The Workplace Bullying Institute describes workplace bullying as: “Repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse.” In its 2021 survey, the WBI noted that 43% of remote employees reported being bullied at work with 50% of that bullying taking place in meetings. On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim, Amy and Jason talk about combatting bullying in remote work environments.
Listen to the episode:
Episode at a Glance
Whether it’s newly remote teams, folks who have worked remotely for years, or hybrid in-person and remote working environments, bullying of remote employees has skyrocketed over the past two years. According to both the Workplace Bullying Institute and Project Include, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased harm to remote workers.
In addition, Project Include noted that general anxiety among all employees from CEOs to new hires has increased by 85% during the pandemic. And while bullying has always existed among remote teams, the stress of COVID-19 has created an unsustainable 24/7 work culture and increased micromanagement, especially among remote managers.
According to Project Include, “The pandemic-driven shift to remote workplaces has exacerbated longstanding, systemic problems and amplified workplace biases. Bad management and communications got worse, as did anxiety and work-life balance, especially for people from marginalized communities.”
So, what can you do about workplace bullying? Listen to the episode and use the Radical Candor podcast checklist below, which contains tips you can put into practice right away whether you’re the person being harmed or the person causing harm.
Radical Candor Podcast Checklist
- If you’re being bullied: Confront bullying with a “you” statement that shows a person there will be negative consequences for their behavior. The consequence doesn’t have to be super intense — sometimes just asking a person a question that it’s hard for them to answer is enough. For example, “What’s going on for you here?” Or “You can’t talk to me that way.”
This is all well and good, but what do you do when the person has power over you? When the person who is biased, prejudiced, or bullying you is for example your boss? In these cases, I encourage people to look for leverage in the kinds of checks and balances that a healthy workplace or a healthy society offer. It may feel like the person has unlimited control over you, but often we have more agency and more degrees of freedom than we at first realize.
- If you’re behaving in a bullying way or at the very least micromanaging your team: Take a step back, stop talking and start listening to problems, asking relevant questions and collaboratively brainstorming solutions. Focus on removing obstacles and defusing explosive situations. Replace blame with curiosity. Basically, you want to be hands-on, ears on and mouth off.
- Recognize the role that power plays in bullying. As individuals with power, even a small amount of power makes us more likely to engage in bullying behavior. As organizations, we need to systemically create real consequences for bullying behavior, especially as it relates to relationships with power dynamics.
Radical Candor Podcast Resources
2021 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey: Remote Work & Bullying
Project Include: Remote work since Covid-19 is exacerbating harm. What companies need to know and do.
Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center: Conflict vs. Bullying: What’s the Difference?
Marie Claire: When Working From Home Becomes a Never-Ending Nightmare
Forbes: How To Confront Injustice In The Workplace, According To Best-Selling Author Kim Scott
The New York Times: Here’s How to Deal With Men (Thwack!)
Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder
Business Insider: Atlassian is weeding out the ‘brilliant jerks’, changing the way it does performance reviews to reward workers who show ‘heart and balance’ not just technical skills
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t
Harvard Business Review: HBR Lives Where Taylorism Died
Radically Candid Conversations — Kim Scott & Trier Bryant Talk Bias, Prejudice & Bullying In the Workplace
Toxic Communication in Virtual Workspaces: A Looming Liability for Remote and Hybrid Companies
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The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.