D 02 Killing Me Softly: Anonymous Abuse, Victimization, and Family-Like Dynamics in Workplace Bullying Occurrences

Friday, 22 July 2016: 10:45 AM-12:00 PM
Description/Overview: Workplace bullying can be defined as tacitly or explicitly aggressive, engaged, repeated behavior, whether intentional in nature or enacted through “reckless disregard” (Parzefall & Salin, 2010, p. 763). Activities constituting bullying incorporate two necessary components: a perpetrator’s actions implying threat (whether that implication is intentional or reckless) and a victim’s perception of the perpetrator’s actions as threatening. The threat, itself, can be physical or psychological in nature. Bullying in the workplace typically is enacted through subtle, interpersonal communication processes. Like more blatant, physical actions, the subtle communications of workplace bullying establish a power imbalance favoring the position of the bully. Bullying behaviors, themselves, tend to be anonymous—mysterious and unspecified. For example, bullying behaviors sometimes include perpetrators’ posing as colleagues interested in the welfare of the people they are, in fact, targeting. Those bullies who are particularly adept are skilled at using formally-assigned workplace roles—such as mentor, director, or administrator—to subtly change the rules by which they act interpersonally, thus clandestinely gaining and maintaining power over others. In all, through their anonymity, the behaviors of workplace bullying are inauthentic. It is the inauthentic anonymity of bullying communication and actions that makes their recognition difficult, especially for those who are not immediately engaged with the bully perpetrator. As bullying actions remain anonymous, the stage is set for the establishment of stable constellations of factors that, through their denial, serve to perpetuate bullying in the workplace. As it is enacted and allowed to propagate, workplace bullying disrupts both personal and organizational equilibria (Condon, 2015; Dzurec, et al., 2013; Harvey, Treadway, Heames, & Duke, 2009; Indvik & Johnson, 2012), and it yields remarkable and seemingly paradoxical damage over the long term, not only for intended targets but also for workplaces in general. The prevalence of published reports regarding workplace bullying makes clear the rampant growth of this problematic interpersonal dynamic internationally. In boardroom, office, and factory settings, workplace employees worldwide report increasing incidences of bullying, sometimes provoked by superiors, but as often incited by peers or subordinates (Wright & Hill, 2015). In this symposium, presenters will describe findings of three, interrelated studies in workplace bullying, focusing on the ways that bullying behaviors ensnarl and victimize intended targets. During our session, we will present findings describing students’ perceptions of the ways bullying is manifested. We will examine published descriptions of processes that lead bullies’ intended targets down a path toward victimization. And we will discuss faculty members’ perceptions of the occurrence of family-oriented roles (i.e., styles of communicating, supporting, and nurturing) in academic workplaces. Through synthesis of the findings of these three studies, our discussions will serve to demonstrate how together, individual and contextual characteristics contribute to stealthily advancing and perpetuating workplace bullying, inconspicuously but certainly yielding paradoxical damage over the long term, not only for intended targets but also for workplaces in general.
Moderators:  Nancy G. Cameron, DNP, MSN, MSHOEd, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, College of Nursing, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
Symposium Organizers:  Laura C. Dzurec, PhD, MS, BS, RN, PMHCNS-BC, ANEF, School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA
'In the Family Way:' Linking Dynamics From Family of Origin With Subsequent Workplace Bullying Experiences

Monica Kennison, EdD, MSN, RN
Baccalaureate Nursing Program, Berea College, Berea, KY, USA

Anonymous Abuse: Describing Student Encounters With Workplace Bully Types

Barbara J. Patterson, PhD, RN, ANEF
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA

Beyond the Specious Present: Workplace Bullying Victimization's Roots in Lived Experience

Laura C. Dzurec, PhD, MS, BS, RN, PMHCNS-BC, ANEF
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA