By Catherine Mattice

Workplace bullying is a hot new topic in the business world. Although academic research spans over 25 years, and laws against workplace bullying are prudent in several other countries, the United States has only recently begun to pay attention. The popularity of the topic and the increasing interest of employers to deal with it effectively put EAPs in a unique position. As a liaison between employees and their employers, an EAP can offer employees the guidance they need to navigate through their sticky situation, and provide management with the direction they need to effectively end it.

What can an EAP do?

There are numerous strategies that EA professionals can use in the workplace. A few of them appear below:

* Coach bullies – Although the media often paints bullies as blood-sucking psychopaths out for blood, most bullies have no idea why their behavior is so hurtful. When I coach bullies, they often tell me they understand that people are hurt, but they don’t understand what it is about their communication that is so terrible. EA professionals can help them gain empathy, emotional intelligence, and effective communication skills.

* Avoid traditional conflict management programs – The jury is still out on the best solutions to end bullying in the workplace, but there seems to be one area in which researchers agree: traditional conflict resolution strategies are probably not the answer. That’s because bullying creates a severe power imbalance that pushes targets into a state of helplessness not much different than that of a battered wife, and it is this power imbalance that makes traditional conflict management the wrong solution.

Catherine Mattice is the President of Civility Partners, a consulting firm specializing in ending workplace bullying and replacing it with positivity. She may be contacted at Catherine@CivilityPartners.com.  To find out more, visit www.civilitypartners.com  and www.noworkplacebullies.com.  The complete version of this article, including additional strategies — and a corresponding Brown Bagger training for employees and employers – will appear in the June issue of Employee Assistance Report. To find out more, check out the EARN link at www.impact-publications.com

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