How to Intervene When You Witness Workplace Aggression

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Given the many impacts of workplace aggression, organizations are exploring a number of prevention initiatives. One increasingly popular initiative, bystander intervention, involves training people who witness acts of aggression to intervene. Although bystanders can play a pivotal role in determining outcomes of workplace aggression, many individuals who speak out against perpetrators of aggression experience backlash. This is because when a bystander steps in, it challenges the perpetrator’s perception of themselves as a good person and colleague, triggering a defensive response. Therefore, the way that bystanders intervene matters. It’s not enough to just tell people to intervene; we need to tell them how to do so in a way that minimizes unintended backlash effects.

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