Workplace bullying

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Main Question or Discussion Point

How common is this at your workplace? Do you think it's less common in engineering/science jobs than other places? How did you handle it if you observed such?
 
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  • #2
Bystander
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If you make distinctions between physical intimidation/abuse as "bullying," and mental/personal intimidation/abuse as "politics," it's less common in engineering and science; if you don't wish to make the distinction, it's not. That said, people with scientific and engineering backgrounds may be less inclined to take such behaviors personally.
 
  • #3
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How does one deal with it? Wouldn't the best strategy be just becoming extremely confrontational, and start abusing the person back? Or complain to the supervisor? That's what I would do.

Though I'm not working yet, still a student, but I became curious on this after I read studies that claimed a large part of the working population are being bullied. Amazing that educated people in their 30s and 40s fail to grow up and develop morals and become bullies. Seems like a good beating is what is deserved as far as I am concerned.
 
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  • #4
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(snip)Seems like a good beating is what is deserved as far as I am concerned.
Perfect, this gives me a several options: 1) take it in a "politically correct" position of moral outrage that you would even think of exhibiting behavior you to which you object; 2) regard it as very artful irony; 3) speculate that you aren't perfectly familiar with the English language and culture, and have stated your reactions to bullying in a way that can be misunderstood; 4) realize that you're younger than I am, and have yet to learn that you can't control other peoples' thoughts/attitudes/behaviors, and that it's not really worth your time to even try doing so.

I'll take it that 2) and/or 4) are the case, and say I've enjoyed the exchange of ideas so far.
 
  • #5
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I became curious on this after I read studies that claimed....
Which studies? Tell us what your source is and you'll get much better and more directly relevant responses.
 
  • #6
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Which studies? Tell us what your source is and you'll get much better and more directly relevant responses.
This one, for instance http://www.theguardian.com/money/us-money-blog/2014/jun/26/workplace-bullying-rise-research-shows
Perfect, this gives me a several options: 1) take it in a "politically correct" position of moral outrage that you would even think of exhibiting behavior you to which you object; 2) regard it as very artful irony; 3) speculate that you aren't perfectly familiar with the English language and culture, and have stated your reactions to bullying in a way that can be misunderstood; 4) realize that you're younger than I am, and have yet to learn that you can't control other peoples' thoughts/attitudes/behaviors, and that it's not really worth your time to even try doing so.

I'll take it that 2) and/or 4) are the case, and say I've enjoyed the exchange of ideas so far.
Bystander: I assume you understood I was talking about bullies deserving a beating, not the victims, right?

If so, you are confusing violence with bullying. Bullying has nothing to do with violence in itself, it's about picking on other people for amusement. I personally think a bully getting beaten is the most fitting punishment, sort of a defeat on ones own terms in a sense.

And do you honestly think a person who draws enjoyment out of abusing individuals who are unable to assert themselves should be ignored because "you can't control how other people act"? Of course you can, especially if you are in a position of authority.
 
  • #7
Doug Huffman
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Modus ponendo ponens; bullying.

I was a senior technician/engineer, on the cusp of management level, when we were required to admit unqualified degreed personnel including females to our practice. There is a silver lining in every little cloud. That was in about 1990, in 1993 the facility was declared excess and closed in 1995 and I retired at 47 y.o. Y'all are welcome to the world that you made.
 
  • #8
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How common is this at your workplace? Do you think it's less common in engineering/science jobs than other places? How did you handle it if you observed such?
Common, very common. A friend of mine has a small body size and have to work with all Mr. Biceps. As the only foreigner in a US company working on work visa, the fact that physical intimidation always exists is needless to say. He's not always fairly treated and has to complete heavy workloads before heading home late at night everyday.
I think all of big guys in the US should be engayed before released into society.
 
  • #9
Ryan_m_b
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I don't know about being more or less common. One thing I have noticed though is that in academia there are far less rigorous procedures for dealing with this kind of thing, especially if you are a PhD student. When I've had jobs in companies (non-science) there have been very clear policies on workplace harassment. Procedures for complaints were efficient and HR took issues very seriously.

Conversely I've known female PhD students to be sexually harassed by their supervisors and other students who have been verbally abused by their supervisor and have no real support network.
 
  • #10
Ryan_m_b
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Modus ponendo ponens; bullying.

I was a senior technician/engineer, on the cusp of management level, when we were required to admit unqualified degreed personnel including females to our practice. There is a silver lining in every little cloud. That was in about 1990, in 1993 the facility was declared excess and closed in 1995 and I retired at 47 y.o. Y'all are welcome to the world that you made.
What does this mean? I don't see any relevance to bullying and I'm suspicious of your seemingly gratuitous qualification that some personnel were female.
 
  • #11
StatGuy2000
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I'm a biostatistician working in the pharma/biotech/health care field for over a decade now and I have never personally encountered bullying or abuse in my workplace at all, either directed toward myself or others. On the other hand, I've known people who have worked in different fields tell me of their experiences of being harassed or constantly yelled at or berated by their supervisors or co-workers.

Curiously, the people I've known who have experienced such abuse/bullying worked in either the art/design field (as graphic designers) or in the HR field (I know one person who worked at an HR consulting firm specializing in conducting background checks for prospective employees). Given the limited sample size, I can't conclude that bullying is more endemic in these fields, however.
 
  • #12
russ_watters
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It must be a field-specific thing. I was shocked that the percentage was so high in the Guardian link and have never experienced any. Though I question whether some people may be using too loose a definition, particularly when it comes to bullying from a boss.
 
  • #13
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...I've known female PhD students to be sexually harassed by their supervisors ...
I side with those who think it's a good sign that those students or employees are going to have a good promotion.
 
  • #14
Ryan_m_b
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I side with those who think it's a good sign that those students or employees are going to have a good promotion.
So in your mind if someone is groped or has frequent, frightening sexual suggestions/advances against them it's ok because hypothetically the person doing it could be influential when it comes to future career prospects?
 
  • #15
Doug Huffman
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I took it to mean that the victims will be rewarded with promotion.
 
  • #16
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Maybe the problematic elements in this thread speaks for itself.
 
  • #17
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Modus ponendo ponens; bullying.

I was a senior technician/engineer, on the cusp of management level, when we were required to admit unqualified degreed personnel including females to our practice. There is a silver lining in every little cloud. That was in about 1990, in 1993 the facility was declared excess and closed in 1995 and I retired at 47 y.o. Y'all are welcome to the world that you made.
Is it really such a scandal that women were allowed to work in your department?

I side with those who think it's a good sign that those students or employees are going to have a good promotion.
What? Why is that a good sign?
 
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  • #18
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a bully getting beaten is the most fitting punishment
unqualified degreed personnel including females
it's a good sign that those students or employees are going to have a good promotion.
I took it to mean that the victims will be rewarded with promotion.
Elaborating on my previous post, this thread should probably in itself indicate that STEM-fields are just as lacking in tolerance and progressiveness as anywhere else. If not worse in some aspects. I see a lot of articles about sexual harassment... :c
 
  • #19
lisab
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Maybe the problematic elements in this thread speaks for itself.
It all starts when humans have to interact with other humans...;).

Yes I've seen bullying at my workplace -- NOT the physical type you see in kids, though.

We just got rid of just such a problem at my work, in fact. A long-time employee retired. I won't go into boring details of her MO, but having seen how the department worked before she left compared to after is really remarkable. Everyone walked on eggshells around her before, it was tense as hell! It took months before some people would relax enough to talk (and laugh) about her "antics".

She was married to a high mucky-muck in the organization -- believe me, now I know why good companies don't allow this.
 
  • #20
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Victims tend to be young or small girls, I think most women think the way I do too.
 
  • #21
Doug Huffman
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Interesting word, progressiveness. Like bullying it is freighted with prejudice and bigotry -- and politics.
 
  • #22
lisab
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Victims tend to be young or small girls, I think most women think the way I do too.
I completely disagree. Bullies in the workplace are after power, they go after people who they feel they can take power from. How you look -- your size, gender, age -- is not a factor, IME.
 
  • #23
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Interesting word, progressiveness. Like bullying it is freighted with prejudice and bigotry -- and politics.
How about "Not harassing people" or "Not having a 1700s attitude" or "Abstaining from superficial judgement" or, simply , "Being decent human beings"?
Now, why don't you explain the significance or relevance of the applicants' genders?
 
  • #24
lisab
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Interesting word, progressiveness. Like bullying it is freighted with prejudice and bigotry -- and politics.
I can tell you're still bitter about this. But I'm having a hard time following how your work situation was bullying, instead of simply bad management - can you elaborate?
 
  • #25
lisab
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The OP asked about how to deal with it. Excellent question.

In my department, people dealt with it by avoiding the bully. Picture a stream moving around a rock - it was like that. People just worked around her, if possible. Going to management was useless because her husband was in upper management, and whatever manager you might go talk to was well aware of the problem already (and probably had to deal with it daily, too!).

It's a horrible thing to have to deal with, very corrosive and inefficient. I'm the kind of person who takes things at surface value. I don't want to play politics or deal with subterfuge, but sometimes I couldn't avoid it.
 

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