Just to give anyone an awareness of what this blog is about, I use it as my own personal sounding board on workplace bullying, in particular nurse to nurse workplace bullying. This blog is a way to get it out of my head in order to articulate it better down the road. Many nurses wonder why a nurse bullies another nurse when it is such a helping profession. When I began this process three years ago in my PhD program, my goal was to get at the why we bully each other and what to do to stop it. I understand the why as it entails many, many different whys - frustration, oppressed group behavior (Roberts, 1984), stress, need for control/power, practice/theory gap, monkey see, monkey do, many, many different reasons why - escalating conflict also.
In nursing research, we are suppose to write a conceptual analysis of what it is we want to study. I realize after three years, it is not workplace bullying I want to study but how we react to the perception of being the target of workplace bullying. I want to know how we act, what we feel, and what we can do to strengthen our reaction to this stressor so we can continue to thrive in our work environments and not suffer the consequences physically and mentally. with so many terms, so many reasons became too broad. How we survive and thrive is more important while we try to change the psychosocial and physical environment that increases workplace bullying.
As someone pointed out to me, I can write an editorial some time in the future explaining my rational for calling perpetrators only perpetrators. Perpetrators may not even be aware of the emotional reactions their behavior ignites. Of course, they could very well know the stress they are exerting and the why they are doing it: to increase productivity, to put someone in their place, escalating conflict with power imbalance, instant dislike, competition, boredom, frustration, and stress are the low hanging fruit one can use to explain the behavior. However, the target of the behavior should be the focus from a research perspective.
I tend to look at the target as someone who is not yet aware they are being targeted or as someone who avoids, deflects, ignores, or confronts the bullying behavior of the person (no matter what the behavior is) by calling the person by their name and point out that the behavior is the problem. This person is a moving target. The emotional turmoil doesn't stick or brushes away easily. The victim is no longer a moving target. The perpetrator has intentionally or not, acquired and essential hit the target, disabling them towards victim. The victim perceives themselves as bullied and feels the helplessness and powerlessness in the situation. Again, just as with workplace bullying, I believe there are many reasons for that behavior pattern. They may fight but the bullying affects them physically and psychologically, socially, and economically. Their coping, social support strategies and any resiliency is just drained from them.
I want to add two more terms to this process, that of survivor and thriver. You can survive bullying but it has affected you in some way. Survivor means you survive but you are not living to what you believe your potential should be. A survivor needs to move through the stages of grief, anger, blaming, or bullying to protect themselves. Better yet is to be a thriver, who moves beyond what has been done by the perpetrator or our own thought processes who tries to implement changes by becoming a nurse educator or someone who shields others from the bullying behavior, or who works to change the system like myself or others who point to the the psychosocial environment to suggest or implement change in the organizational culture. It can be done and for each blog that is posted, for each healthy workplace bill submitted, and the more we talk about it, the more recognition will occur that how employers and how we treat each other is important.
Please remember, these are my opinions as I read copious articles on workplace bullying. Now, since I have gotten this out of my head for future reference, I can go back to writing how I am suppose to write as a nursing scholar.