Incivility? Harassment? Bullying? (1)

Over the past few weeks I took the time to immerse myself in some of the latest articles and research regarding `respect in the workplace’. Here’s what I re-learned: when it comes to disrespectful behaviours in the workplace, it is often extremely difficult to clearly define the lines between various levels of problematic behaviours. And it is equally difficult to determine the appropriate classification label to assign to the various behaviours.
Over the past two decades, researchers have used a wealth of names to define what are essentially very similar types of behaviour. Here are some of the labels commonly used in the professional literature: Harassment, Workplace Deviance, Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, Workplace Incivility, Generalized Workplace Abuse, Workplace Harassment, Workplace Violence, Poisoned Workplace, Emotional Abuse.
Over the next several blog entries I will share my own classification, one that I think helps simplify things. I will distinguish between Incivility, Harassment and Bullying and discuss the effects that these have on people and organizations.
In the meantime, following is a partial list of the kinds of behaviours in question. I invite you to consider, how problematic, on a 1-10 scale, are each of them?
• Rudeness
• Spreading rumours or gossip
• `Off colour’ jokes or comments
• Insulting or offensive language and comments
• Practical jokes
• Withholding information that a colleague needs in order to perform their job
• Impoliteness, discourtesy
• Misrepresenting another person’s work as one’s own
• Rebuking of subordinates in public
• Remarks about another employee in front of customers
• Refusing to help a colleague
• Public temper tantrums
• Social exclusion, isolation
• Psychological harassment
• Intimidation
• Humiliation
• Shouting, hostility
• Profanities
• Discriminatory practices
• Personal criticism, ridiculing or demeaning;
• Sexual advances
• Removing areas of responsibility without consultation
• Setting unreasonable tasks or deadlines
• Physical threats or assault

Next time… the Incivility-Harassment-Bullying continuum!

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