Reflections from Copenhagen (Guest Commentary)

When it comes to workplace bullying, it’s time for us to stop working in silos
By Sharone Bar-David
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/14/2012

It’s been nearly 30 years since Scandinavian researchers began studying the phenomenon of psychological abuse in the workplace. I recently had an opportunity to attend the International Conference on Workplace Bullying in Denmark and it appears the research community across the globe is still struggling with some very fundamental questions.

What is bullying? Currently, there’s no consensus regarding the exact meaning of this term. All experts agree bullying is characterized by a repeated pattern of behaviour that undermines a person’s credibility, social standing or work performance. However, beyond that, definitions and measuring methods vary greatly.

Does bullying have to be intentional? Contrary to widespread misconception, most experts agree bullying does not require proof of intention by the perpetrator. In reality, bullying has to be intentional only if the jurisdiction in which a business operates defines it as such.