Have you ever gossiped about someone at work with other colleagues or blamed one of your colleagues for new workplace rules that many see as oppressive? If you have, then you may have committed an act of lateral violence.
What is Lateral Violence?
The term “lateral violence” may be new to many people, but the concept isn’t. Lateral violence is defined as taking out feelings of anger or frustration out on our peers at work when oppressed in the workplace instead of addressing the problems with the oppressors.
Examples of lateral violence includes ostracizing a colleague, gossiping about them with others, insulting them whether verbally or non-verbally, sabotaging someone’s work or breaking confidences. Bullying is also a common form of lateral violence.
Like bullying, lateral violence is often used to dominate someone, manipulate or diminish others. In the workplace, it can be used to make oneself seem superior to another colleague or someone may use it to try to move ahead of someone seen as competition for promotions at work.
The Effects of Lateral Violence
While many of these behaviors may seem harmless, such as gossiping or non-verbal insults, they do have consequences, especially for the victim of this behavior. The victim will often feel degraded, demoralized and it can affect their self-esteem. Although lateral violence can sometimes be done unintentionally, it can have devastating effects on the person being harassed.
This behavior can undermine the camaraderie at work because it can create a hostile work environment. The morale of the entire workplace can be effected, not just that of the person being bullied. Low morale can lead to people being unproductive, disliking their jobs and ultimately quitting or being fired for poor performance on the job.
How to Stop Lateral Violence
More companies are being made aware of lateral violence and the effects it can have on their staff, as well as the overall performances of employees. Businesses are taking this problem seriously and people who are caught engaging in acts of lateral violence could find themselves being reprimanded or dismissed from their positions.
Awareness of the problem is the first step in resolving it and, like sexual harassment, lateral violence should be discussed with employees so that they are aware of what it is and how to report it if they are victims of it or see it happening. Preventing lateral violence will help create a more harmonious atmosphere on the job.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.