After the Webinar: Protecting Interpersonal Work Relationships. Q&A with Tracy Ertl

Webinar presenter Tracy Ertl answered a number of your questions after her presentation,  Protecting Interpersonal Work Relationships: Lessons for Criminal Justice Professionals. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Is bullying different from employee hazing or harassment? Or are these things basically synonyms?

Tracy Ertl: I would say that they’re synonyms, but we need to be a more specific reference to bullying when we look at the policies that are created. If you only refer to hazing or harassment, and you don’t have the bullying terminology within your policy, it’s considered not to be strong enough within the current environment. So, they can be considered, they are synonymous, and yet bullying is more specific.


Audience Question: Continuing on that clarification, kind of series of questions here. Maureen was wanting to know; can the silent treatment be considered a part of bullying or a tactic in bullying? 

Tracy Ertl: Yes. Yes, it can. So, when we talk about verbal, when we talk about the category of verbal bullying, non-verbal is part of that. And it can be just as damaging.


Audience Question: Can making fun of or deliberately not learning how to pronounce someone’s name be bullying. 

Tracy Ertl: I think it can be destructive. And so, let’s say I’ll try to answer it as directly as I can. Let’s say the first couple of encounters that a co-worker has with somebody, they mispronounce the name. They say it is wrong, and the receiver corrects them, but the deliverer continues. The deliverer continues to say their name wrong then that would be categorized as potentially verbal bullying, absolutely.


Audience Question: Can gaslighting be considered a form of bullying? 

Tracy Ertl: Yes, and gaslighting is actually can be very dangerous. When we talked about the costs of the lack of protecting interpersonal relationships, we talked about the $200 billion loss per year, but then we also discussed the fact that bullying can kill. Gaslighting is an escalation, can be an escalation within bullying. And people who are on the receiving end of that gaslighting can be tormented to the point that it erodes them to the point where we actually see suicides sometimes from that behavior. So absolutely yes.


Audience Question: So then if that’s the case, so if so, how can this be handled within the culture of your organization that regularly uses this tactic? It’s his follow-up. 

Tracy Ertl: That’s difficult to answer in such a short segment. Could you e-mail me? The reason why I’m asking you to e-mail me is so that I can give your question the amount of time that it deserves. I’d like to be able to e-mail you in more depth. But to give just a short, immediate answer, it’s not enough. But I’ll go into more detail with you when you e-mail me. When we look at gaslighting, if it’s pervasive within an organization, we have to take immediate action because it’s dangerous to the culture, it’s dangerous to the interpersonal relationships, and it’s just dangerous to individuals. So, it needs to be reported. One of the quickest ways that an organization or workplace can send a message is by putting together an anti-bullying policy. And if any of our attendees today are interested in that, I am more than happy to help you by sending some examples of policies that other people have done. But sometimes you can send an immediate message by putting out a new policy, and then following up with education on it. But that is something, when we have that, when it’s that pervasive, then it’s not going to get better on its own. Again, problems don’t age well. But Mark, I hope that you’ll e-mail me so that I can find out a little bit more about what’s happening and be of more specific help to you.


Audience Question: Can a person be more than one type of bully because you talked about the eight categories? Can they be more than one type of bully? 

Tracy Ertl: Yes, they can. So, and if you’re interested in citing that. Everything within the webinar is properly cited. So, if you want more specifics again, you can e-mail me. But yes, you can be exhibiting in more than one category. In fact, oftentimes we’ll see 2 or 3 different categories.


Audience Question: What do you recommend for when management is aware the bullying is going on? Yet they don’t address the individuals who are perpetrating behavior because they are such good performers. 

Tracy Ertl: I hope you e-mail me. So, my follow-up question would be are they sending out blanket policy and then not communicating or talking with individuals because I see that quite often especially within public safety environments and it doesn’t usually work to just send out blanket policy. You want to send out the anti-bullying policy but then you still have to work individually. So, to answer your question, when we have that kind of circumstance, first of all, you need to document. It’s very important to document. So, I would recommend that you start with, if you have already verbally gone in and seen a supervisor or manager and nothing’s happened, I would send an e-mail, but you write it like you would a business letter. It isn’t, it wouldn’t be an e-mail where you’re ranting about what’s happening. I want you to write it in such a way that you’re documenting what? You’re seeing what you’re hearing and what’s happening. And then you end your e-mail with a call to action asking for some type of follow-up, asking for a meeting. And usually, you’ll get the attention of management or leadership. When you start to write things and document, I would start with that.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Protecting Interpersonal Work Relationships: Lessons for Criminal Justice Professionals.  



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