Dental Hypotheses

: 2015  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 72--73

Workplace bullying: Beware!

Darshana Bennadi1, Vinayak Konekeri2,  
1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sree Siddhartha Dental College and Hospital, Tumkur, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Navodaya Dental College and Hospital, Raichur, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Darshana Bennadi
Sree Siddhartha Dental College and Hospital, Agalkote, Tumkur - 572 107, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Bennadi D, Konekeri V. Workplace bullying: Beware!.Dent Hypotheses 2015;6:72-73

How to cite this URL:
Bennadi D, Konekeri V. Workplace bullying: Beware!. Dent Hypotheses [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jun 27 ];6:72-73
Available from:

Full Text


Bullying can occur at every workplace, even in clinics and hospitals; it tends to be more active in workplaces that have high levels of competition and bureaucracy. Dentistry, like medicine, is a traditional, science-based, highly regulated health care profession that serves increasingly sophisticated and demanding clients. Dentists work with many other staff, so the chances of bullying are common; this will have impact on quality of care and on patient treatment.

Bullying is defined as "a persistent behavior against an individual that is intimidating, degrading, offensive or malicious and undermines the confidence and self-esteem of the recipient." [1] Bullying is characterized by repetition (it occurs regularly), duration (it is enduring), escalation (there is increasing aggression), power disparity (the target lacks the power to successfully defend him/herself), and attributed intent. [2]

The five categories of bullying behavior: [2],[3]

Threat to professional status (e.g., belittling their opinion).Threat to personal standing (e.g., insults).Isolation (e.g., withholding of information).Overwork (e.g., impossible deadlines).Destabilization (e.g., removal of responsibility).

Common types of workplace bullying are: [2],[4]

Constant Critic: This type of bully indulges in frequent harassment or badgering in private, and the target begins to believe that they are incompetent.Gatekeeper: This manager is very insecure and deliberately withholds resources or needed funds so that the involved person will be unsuccessful at their job.Screaming Mimis: They not only abuse individuals, but they also deter others from trying to intercede because of the fear of getting an earful of their own.Two-headed Snake: Known as the manager who acts like a friend to your face and works behind your back to get rid of you.

Symptoms of workplace bullying

Commonly, victims of workplace bullying experience adverse occupational health outcomes such as fear, anger, anxiety, humiliation, confusion; lower levels of job satisfaction; a higher propensity to leave; and higher levels of anxiety and depression. [5]

Psychiatrist Carroll Brodsky advises on the three levels of workplace bullying: [6],[7]

The victim is able to remove him/herself from early bullying by resisting and is often able to return to the original job or find a new job.The victim has suffered mentally or physically, and finds it difficult to return to work.At this point the harassment of the victim has become so severe that he/she is unable to return to his/her job.

There are studies that have reported workplace bullying among nurses, physicians, junior medical doctors and postgraduate students. [1],[5],[8],[9] As yet there may have been a few reports regarding workplace bullying in the dental field. It is impossible to prevent bullying completely, but it can be actively discouraged through conflict management, organizational policies, and education. There should be a disciplinary committee so that victims know whom to contact in case of such problems. It would be advisable to have a written protocol outlining action points that can be followed to report and remediate issues. The members of the committee should be trained in how to identify bullying among employees and how to handle grievances successfully as well as learn to eliminating bullying from their own behavior. [2],[5],[7] Word choice, tone of voice, and body language are vital components to building a civil workplace. Good role modeling, improved interaction, and regular feedback from working staff will help to identify and curb the problem and foster a healthy, positive workplace environment.


1Quine L. Workplace bullying in junior doctors: Questionnaire survey. BMJ 2002;324:878-9.
2Rayner C, Hoel H. A summary review of literature relating to workplace bullying. J Community Appl Soc Psychol 1997;7:181-91.
3Quine L. Workplace bullying in NHS community trust: Staff questionnaire survey. BMJ 1999;318:228-32.
4Stancavage J. Workplace bullies are costly. West J Nurs Res 2008:910-31.
5Husaain SS, Rahim R. Bullying of postgraduate medical trainees in tertiary care hospitals. J Postgrad Med Inst 2014;28:251-6.
6Osif BA. Workplace bullying. Library Leadership & Management 2010;24:206-12.
7Essen SD, Esquivel C, Jha P. Workplace bullying: An emergent issue. Oral Health Dent Manag 2014;13:835-41.
8Leape LL, Shore MF, Dienstag JL, Mayer RJ, Edgman-Levitan S, Meyer GS, et al. Perspective: A culture of respect, part 1: The nature and causes of disrespectful behavior by physicians. Acad Med 2012;87:845-52.
9Steadman L, Quine L, Jack K, Felix DH, Waumsley J. Experience of workplace bullying behaviours in postgraduate hospital dentists: Questionnaire survey. Br Dent J 2009;207:379-80.