Friday, April 8, 2011

G: Guilt - Workplace Bullying


  1. the state of having done a wrong or committed an offense; culpability, legal or ethical
  2. a painful feeling of self-reproach resulting from a belief that one has done something wrong or immoral (yourdictionary)

Bullying and guilt are often intertwined:
The target might be encouraged to feel guilty if they take action against the perpetrator because it is seen as harming the department by bringing disrepute upon it. Disciplinary action may even be threatened. the underlying message is "How dare you let anyone know things aren't perfect here".

The target may feel guilty for taking time off work, particularly if you work with children, patients, the community or for the ambulance service, fire brigade, police force etc. After all these people need you!

Alternatively you may have been advised by your health care professionals to take stress leave, and feel it is justified, but the bully makes slurs about this decision and questions your motives, commitment and mental health.  The bully implies to others that you're weak because you need time off. Bullies are deceptive, amoral and abuse their power which makes it extremely difficult to stand up to them.  They are clever, manipulative and controlling.

Adults often state they feel guilty for being weak in being unable to stand up to the bully. After all, we left that behind at school didn't we, we're strong adults? We don't expect to find the schoolyard bully has graduated into a workplace monster, sneakier, more malicious and with many years of bullying expertise under their belt.

Very complex, very mucky. Seek help if you believe you are being subject to workplace bullying.
You feel guilty for taking time off to do something therapeutic and wholesome.
Here tomorrow: Harassment & Health

How to make a hyperlink signature here.

There are many outstanding resources on line. A couple I find useful are Bullying. No way! an Australian resource for teachers and students, and a UK site Bully On Line. This is in no way an exhaustive list, and each country will no doubt have equally good or more relevant websites.

Over at jumpingaground I'm spending the month Drabbling using alliteration, with an environmental theme.


Anonymous said...

I despise bullying of any kind. I see bullies as extremely weak people who are trying to compensate for something that is not put together correctly in their own life.

sue said...

Stephen, you've got it in one there!

Arlee Bird said...

I had to deal with this sort of situation when I was managing a small warehouse operation a few years ago. One of the women (my sister-in-law) developed a conflict with 2 other women who worked there. Each side claimed bullying and harassment from the other. Eventually when things had gotten really ugly and I gathered the evidence it showed me that my sil was the culprit and I had to let her go. Nearly caused my wife and I to divorce and a lawsuit at work.
One lesson learned: don't hire in-laws!

Tossing It Out
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sue said...

Arlee, thanks for sharing, That's an aspect of guilt I hadn't considered. Tough decision to be made, and a really unenviable situation to be in.