Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We owe thanks to Oya Özağaç, our resident expert, for this wonderful activity.
The selective listening exercise below should be done before or after covering the related reading, “The Silent Epidemic: Workplace Bullying” listed under “Level ** reading tasks”. The activity can be done in the following ways:
1.       If you are a teacher covering this in class, give the students five minutes to read the questions, deliver the text at a natural pace and then give the students 5 more minutes to check their answers.
2.       If you are on your own, copy paste the text on to google translate and answer the questions as you listen. Alternatively, download as an mp3 and listen in your own time, more comfortably.
3.       If you use word to write your answers and remember to switch to English, you will also be able to benefit from the spell check and the grammar check.

 SELECTIVE LISTENING: Fighting Workplace Bullies –
From your readings, you may have understood that bullying can take many forms. It can happen at school, at a workplace, even on a public bus. Today I am going to cover a small part of a really big problem: bullying at work. First, I am going to explain what bullying at the workplace means and second, I am going to explain the ways to fight bullying.
 According to the WBI Definition of Workplace Bullying, workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: Verbal abuse, offensive behaviors which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, and lastly work sabotage, which prevents work from getting done. Let me repeat the definition for you to be able to take notes: the forms of  workplace bullying can be verbal abuse as well as offensive behavior, which may even extend to work sabotage.
On the way to fighting workplace bullies, the first thing is preparing yourself to respond. The first question you should answer is “Are you ready to fight back against a bully at your work place?” It’s tempting to confront him immediately, now that you understand his motivations and recognize his behaviors. But that usually isn’t a good idea. It will be difficult enough to deal with the bully without adding lack of preparation. In other words, before confronting a bully, it is necessary to get prepared.
That’s not to say that you couldn’t respond right now. It might even work out well. But otherwise it’s better to hold your fire, particularly if the bully is highly skilled and well-entrenched.
Preparation has to have two forms: mental and financial preparation, after which you can prepare a strategy for fighting back, covered in the next lecture.
As for mental preparation, you should be ready to accept the fact that you will face many problems. You are likely to experience many ups and downs as you battle a workplace bully. To be effective, you need a resilient attitude. What is meant by resilient attitude is that you must recover easily and quickly from the hardship you will live through. That will allow you to endure difficult circumstances without feeling overwhelmed. Being resilient will also make you far more effective in your daily interactions with the bully. To sum up, being ready to recover has two advantages: first, you do not feel overwhelmed and second, you become more effective when dealing with the bully.
When you display a positive demeanor, it shows everyone--especially the bully--that you aren’t bothered by his aggressive tactics. You may even convey slight amusement at his more obvious bullying behavior. By displaying calmness and poise, and staying in good humor, you become a more difficult target.
An interesting finding about workplace bullying is that you are alone in fighting your own battle. You need to expect to be on your own in your fight with a workplace bully, with no support from within the company. Even if you have colleagues you consider close friends, they may not support you. They may stay loyal to you, but don’t count on it. They are more likely to distance themselves from your problems, hoping to preserve their own position and opportunities. In other words, they want to keep their own position and opportunities by putting a distance between themselves and you.
And how does the management react against bullying? You should prepare for the possibility that fighting a bully will get you fired. If you are alone in fighting a bully, management has an easy way to resolve the situation. However, the management almost always supports bullying because first, they do not like victims and second, bullies get the job done. Well, it is really an interesting fact that the management will support the bully rather than the bully’s targets.
As for financial preparation, you should accept the fact that taking on a workplace bully can get you fired, or drive you to the point of quitting. Take some time to consider the consequences. Are financial pressures making you desperate to hang on to your job? If so, you will be in no position to calmly and effectively fight a bully. So what’s the solution?
The solution is finding another job before you start fighting back. You could line up a new job in advance, which will make you feel more powerful because then, you will not have to keep on working at a workplace that does not protect your rights. You have other options. There is the possibility that a vindictive workplace bully will harm your ability to find a new job. Let’s say, for example, that as you fight back, you either get to the point of being fired or you resign before finding a new job. In this situation, the bully may provide negative feedback on your performance to any prospective new employers. This negative feedback on your performance may affect your chance of finding another job because he would be poisoning the well, which means he can cleverly paint a negative picture of you without being explicit. For this reason, you may be better off lining up a new job before you get too far down the road in fighting a workplace bully.
When you talk to prospective employers, be careful not to complain about your current situation. Instead, explain your motivation in positive terms. Explain that you are generally satisfied with your current job but you are seeking to improve your prospects. Don’t mention that you can’t stand your boss. One common pitfall  for  job seekers is that they complain about their previous employers, which leaves a negative impression. Instead, try to find companies you admire, and then describe that admiration as your reason for interviewing. Alternatively, you could simply explain that you want a job closer to home. Networking also proves to be a highly effective method of finding good jobs. Your network of friends and former co-workers help you in providing a positive impression by giving a personal introduction to a prospective employer.
So far, we have looked at the definition of workplace bullying and two ways of preparation to fight it, namely mental and financial preparation. Workplace bullying may appear as an individual problem; however, it may also reflect on your life after work. If you are married, the upsetting work environment may reflect on your family life as well. So, there are one or two things you can do to make sure your family is less affected by your problems.
First, you need to get your family on board. This means, when bullying starts affecting your life, share this information with your family. They may not know much about your workplace or the intensity of the bullying but you can reduce problems of miscommunication to a minimum. Do not keep secrets from your family. They need to know what is happening with the other part of your life. To solve miscommunication problems and find support, educating your family is a must.
Thank you for listening.

Answer the following questions while listening to the talk.

1. What are the different forms of workplace bullying? (write one).

2. What is the initial step to stop workplace bullying?

3. What advantages does being ready to recover have? (write one).

4. Why do your colleagues want to put a distance between themselves and you when you are bullied?

5. In case of a workplace bullying, who does the company support?

6. What is the solution to not having any financial pressures?

7. How does a bully harm your ability to find a new job?

8. What is one common mistake that jobseekers make?

9. When bullied, how can you solve miscommunication and find support from your family?

1 comment:

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