Emotional Intelligence within Workplace Bullying

We are all familiar with workplace bullying. Whether it be that you have experienced it, witnessed it or heard about it.

It’s a topic that is thankfully receiving a great deal of focus by many workplaces and society in general. This article is not another article about the statistics, instead let’s talk about the role that EI plays within workplace bullying and the drivers leading to it occurring in the first place.

Any form of bullying is an interaction and/or communication with another person which means our emotional intelligence is at play. There are emotional drivers, beliefs and values guiding what we do. Our level of EI is what determines how well we interact and/or communicate. Our level of EI also determines how we respond regardless or whether we are on the giving or receiving end. Therefore, EI is both the cause and solution of workplace bullying.

Let’s take a step back and look at 3 of the most common drivers leading to workplace bullying.

  • Self-Absorbed and Lack of Self-Control- The most common driver is being stuck so deep in our head that we totally lack self-awareness of who and what we are doing. The impact that we are having on others isn’t even a distant thought as our mind is wrapped within ourselves. This can present itself through a feeling of self-importance, the need for control and to feel needed or indispensable. Deep down this could really be a lack of self-worth that we are looking to fulfil. Either way, our mind struggles to look past our self and see the impact on other people until we actually own who we are and become self-aware of what makes us tick. The ability to focus on others and our impact on them is very hard to do if we don’t do the hard work on ourselves first.
  • IQ over EQ/EI- There are people whose knowledge and ability are brilliant in their technical field. They are often the ‘go to’ person for all technical questions. They bring customers and money in the door based on their skills and ability but their EI can be extremely low, and they might not be very nice to work with at times. The impact they have on those around them isn’t positive yet the risk of losing them to the company is too great. This is when we make poor choices out of fear of losing them and put their IQ over their EQ/EI. We think we are doing the right thing, but we are doing the quite the opposite. This continues to decrease their EI and unfortunately can result in others feeling bullied or treated poorly. It relates back to Driver 1 – the person is now self-absorbed in their own self-importance and indispensability. The impact and feelings of others is not of concern to them.
  • Culturally Accepted I’ve worked with too many businesses where I have heard inappropriate behaviour excused as ‘don’t worry about them, that’s just who they are’ or ‘they’ve always been like that, they are not going to change’. This can be in reference to people that fit into both Driver 2 and 1. It can also be in reference to the culture that has been created and endorsed as being acceptable. As soon as we start excusing behaviour, walking past it and not calling it out, we are actually endorsing it. We are saying to everyone’s subconscious mind that this is indeed acceptable. Confrontation is not something that most people enjoy, so it may seem easier to do this then to address the problem, but what we are actually breeding is a far bigger problem. Bullying incidents occur more frequently in environments that have allowed it to be culturally acceptable whether it was intentional or not. The fundamentals of EI are in question when this occurs.

So, what can we actually do about these Drivers to address the core problem? You guessed it, strip it all back to basics and work on developing everyone’s E.I. The first priority becomes owning who we are with each individual working on their self-awareness and purpose. What get’s them out of bed in the morning? Peeling back the layers and taking a good hard look at ourselves. Yes, it will be awkward. Yes, it will feel uncomfortable. Yes, it is challenging. But yes, it is required and much better the outcome we are breeding should we do nothing.

To really work on workplace bullying and the impacts we have on those around us, E.I. is the cause, and the solution. The 5-step process to disrupting mindsets of Own It, Face It, Feel It, Ask It and Drive It starts with looking inside ourselves. What role are you currently playing in workplace bullying and cultural acceptance?

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