline, professional development, and team-building. These questions should be asked of workers at all organizational levels so that receiver can better assess the organizational culture and the environment.

Receivers also want to investigate the general working relationships and overall job satisfaction of the employees during the interview. Using multiple sources if at all possible, receivers should find out the frequency of turnover and the reasons why the last few employees left the organization. Receivers should be skilled and weave these questions into their general interview and be aware that the information they are given should be consistent with what they are seeing. 

Receivers need to keep their eyes wide open and observe the environment during their interview. It is likely there will be signs that the organization is dealing with workplace bullying. For example, is there a worker who is actively bad mouthing other employees? Are there workers who are not speaking to one another? Is there tension between workers? Is what is being said too good to be true?  Or, are there workers not present who were supposed to be part of the interview? Do workers have their doors open or closed? Is there an area for workers to eat lunch together or have coffee?

Observing non-verbal behaviors of the workers along with truly hearing what is being said helps receivers decipher if this potential workplace is suffering from workplace aggression. All of these bits and pieces, when put together, can tell the receiver a lot about the overall organizational culture and environment.

Don’t forget to check out my survival guide which is a helpful resource that identifies effective strategies for receivers of 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



 
 
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The workplace bullying environment is difficult for receivers to continue to work in, especially when they are not believed.  As such, leaving is often considered and recommended by experts.  Leaving isn’t always an option and many receivers stay.  However, even if a worker leaves, there are continued risks that must be considered.

One of these risks is about references.  Getting a reference from one’s place of employment is important and often a necessity in obtaining another position.  For the receiver of workplace bullying, references can be extremely problematic to attain after leaving.  Many times the receiver leaves because they are not believed and/or are viewed as the problem. This makes getting a positive reference problematic.

On many applications, there is an option whether the potential employer has permission to contact to previous places of employment.  In normal circumstances, workers mark yes, but surviving a workplace bullying culture is not normal.  For the receiver of workplace bullying, marking yes or no can be tricky.

Marking yes means receivers are at-risk for receiving a negative reference from their past employer.  Marking no often requires an explanation and this requires the receiver to be creative in their reasoning.  Either is risky for the receiver.

Another problem can arise when workers complete the paperwork for a background check.  Some background checks require verification from employers about worker including dates of employment and salary.  Receivers have reported that the organizations they left as a result of bullying are refusing to verify employment.  This causes additional harm and trauma to receivers of workplace bullying.

Don’t forget to check out my survival guide which is a helpful resource that identifies effective strategies for receivers of 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.


 
 
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As organizations begin to better understand workplace bullying, the likelihood that they will intervene increases. However, before organizations can effectively intervene, they must understand a few key features of workplace bullying. First and foremost, organizations need to recognize that workplace bullying is different than anything else they have dealt with before. This knowledge helps organizations with the development of effective tools to cope with bullying. Strategies need to be creative, hold the bully accountable, help the environment heal, and ensure that aggression does not continue. Interventions should be revisited to ensure that they are doing what is expected.

Organizations must also realize that the work environment will most likely get worse before it gets better. When bullies are held accountable, they push back and retaliate because intervention means they are losing their control over the culture. Aggressors become more covert and underhanded. Aggressors will also put increased pressure on bystanders to participate more in the bullying which makes it more difficult to identify who is perpetrating the violence. Leadership and organizations must plan their intervention strategies accordingly. This should include preparation for retaliation from the aggressor and bystanders. A clear means to protect witnesses and receivers from retaliation and further bullying must be incorporated into interventions. 

Organizations often fail to recognize the complexity of workplace bullying and as such, they intervene only on one level. The most common strategy used by organizations is to intervene with the receiver. This increases workplace bullying causing additional harm and failing to address the real problem. Organizations need to fully understand that the workplace bullying culture is multi-faceted and includes the organization, the aggressor, the receiver, and the witnesses. As such, there needs to be systematic intervention tactics on each level to successfully manage, stop, and prevent workplace bullying. 

If your organization is experiencing workplace bullying, I can help develop effective interventions and strategies to stop and prevent workplace bullying. Contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360.  You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com.  Remember, help is out there.


 
 
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Workplace bullying causes a great deal of destruction to the entire organization and all the workers.  Adding to this devastation is the lack of intervention and the absence of effective strategies to help organizations cope and rebuild from persistent workplace aggression.  A restorative healing approach assists organizations with stopping bullying and incorporates strategies for healing the work environment as well.

Restorative healing focuses on restoration, transformation, and prevention. It is a guided and intentional process that brings stakeholders together to work cooperatively to transform relationships and the culture with a focus on prevention. It helps organizations acknowledge that bullying exists in the work environment and understand the harm it caused. Restorative healing incorporates strategies for maintaining safety for all workers as well as utilizing approaches to transform the culture into one where bullying no longer exists.   

Making amends is not a concept that is usually considered in working with organizations. However, it is an important piece of restorative healing because of the amount of harm associated with workplace bullying. Making amends requires a cooperative effort among aggressors, receivers, and bystanders. It provides opportunities for workers, including leadership, to express their feelings, take responsibility for their actions, let go of the past, and make a commitment to moving forward to a healthy work environment.

Organizational must start to intervene in workplace bullying environments. They must also remember that there is no easy fix, but organizations can heal from workplace bullying with commitment, time, and a restorative healing approach. 

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.


 
 
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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. 


 
 
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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.


 
 
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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.



 
 
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One of the biggest obstacles that hinders leadership from intervening in workplace bullying is one simple question. Who does the leader believe, the target or the bully? Workplace bullying often becomes a she said/she said or a he said/he said scenario and leaders do not know who is telling the truth. This is understandable because aggression can be extremely subtle and covert making it difficult for leadership to detect. However, leaders need to understand persistent workplace aggression so they can decipher the truth about what is going on in their organization.

In the workplace, bullies use different words and rhetoric from that of a target. Leaders need to develop excellent active listening skills so they can know the difference. Bullies often use language that blames others for their behavior. The bully will accuse other people, mostly the target, for what is happening and they will not take responsibility for any part of the organizational dysfunction. 

When asked about mistreatment of their colleagues, aggressors use phrases such as, “I am the one who is being bullied.” “I am not responsible for bad behavior because I am a good professional.” Or, “there is nothing wrong with our environment, the target is just making waves.”

On the other hand, the target will use statements such as “What can I do to help change the environment?” “I just want the workplace improve, so what can I do to make it better.” Or, “I will do my part and change what I can.”

A bully considers themselves a victim and will make no attempt to fix the environment. Targets generally want to improve the workplace and their statements emphasize a desire to so. This is a key difference for leaders to understand as they intervene in the workplace. Bullies blame others and do not see anything wrong with the current environment. Targets want the workplace to improve and are willing to help with this process. Bullies want to maintain the status quo because they do not want to lose their power and control.

Workplace bullies are skilled liars and manipulators and will continue to do so when confronted with being an aggressor. Unfortunately, many leaders fall victim to the lies and fabrications of the bully and therefore, they tend to believe the bully over the target. However, leaders need to remember that they are responsible for the overall work environment and taking sides without thoroughly investigating all the facts is not acceptable. They need to take allegations of bullying seriously and fact check what the bully says because they will continue to be deceitful. Leaders to be diligent about finding out exactly what is happening in their organization. For example, if a target has accused the aggressor of sending inappropriate emails and the bully says that they did not, a leader can retrieve and view emails to verify who is telling the truth.

This week, I encourage you to actively listen to what is being said in your work environment and identify areas where you can intervene to ensure a positive, healthy, workplace.

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.