Sunday, July 25, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Road to Respect: Path to Profit

Harassment and hostility are not new concepts in the business world, nor are they legal. Businesses are required by law to develop, implement and effectively manage these behaviors, and unfortunately many do so only because the law says they have to - and not because they truly believe in the power of a respectful, positive workplace. The terms workplace bullying, abusive management and toxic bosses are relatively newer concepts in business rhetoric – and because employers are not required to address them - many don’t. What these organizations do not understand is that, aside from being just a plain ol’ sound business decision, a respectful culture in the workplace can reap many benefits. Organizations focused on a respectful culture enjoy better quality work, increased production, happier (and returning) customers, superior ability to meet organizational goals, increased learning and collaboration, better decision-making… the list goes on and on.

Road to Respect, Path to Profit – How to Become an Employer of Choice by Building a Respectful Workplace Culture by Erica Pinsky, provides solid advice for business owners, managers, decision-makers, organizational development and human resource professionals, and anyone else interested in building a respectful workplace.

Many will tell you the answer is a zero tolerance corporate policy, but as Pinsky points out, this is not the answer. Policies are only worth the paper they are printed on (about 3 cents). A respectful workplace culture is a road “paved” over time with trust and support; and Pinsky’s book provides the tools you need to arrive at your destination.

Continue reading the book review at by clicking here.
Purchase the book by visiting here.

A Few Notes on Violent Behavior

This weekend I was working on a training for dealing with bullying students, and was asked that part of the training include information about how to monitor the bully's communication in order to predict if it will turn violent.

I was shocked to find there isn't much "out there" on the internet about the topic of nonverbal communication as a predictor of violence, so thought I'd attempt to rectify that with my own blog post about it.

Violent behavior occurs with the intersection of four factors:

Personality: The individual’s interpersonal functioning, or the way the student views the world, will determine if violence is the outcome of a stressful situation. Violent-prone individuals subscribe to control and blame instead of understanding and taking responsibility. Right and wrong is determined by what they can get away with instead of what makes them feel guilty. Cultural background and past experiences have led to an acceptability of violence.

Stress: Because violent-prone idividuals do not understand their misfortunes or frustrations, and instead passionately blame others, they are struck by an overwhelming sense of desparation and increasing sense of powerlessness. Violence is a way to get back power.

Setting: Effective violence prevention depends on the ability of the setting to recognize warning signs and mediate the effect of stress on individuals. In other words, violence cannot occur unless it is allowed to occur. This training is a step towards adjusting the setting.

Lacking communication skills: Violence is often a result of an inability to express oneself successfully. When a person feels like they cannot get their point across, or they are not being understood, they become frustrated and lash out in order to gain control of the situation.

Predicting Violent Behavior with Nonverbal Cues

60-90% of our communication is nonverbal, and most of the time we pay attention to it subconsciously. While it is impossible to predict with absolute certainty when someone will become violent, you can learn a lot from a person’s body language if you consciously pay close attention.

Nonverbal cues that indicate someone may become violent in the next few minutes include:
• Never ceasing eye contact; staring, never looking away or at another part of your body

• Clenched teeth, narrowing of eyes, and tense lips

• Arms crossed on the chest, closed fists, or arms held back slightly as if they are winding up for a swing. Also, hands held tightly against the chest could indicate defensiveness or holding a weapon.

• A shifting of weight to the back leg like a fighter ready to take a swing

• Inability to sit down, appearing anxious

• Rapid breathing and a loud, raised voice

Violence may also occur when the individual is told “no”, is given orders instead of options, or feels like he or she is not being understood. Knowing this, it is important to construct your own messages as collaborative, positive and opportunistic, rather than negative and limiting.

Preventing Violence at Work

In order to ensure an employee never turns violent, the organization must take steps to keep aggression to a minimum. Everyone should be trained and active in recognizing warning signs, and procedures must be in place to address those signs when discovered. One way to do this is to form a crisis prevention team of organizational leaders who will work with an employee who seems violent-prone. The team may be responsible for mediation, communication skills coaching, or working with the employee to relieve stress somehow. The team could also construct an action plan for building a positive culture, facilitate the construction of effective problem solving at work, introduce training programs to the workplace, and the like.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Earn CEU's at our upcoming workshop "Build & sustain a Healthy Workplace: Understand and Eradicate Bullying at Work"

Build & Sustain a Healthy Workplace: Understand and Eradicate Bullying at Work

Research indicates 70% of the workforce is bullied at some point in their life, and that at any given time, 25% of the workforce is being bullied. Annually, one bully could cost an organization a minimum of $100,000 per year.

The Division of Extended Learning is excited to partner with subject-matter expert Catherine Mattice from Civility Partners, LLC to offer a ground-breaking half-day seminar where participants will gain innovative business management training in the hot new topic of workplace bullying. The seminar will clarify workplace bullying, provide an update on the laws in motion to end it, provide tools for eradicating it from the workplace, and everything you need to sustain a healthy workplace culture.

August 18, 2010
8:30 am - 11:30 am
National University, La Mesa Campus
San Diego, CA

Price: $199

Register by calling: 1-800-NAT-UNIV ext. 8600

Watch our 3 1/2 minute video about workplace bullying here.
Who should attend:
Human resources, workplace learning and performance professionals, business owners, conflict resolution specialists, professional mediators, employee assistance professionals, managers, team leaders, supervisors, coaches, business management consultants, health and wellness specialists, and targets of bullying.

This course has been approved for CEU's from:
•IACET Continuing Education Units
•International Society for Performance Improvement's CPT recertification points
•HR Certification Institute's recertification credit
•Employee Assistance Certification Commission's PDHs
After successful completion participants will gain:
•Comprehensive knowledge in the system of bullying and why it happens at work
•Knowledge in determining the cost of bullying in your organization
•Interpersonal communication and conflict management skills for battling the bully
•Management tools for immediate corrective action and handling grievances
•Techniques for sustainable healthy change and positive employee performance

Takeaways: Template corporate policy, culture assessment and cost of bullying worksheets, and case studies.

Register by calling: 1-800-NAT-UNIV ext. 8600

eBossWatch Launches National Sexual Harassment Registry

Workplace initiative modeled after FBI's National Sex Offender Registry

LAS VEGAS, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- eBossWatch, the leading career resource that enables people to anonymously rate their current or former bosses, today announced the launch of the first ever National Sexual Harassment Registry.

The National Sexual Harassment Registry is a searchable database of people who have been formally and publicly accused of sexual harassment by their subordinates or coworkers. The Registry is designed to be a resource to help job seekers better evaluate potential employers and to help organizations better evaluate job candidates.

"The eBossWatch National Sexual Harassment Registry sends a strong message to those intending to sexually harass their employees or coworkers that they will be publicly held accountable and will suffer serious consequences for their abusive actions," said Asher Adelman, founder of eBossWatch. "Now anyone will be able to search our national database and will instantly know if their potential boss or job candidate has been the subject of a sexual harassment complaint."

Inspired by the FBI's National Sex Offender Registry, which tracks and provides information about registered sex offenders, the eBossWatch National Sexual Harassment Registry will enable people to conduct searches free of charge to obtain information about people who have been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Caren Goldberg, Ph.D., a management professor at American University whose primary research interests are in sexual harassment, said, "If used judiciously, the Registry has the potential to help organizations minimize the likelihood of hiring a known harasser and to help applicants minimize the likelihood of taking a job at an organization where they wouldn't fit."

The National Sexual Harassment Registry is located at

About eBossWatch
Founded in 2007, eBossWatch is a popular career resource that helps people evaluate potential employers and avoid toxic workplaces. eBossWatch enables people to anonymously rate their bosses in a professional and non-libelous manner. eBossWatch is also the publisher of the America's Worst Bosses list and a news site that highlights and exposes bad bosses.

eBossWatch has been featured or mentioned extensively in the media, including on, Fox News,,, AOL,, New York Post,, Chicago Tribune, Orange County Register, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Toronto Globe.

For more information, go to or email us at

SOURCE eBossWatch

Read the original press release on PR Newswire here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Do bullies really mean it?

That’s a great question and one that came up over and over at the International Association for Workplace Bullying & Harassment conference. Unfortunately we don’t have an answer, but I will weigh in on it here and let you make your own decision.
While there is no research to say either way (and I say that after conferring with the two foremost researchers in the academic “bullying field”), it seems pretty clear that for human resources professionals, intent does matter. Teresa A. Daniel, who seems to be the resident expert on workplace bullying for the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), discusses this in her article and in her book, Stop Bullying at Work (SHRM Press, 2009). She claims the difference between a bully and a tough boss is in fact intent. According to Dr. Daniel, although their behaviors may be similar, bullies misuse power and focus on personal interests while tough bosses are objective and have self-control.

The Healthy Workplace Bill, a Bill that aims to make equal-opportunity bullying illegal, and has been introduced in 17 states but not yet passed in any of them, defines abusive conduct (i.e., bullying) as “conduct, with malice… that a reasonable person would find to be hostile, (and) offensive.” The word “malice” indicates intent. This means that one would have to prove the bully meant to do it in order to obtain legal recourse.

On the flip side, I (and many of my colleagues) have had conversations with bullies who claimed they had no idea that their behavior was so harmful. One in particular said that he knew he was hurting people’s feelings – that much he could tell. But he simply did not have the communication tools to change, and he begged me to help him improve. Is that malicious behavior? I’m thinking no.

Unfortunately, however, one is left to question the reliability of these bullies. How do we really know they are not lying in the face of a consultant, who they know was hired by management? Are they really going to say, “Ha! I did mean to do it and it felt great when I made Sue cry!” Probably not.

This leaves us back at square one. Do bullies really mean it?

Although I am unable to provide a real answer to this question, I will say this. Whether bullies mean to do it or not, their behavior is harmful to targets, witnesses, and the organization. While I believe some bullies do mean it and some do not, I ultimately don’t believe the issue of intent really matters at all. If an organization has rules and a culture in place to enforce a positive and collaborative work environment, bullies will have no choice but to change their behavior. End of story. If they don’t, they will be pushed out of the organization due to inability to meet performance goals. And this is the case whether they intend to bully or not.

We can help you develop a positive workplace where bullying would not be allowed to thrive. Contact us for a complimentary consultation at catherine (at) civilitypartners (dot) com.