Bullying is a behavior manifested through verbal comments and physical actions aimed at destabilizing another person. This behavior is quite common in high schools, but everyone expects the bullies to grow out of it. In reality, bullying is present in all organizations and institutions.
Impatience and aggressiveness are common among employees in higher education, but these acts grow into harassment when they are being drawn out over a longer period of time. Heinz Leymann, a notable German psychologist, found the perfect term for workplace bullying: psychological terror.
If you are wondering how to identify bullying in the workplace, Leymann’s explanation will give you the guiding points: the bully “deliberately instills fear and anxiety in others in an intimidating fashion.”
Institutional Bullying – the Dark Side of Higher Education
Universities are supposed to be the sanctuaries for like-minded scholars. Before getting a position in higher education, the candidate has great expectations for the job description: collaboration, teamwork, and professional relationships that encourage everyone’s growth.
The reality is different. Scholars constantly compete with each other, since they are being valued and respected according to the principles of social order. Bullying in university is an existent phenomenon that we can no longer neglect. These institutions impose a stressful authoritarian workplace. With lack of resources and support services, the morale between the employees is brought down along with the productivity and creative energy. This paradox of contemporary corporatism inevitably leads to distorted values and psychological harassment.
It’s not easy to define bullying in working place, since some people take the robust performance of their colleagues as offensive behavior. There are few certain indications of bullying among university staff:
The unwanted and offensive actions are often directed towards employees in lower positions. A head of division has the right to arrange meetings with the lecturers and ask them to cover different modules. This superior position is often being abused in terms of imposing impossible requirements and threats, or even termination of employment;
University employees are often being encouraged to fabricate complaints about some of their colleagues who show great performance and are likely to be promoted;
The bully makes the working environment uncomfortable and intolerable. He/she is constantly trying to demean the victims in private or public. They use offensive language to make other people feel uncomfortable;
The bullies among university staff often start rumors about their colleagues;
The motives for harassment are often based upon organizational, religious, and political choices. The bullies impose extra workloads for the individuals with different points of view.
How to Stop Bullying in Universities
It takes long years of commitment, research, and studying for someone to land a position at a university. When they become victims of bullying, the consequences can be devastating. If you find yourself in such situation, it’s important to recognize it and take proper actions:
The first and most important thing you need to do is to stand up for yourself. You know your rights: no one can make you feel inferior in the workplace. Handling a workplace bully takes unshakeable self-confidence and strong interpersonal skills;
You can blend into the organization and find support in other colleagues. If there is a bully among university staff, he probably has more targets;
You can always take legal action. Analyze the policy of your university. If there is no other way to handle the situation, then you should take the issue to the HR department.