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I recall a familiar childhood nursey rhyme that says:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me”.  It was recited by parents and teachers urging children to ignore name-calling from playground bullies. In hindsight this was sound advice then for children on the playground to follow. But for life as an adult and in the workplace, it’s a totally different story.

The workplace must be free from bullying and any other forms of harassment. Employees must immediately report instances of this to their supervisors, and like the intent of the nursery rhyme, without retaliating against the accused. Supervisors must take all accusations seriously, investigate, and if bullying is determined, recommend appropriate disciplinary action, including discharge of the accused. Employers must have written policies in place stating there will be zero tolerance for workplace bullying and related behavior, encourage employees to come forward with their charges, and support supervisors in their investigations

Yes, words are harmful. It’s time to clean up the playgrounds and workplaces.


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