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Wednesday , July 28 2021

A first-of-its-kind study on ‘workplace bullying’

‘Systematic organized mistreatment’

Dr Hamad Al-Aslawi

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 2: A teaching staff member of the Society and Community Service Department of College of Social Sciences in Kuwait University Dr Hamad Al-Aslawi, as part of his thesis, conducted a study, which is considered first of its kind in the Gulf region, concerning workplace or occupational bullying, reports Al-Anba daily.

In an interview, he explained that the study tackled several prominent issues such as definition of workplace bullying, its various types, and prevalence rate. Theoretical explanations about workplace bullying, its characteristics, its victims, and the effects of workplace bullying were highlighted along with ways to confront this phenomenon in Kuwait.

Dr Al-Aslawi defined workplace bullying as a systematic organized mistreatment aimed at hurting or infl icting harm on the victims, who usually are subordinates, colleagues or officials. ‘If this phenomenon continues for a long time, it causes serious social, psychological and mental problems for the victims’, he affirmed According to Dr Al-Aslawi, the workplace bullying resembles bullying among children in schools in terms of the negative impacts on the victims.

However, the workplace environment differs from that in schools due to which the technique and method of bullying differs. The psychological aspect dominates workplace bullying in contrast to the bullying among children which is usually based on violence. Schools provide protection to the children via teachers but such protection is not made available for adults at a workplace.

He said, “Majority of the bullying behavior in the workplace is padded in work conducts and duties, and how to deal and adapt with it. Therefore, it is difficult to prove its existence. A child bully, who does not get deterred and is not rehabilitated, grows up with this attitude and ends up being a bullying boss or co-worker”.

In his opinion, the distinction between bullying and violence is that violence is instantaneous and stops with the end of the incident and punishment of the culprits, but workplace bullying is based on the need or agenda of the bully to control and subdue his/her targets. The bullies choose their targets, timings, location and method.

Therefore, such type of bullying is organized and systemic in a way that the bullies execute their evil acts in the form of a group of actions or refusal to do certain actions. This continues in a constant manner and perhaps with the involvement of others in the process either voluntarily or by coercion, in order to bully their targets who are unable to defend themselves. The objective is usually to negatively affect the victim psychologically, mentally and health-wise.

The culprits use their authority to destabilize the psychological balance of the victim. It is worth mentioning that violence and bullying are categorized under hostile behavior, but bullying is an advanced stage of violence and its extension, therefore, is regarded as most dangerous of all behaviors. Dr Al-Aslawi briefed on the various types of workplace bullying. Discrimination based on gender, race or ethnicity, racial or sexual harassment represent just one quarter of the reported cases of bullying. There are also direct and indirect bullying which mainly depend on psychological manipulation.

He explained that in 1997, scholars gave various classifications to bullying, and described it as behavior that threaten occupational status. For instance, undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work, making jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’ either verbally or via e-mail, excluding or isolating someone socially, spreading malicious rumors, gossiping, or innuendo.

Other types of workplace bullying are intimidating a person, physically abusing or threatening to abuse, removing areas of responsibilities without cause, constantly changing work guidelines, establishing impossible deadlines that will cause the individual to fail, withholding necessary information or purposefully giving wrong information, and intruding on a person’s privacy by pestering, spying or stalking. In addition to that, assigning unreasonable duties or workload which are unfavorable for one person (in a way that creates unnecessary pressure) is considered as workplace bullying.

Also, assigning less work for creating a feeling of uselessness in the victim, yelling or using profanity, criticizing a person persistently or constantly, belittling a person’s opinions, issuing unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment, blocking applications for training, blocking leave or promotion, and tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment are all part of workplace bullying.

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