Click Here North Star Writers Group
Syndicated Content.
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Feature Page
David J. Pollay - The Happiness Answer
Cindy Droog - The Working Mom
The Laughing Chef
Mike Ball - What I've Learned So Far
Bob Batz - Senior Moments
D.F. Krause - Business Ridiculous
D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive

November 8, 2006

Workplace Bullies, Workplace Wimps


Biff Tannen had a pointed question for George McFly:


“Where’s my reports?”


OK. Not a sound grammatical question. But a question nonetheless, and the last thing George wanted was more noogies.


“Well, you know, I haven’t finished those up yet, but I figured since they weren’t due until Monday . . .”


Not the right answer!


“Hello! Is anybody home, huh? Think, McFly! Think! I gotta have time to get ’em retyped! Can you imagine what would happen if I turned in my reports in your handwriting? I’d get fired! You wouldn’t want that to happen, would ya?”


George thinks about that one for a second.


“Would ya?”


George is a victim of workplace bullying. Of course, George is a complete wimp, so this is hardly a shocking development. But who would have thought in 1985, when Back to the Future was released, that 21 years later we would be treated to a study – yes , an actual study – of the phenomenon of workplace bullying?


Spare us no scholarship, Arizona State University! What have you discovered?


“Many Americans are familiar with sexual and racial harassment, but not generalized workplace bullying,” said study team member Sarah Tracy. She explains that bullying can come in the form of “screaming, cursing, spreading vicious rumors, destroying the target’s property or work product, excessive criticism and sometimes hitting, slapping and shoving” and that subtle behaviors, such as silent treatment, disregard of requests and exclusion from meetings, count as bullying.


This required a study? So what do the studious Sun Devils suggest we do about workplace bullying?


“An important first step of changing workplace bullying, is helping people to understand that it's more than just kid stuff,” Tracy told LiveScience. So, like, when someone hacks into your computer, opens up your reports and changes all references to the boss to The Dark Lord of the Netherworld, we need to make people understand that this is really really serious and frowned upon?


OK. Good chat starter for the next shift meeting.


The problem, apparently, is that the bully victims don’t like to talk about their ordeal. Instead, LiveScience reports, they “whisper their horrid experiences to close friends rather than higher-ups.”


I suppose you can’t blame them. Would you want to tell the boss that you’re a complete wimp who lets Biff push you around and make you write his reports? Not only that, but you need to get them done early so he can get them retyped!


I don’t want bullies working for me, except in collections. But I want wimps even less. So how can I, a caring, conscientious CEO, address the serious problem of workplace bullying within my own company? How can I be sure that everyone can work in a comfortable, safe environment in which no one can be bullied, slapped, shoved or noogied?


George McFly didn’t get Biff off his case until he punched him out at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance (which actually happened 30 years before the dialogue presented above, thus altering the space/time continuum . . . this gets complicated), so I think, the next time a wimp comes to me to complain about a bully, I will just tell the wimp to clock the jerk.


It worked for George McFly, and he got the girl. Biff ended up waxing George’s car. In the end, George seemed to understand that you can’t shake off a bully unless you’re willing to stand up to him – and not expect anyone else to fight your battles for you.


Then again, that was just a movie, which is almost as far removed from real life as a university that conducts studies to find out things we already know.


To offer feedback on this column, click here.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column # DFK53.  Request permission to publish here.