The Bully-Free Workplace: A book review by Bob Morris

The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes From Killing Your Organization
Gary Namie and Ruth F. Namie
John Wiley & Sons (2011)

Tolerance of inappropriate behavior condones it.

Over more years than I wish to specify, I have been centrally involved in dozens of different environments and on only two occasions was I the “target” of bullying. (Ruth and Gary Namie prefer “target” to “victim” and I agree with them.) In both situations, I refused to be intimidated because I had learned, years before on an elementary school playground, that bullies are essentially cowards. However, as the Namies so thoroughly explain, bullying in the workplace is a very serious (albeit underestimated) problem. It is also a complicated, generally misunderstood problem. They have devoted their professional careers to doing all they can to help alleviate (if not eliminate) the problem. They and their associates in The Workplace Bullying Institute are pioneers as they sustain their commitment to eliminating the need for the information, insights, and counsel that are provided in this book.

The Namies respond to questions such as these:

What is (and isn’t) workplace bullying?
Based on what is now known, what are the nature and extent of this process?
What is the range of impact on targeted employees?
To what extent can targets be legally protected from bullies?
How can bullying weaken (if not destroy) an organization?
What are the preventable causes of bullying?
What are the essential components of a program to eliminate bullying?
In that program, what should be HR’s new role?
Which preliminary steps should be taken to prevent and correct workplace bullying?
To what extent can bullies be identified during the interview process?
What is necessary to sustain a bully-free culture?

The Namies have devised “The Namie Blueprint to Prevent and Correct Workplace Bullying” and much of what it involves is thoroughly explained in the book. They cordially invite their readers to check out the wealth of resources at two websites, The Work Doctor and Workplace Bullying Institute.

As a result of reading this book, I am even more convinced now than ever before that, starting with its C-level executives (or their equivalent), every organization must establish and then strictly enforce (at all levels and in all areas) zero tolerance of bullying and other forms of incivility.  What may be technically legal or is at least not illegal may nonetheless be inappropriate and thus impermissible. Period. Also, I am even more convinced that pathological bullies have problems that are far more serious than not being able to “get along” with others home as well as at work. They need professional help, help that few (if any) of their associates are qualified to provide. Finally, if and when bullying occurs, I am convinced that it must be addressed immediately and resolved in a timely manner. To tolerate it is to condone it.


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