At one time or another, many of us have been affected by workplace bullies — either directly or indirectly. Two surveys, one by Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) and the other by Zogby International, define bullying as, “repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevent work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation and humiliation.” The WBI study found that as much as 35 percent of workers have experienced bullying. Even more astonishing is that the vast majority of bullies sit in management and executive seats, which means they are able to leverage their power to suppress complaints against them.
Although bullies are often the catalyst of short-term spikes in production, the behavior is insidious to creating long-term productivity. In fact, a study conducted by John Medina found that individuals who are bullied in the workplace performed 50 percent worse on cognitive tests than their non-bullied counterparts. Another study, this one conducted by Dr. Noreen Tehrani, found that individuals who experience workplace bullying exhibit similar psychological and physical symptoms — such as nightmares and anxiety — as victims of violence from Northern Ireland and soldiers returning from overseas combat.