Seeking civility: How leaders, managers & HR can create a workplace free of bullying

Review by Dr Chris Taua of Pumahara Consultants – Personal and Professional Development Specialists

Mattice, C. (2016). Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.

This is a short, easy-to-read, practical book that focusses on the value of civil relationships at work in order to mitigate bullying in the workplace.

The book is informally divided into two parts, beginning with a frank discussion on what bullying in the workplace might look like. I liked how it didn’t get into blame towards the bully but instead sought to give some understanding as to why bullying might occur from the perspectives of the bully, the victim and the organisational culture. The few statistics cited are from the United States so not wholly generalisable; however, the statistics themselves offer only minimal context compared with the narrative describing what bullying is and why it might happen so are not too significant.

The second part of the book gets into the nitty gritty, offering 10 steps towards encouraging civil behaviour as an essential platform for a mentally safe work culture. One resounding point early on in this section impressed me from a mental health perspective, which was to avoid telling employees not to bully. Instead, they should be guided around how to behave towards each other: ”If you tell them, ‘Don’t bully’, you’ve left them with nothing to accomplish other than to not do something. Instead, tell them ‘Do be respectful to each other’, as this provides a goal to achieve.”. I appreciated the positive stance on encouraging behaviour change  and the book contains many of these suggestions.

This book provides many practical ideas and offers useful assessment and response templates, including a sample Healthy Workplace Policy that could be adjusted to one’s local workplace setting. It is easily generalisable to all workplace contexts and presents a strengths-based approach in tackling an all-too-common workplace issue that impacts the mental health and wellbeing of many employees.

The Mental Health Foundation’s Information Service brings you reviews this Pink Shirt Day on books with bullying prevention themes.

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“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”