Summary of the case study “The Playground Never Ends”
The case study “The Playground Never Ends” describes a serious problem having an effect on people of all ages – bullying. With the advance of the Internet, it has become nearly impossible to avoid being bullied in both schooling and working. Statistics show that 25 to 90 percent of employees experienced being bullied at least once in their career. This figure varies from 23 percent in university staff and faculty to 60 percent in retail and up to 90 percent in healthcare institutions.
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The primary reason for such spectacular figures is seen in failing to understand the concept of bullying. That is why it is vital to remember that bullying is “persistent, verbal and nonverbal aggression at work that includes personal attacks, social ostracism, and a multitude of other painful messages and hostile interactions, including insulting remarks, verbal threats, humiliation, and interference with one’s work” (Conrad & Poole, 2012, p. 263). It is usually lasting for 18-20 months, sometimes even decades. The gravest cause, however, is the ambiguity of the definition mentioned above and the absence of a single legal approach to determining it.
Bullying has adverse negative effects on targets. They vary from losing credibility, destroying reputation, and reducing performance to the most severe psychological and cognitive consequences including posttraumatic stress syndrome and attempts to commit suicide. There were even instances of actual suicides. The bullying cycle starts with emotional abuse and, over time, it gains momentum and turns into assaults, discrimination, and racial and/or sexual harassment. The primary reason for becoming a bully is primarily seen in fear to lose authority or formal positions in an organization and have more institutional power than that of the targets.
Sources of power available to bullies, targets, bystanders, HR professionals
Everyone involved in the vicious circle of bullying has certain sources of power and other resources. For example, bullies have some weight in an organization and a team that might include either formal position or organizational power and their resource is fear to lose it. Targets usually have higher levels of knowledge and competence, but they lack the emotional strength to stand against bullies. Bystanders have the power to choose whether to join a bully or resist him and stop the abuse, but, in most cases, their only resource is ignorance.
HR professionals have little authority in solving the problem because they cannot fire bullies, but they have the resource of life experience that should be used in determining whether a particular case is bullying or demanding leadership style and taking steps to create a safe and healthy environment in the workplace. These sources are interrelated because altogether they determine whether an organization will reach the desired high level of performance since the atmosphere of trust and openness in a team with the focus on cooperation and no space for fear of being bullied is, in fact, a key to success.
I must say after reading this case study that it affected my mindset. I never really thought that people experience being bullied in the working place. I believed that once an individual graduates from school, his or her life changes. However, I missed the fact that a bully or a target is not a stage of life, but a type of personality, so shifting places does not actually help solve this problem if a person does not change internally.
I believe that there is a crucial necessity of taking legal steps to cope with this challenge. Because the figures of bullying are astounding, there is a must for adopting a single legal approach to defining the concept and determining the responsibility for choosing to become a bully and affect others’ lives. What I realized is that neither a bully nor a target can consider themselves professionals because a true professional should create the atmosphere that would benefit their organization, and the emotional stress caused by bullying definitely does not.
Conrad, C., & Poole, M. S. (2012). Strategic organizational communication in a global economy (7th ed.). New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell. Web.