KEY QUESTIONS AROUND BULLYING – Lets be clear; bullying or assertive?

IN today’s business sector it is as it always has been, highly competitive.

Sure there are modern innovations, new technologies, a faster pace, global economy, international trade, but at the end of the day, businesses exist to make a profit through providing a product or a service.

Thus the platform for competition. For the business there is the pressure to be the best service provider, the most economic, the organisation with the best customer service, provide the best experience for the consumer at the cheapest price.

It all adds to the cauldron that is business. And within business, there is the competition to provide all of the above whilst having the lowest overheads, creating the least amount of staff turnover with your staff team working at maximum capacity providing a better bottom line and greater profit margin. Phew! No pressure!

With the expansion of performance based management systems, the confusion around workplace bullying, the changes in the industrial relations laws from January 1, 2014, and the added confusion by legal practitioners to raise their rates of litigation through work place bullying actions, many business leaders are feeling confusion and frustration.

How do we get our staff to perform at maximum capacity without being accused of bullying?

Over the next few months here we will help provide clarity around the subject of workplace bullying.

According to the industrial relations laws now in place, any enterprise that employs more than three individuals must provide workplace anti-bullying training.

These same industrial relations laws that involve directly the Fair Work Commission (FWC) can be confusing at best.

We aim to bring some much needed clarity as many organisations ask us to do as we deliver our make Bullying History Workplace anti-bullying training.

Let’s uncover what bullying actually is.

Bullying is the ongoing, repeated and often targeted violence, threats of violence or antagonising behaviour by a person or group of people carried out towards another person or group of people resulting in an imbalance of power.

So what is the difference between being assertive and bullying? Assertive behaviour doesn’t mean aggressive. Don’t confuse the two. You can’t be swearing at people, belittling them, embarrassing them publicly, threatening them, and say you’re just being assertive.

Assertive behaviour is best described as firm but fair. Assertive behaviour is when you won’t back down, it doesn’t necessarily constitute raised voices.

Assertive people are often seen as respectful. Quiet but confident. Cool and calm, but strong and unwavering. An assertive person can very rarely be accused of bullying because they often have made all expectations very clear at the outset, then stick to those expectations, no matter what.

They rarely have to enforce their will; they simply carry out what they said they would do in the first place as initially stated.

An aggressive person on the other hand will always revert back to raised voices, inserting themselves within the personal space of others, attempt to intimidate others with posturing, swearing, glaring and other negative facial expressions.

Then there are the threats, emails, looks, verbal and physical threats. this, repeatedly occurring, you can bet your bottom dollar, this will be seen as bulling.

So with assertive leadership, if you want to clear up any confusion, and you prefer to lead this way, you want your staff to be assertive in their roles and responsibilities, provide appropriate workplace anti-bullying training and you and your team will find yourself on the same page, moving in the same direction, with a positive attitude and a clear vision.

Your staff will actually feel less pressure because there will be less confusion and a greater understanding of expectations.

Voices won’t need to be raised, threats won’t need to be made, there will be greater staff retention and better productivity will be your end result.

Assertive behaviour is expected if you want to succeed, aggressive behaviour is unnecessary as that is what is the nature of bullying, and will be dealt with as such.

I hope this helps. Until next time, yours in Making Bullying History.

Brett Murray is CEO of the Make Bullying History Foundation.

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