Stand Up Against Bullying: A blog to help stop workplace bullying

Supportive Allies: What are they and why are they important in bully culture?

Original Publication Date:  June 20, 2022

Bully culture is complex, and every worker is involved including bystanders and witnesses. No matter what they think, they are not neutral. Bystanders make choices every day to be part of the problem or the solution. Many times, bystanders just do not know what to do or they fail to act out of their own fear of the workplace bully. But bystanders can choose to be a supportive ally for the target, but what does this really mean?

Supportive allies are workers who acknowledge that workplace bullying is happening and they willing to show support for the target. A supportive ally should be trustworthy. They should believe the target and be willing to work with the target to develop interventions to reduce the trauma from bully culture. They can do this openly or behind the scenes. Ideally, the target wants supportive allies who can assist them openly and at work.

Supportive allies can provide support during times of crisis. For example, a supportive ally can be a great sounding board for a target, and they can listen. A supportive ally can be a go-to person for a target when the bullying becomes too much. This is extremely important in bully culture. 

Supportive allies can work with targets to develop interventions to reduce the bullying during high-risk times. For example, a supportive ally, might intervene when the bully is yelling a target in meetings. This could mean that the supportive ally directly confronts the bully, or it can be more subtle. If a bully is yelling at the target, a supportive ally might get up and throw something away, cough, or leave the meeting. Even something as small as a cough, can disrupt and distract the bully. This helps the target and can reduce the amount of bullying experienced. 

Supportive allies are important for targets, but they are also vital in stopping bully culture. Supportive allies can also influence and hold a bully more accountable. Bullies will soon learn that they are not supported and less influential in controlling the culture. This is key in stop

If you are in a bully culture and are interested in being a supportive ally,  I recommend that you go talk to the target. Let them know you are aware of the bullying and that you want to help and earn their trust so you can work with them to reduce the trauma of workplace bullying.

Call to Action:
Go talk to the target and be a supportive ally today.