The Great Debate UK

Time to turn our attention to the needs of the bully?


Libby Payne- Libby Payne is an executive committee member of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association and clinical director of CiC.  She has more than 20 years experience in the provision of workplace counselling and psychological support, specialising in the management of crisis interventions and complex personnel issues within organisations. The opinions expressed are her own. -

Bullying is a fact of life in many organisations, regardless of size or industry sector. And in recent days – for the right or the wrong reasons – the subject of workplace bullying has been thrust into the media and public spotlight. But beyond the headlines, bullying is a problem that organisations need to address and do so in a way that focuses on a positive solution, not a public battle to attribute blame.

To achieve this, greater consideration needs to be given to the bullies themselves. All too often they are positioned as the ‘evil perpetrators, reeking fear and havoc on their team or department without a thought or care for the impact they’re having on their victims’ personal or professional lives.

In most cases of workplace bullying, though, the opposite is true. The bully is often a victim of his or her unmanageable stress and pressure that causes their behaviour to cross the line. Such realisation doesn’t make their behaviour right, tolerable or acceptable, but it does start to offer some explanation for the circumstances victims find themselves in.