It goes by different names, but it’s really all the same.
When I talk with companies and organizations about their bullying and harassment problems, I run into a lexicon problem. They don’t have a bullying problem, they have a harassment problem. They don’t have a harassment problem, they have a discrimination problem. They don’t have a discrimination problem, they have a bullying problem.
I’m always amazed when people seem to think that these behaviors are unique and have to be dealt with as separate problems. They are all the same, it’s just the word we are using to describe it is different.
- Here are some other words used by researchers on workplace bullying. It can also be called:
- Work related bullying (WRB)
- Physically intimidating bullying (PIB)
- Counterproductive workplace behavior and more.
The same language problem occurs in school bullying.
- Verbal bullying
- Physical bullying
The assumption is that the specific form of bullying dictates our response. And it doesn’t. Not really. Because they are all following the same dynamic and the protocol to get unwanted behavior – whatever it is and whatever we call it – to stop is the same. Yes, we will need to adjust our specific response within the protocol, but the protocol itself is going to be the same in all cases.
This is why I don’t like to teach specific responses until I’ve taught the dynamic that’s occurring and the protocol needed to interrupt that dynamic. Only then can we talk about how exactly we apply this protocol to specific incidences of inappropriate behavior. And yes, at that point, the response to a verbal harassment/bullying problem is going to harassment that is manifesting as a physical assault and/or battery. But the protocol used, is still the same.
The fact that the protocol is the same regardless of the specifics is also why I don’t really care what you call it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s harassment or bullying or discrimination. What matters is there is a behavior that is occurring that is inappropriate. And that behavior needs to be stopped and replaced with another more socially acceptable behavior. Focus on the fact a behavior needs to be changed and lets discuss how that occurs and how to make it occur using behavioral psychology. Only when we know what needs to happen can we develop a specific plan for our specific situation.
Want to learn more – take my free online program – Creating a Sexual Harassment training that works: https://humanistlearning.com/sexualharassment101/