ISU Study Finds Bullied Victims Receive Bad Advice

May 22, 2017

A new study from Iowa State University finds that people who are the victims of workplace bullying often receive unhelpful advice about how to deal with the harassment.

ISU communication studies researcher Stacy Tye-Williams found the most frequent piece of advice victims receive from family and friends is to quit their jobs, which is financially impractical. People were also often counseled to ignore or to stand up to the bully. 

Tye-Williams says part of the reason the advice is unhelpful is that there aren’t many examples of people successfully dealing with harassment at work. So if someone talks to you about being bullied, instead of offering advice, it’s better just to listen. 

"Give them that space that could allow them to imagine more creative or alternative approaches to handling bullying," she says. "Allow them a space to vent their frustration to talk about these painful experiences without judgment." 

Tye-Williams says people sometimes don’t realize adults can also be bullies, which is problematic as these behaviors have profound effects on individuals and the workplace.  

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research.