Posted on November 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Comcare’s CEO recently interviewed Dr Richard Pimental, a world leader on workplace harm anddisability and co-initiator of the ‘Americans with Disability Act’ to get his reactions as to whatneeds to be done at federal workplaces to tackle the problem of workplace bullying.

To view the clip with (CC captioning) click on the link: and media/in conversation with richard pimentel -short clip/ nocache

A transcript of the video interview is detailed below:

Paul O’Connor (POC): Dr Richard Pimentel, welcome to Australia and thanks for talking toComcare about 2015.

POC: Richard, you’ve talked about workplace bullying with us during your time at Comcare, visiting with our people and visiting with members of the Comcare community. How bad is this problem and what can we do to tackle the big problem of workplace bullying?

RP: It’s becoming more and more a serious problem. It’s the, it’s the new civil rights, youknow, protection. Bullies destroy the best employees you have in the workplace. Bullies targetpeople who don’t have the skills – who have skills that they don’t have. So they’re going totarget the competent ones, and they’re going to make you think they’re incompetent so they candestroy them. What we need to do, well you could say well let’s make a law against it, let’s put them in jail, let’s fine the employer, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Well that only works after the damage has been done.

What every company needs to do is have a meeting with every single one of their employees and explain what workplace bullying really is. How the bully does it. How the bully recruits other people to help them do it. What lies the bully tells to their own supervisors to make it justifiable to hurt this person. How the bully makes the person that they’re bullying believe it’s not happening, or even worse, that it’s their fault. Bullies in the workplace are cockroaches, and the way you get rid of a cockroach is to turn on the light. If we shine a light on what these bullies do and then we empower everyone in the workplace. Ifyou’re being bullied, it’s not your imagination, it’s really happening. If a bully asks you to help them bully someone – and they do – don’t do it. If you’re observing someone bully but you don’t want to say anything because you’re afraid you’ll be the next one – say something. Tell the person being bullied that it’s really happening to them, it’s not their imagination. And if we all take responsibility – not just to not bully – but if we take responsibility to have a bully-free environment and top management supports your actions in this, you can stop bullyingovernight. You really can. If the people feel – if they’re knowledgeable enough to recognise itwhen they see it, and they feel empowered enough to do something about it when they know about it.

POC: So we need to create an environment where it’s safe for people to speak up and stop the bully?

RP: Absolutely. Because most people who don’t say anything are afraid that they won’t bebelieved, and that the bully will find out, and that they will be the next person being bullied, and it becomes a terrible cycle. But you can stop it now by just being open, explaining the psychological dynamics and the management dynamics of bullying. Here’s something you didn’tknow about bullies – bullies in the workplace are exactly like bullies in school. They’re cowards.All bullies are cowards. And if you take all their armament away from them, they don’t haveenough nerve to do it alone. Take – take everyone away from them, and the average bully will not have enough nerve to do anything at all to anyone.

POC: What can senior leaders be doing to – often they’re blind – so how can they create the right environment and what could they be doing by their own actions to stamp this out?

RP: Strong statement that it will not be tolerated. Training people so they really know what it looks like. Bullying is not throwing a pastry at someone when they come in late to a meeting.Bullying is telling them the meeting is at 9 o’clock when it’s really at 8 o’clock and thenchastising them for being an hour late. Bullying can be very subtle. And so what senior management needs to do – bullies tend to go to senior and middle management to say ‘Well, this person’s very weak, you know, we’ve got to get them out of here, and you know…’ And what the management has to do is say, ‘Is this really true? Or am I being set up to be someonehelping a bully?’ And so you have to say, what is really, what is really happening here.

And what senior management has to do is if someone comes in and says ‘I’m being bullied’,please take it seriously. If a co-worker comes in and says, ‘This person is bullying this person’,take it seriously. Find out the facts. If you think you’re being bullied, keep a diary. Everythingthat happens, everything that’s said. Keep a diary so you have something to say. Some of this bullying can be very very subtle, and very hard to prove. The worst bullies are the ones who do it so cleverly that they almost leave no trail at all. That’s why to make it a crime doesn’t work.Because the only people who get caught there are doing – they’re doing blatant things physicallyand loudly and that. The danger is bullies are right under the radar.

POC: So we have to, as senior leaders, encourage people to speak up and to have theconversation and confront what’s really happening at the workplace?

RP: Absolutely. And train them so that they – just like you train someone to recognise a safety hazard – you train someone to recognise bullying when it’s happening.

POC: Dr Richard Pimentel, thanks for coming to Australia, thanks for sharing your experience, and thanks for your service to communities around the world to make a real difference.

RP: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

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