Workplace Bullying and Workplace Conflict: The Difference Matters!

Workplace Bullying and Workplace Conflict: The Difference Matters!

This article highlights the significance of recognizing the difference between bullying and conflict, as each calls for a distinct course of action. If we can get this right, we can resolve millions of cases yearly! We can prevent it more efficiently, intervene more effectively, and expedite the restoration, repair, and recovery due to the validation and understanding this will bring.


  1. Conflict is a natural part of human relationships and can arise when two equal individuals have differing viewpoints or disagreements.
  2. In conflicts, both parties typically want to resolve the issue and improve the relationship. They don’t intend to harm each other and usually work towards a healthy resolution.
  3. Conflict can sometimes be beneficial as it allows one to address issues and improve relationships.


  1. Bullying occurs when someone uses negative behavior to exert power and control over another person. Regardless of whether the harmful actions are intentional or not, they still cause harm to the targeted individuals. The power dynamic in bullying is unequal, which may be due to personalities, seniority, popularity, or social power. In cases of adult bullying, the intent is to remove power from the targeted person or persons.
  2. Bullying behavior is repeated over time (average of three months or more), causing emotional or physical damage to the target. The cumulative effect of numerous insults causes the injury.
  3. Bullying, or abuse, is never deserved, and those who experience it have the right to feel psychologically and physically safe. There are no ethical benefits to this abuse.

Conflict Resolution: It’s essential to approach conflict resolution focusing on healthy, positive communication and problem-solving between equal partners. Confidential and skilled leadership must view conflicts as opportunities to guide staff learning, including enhancing their self-awareness. This can help prevent conflicts from escalating to cases of bullying.

Bullying Behavior: Intervention is necessary in cases of bullying to protect the target and stop the harmful behavior. Messages should emphasize that bullying is against legislation and company policies and is unethical, unprofessional, and costly. The focus should be on eliminating bullying in the workplace and adhering to company policies to maintain a safe and respectful work environment for all employees.

Educating all employees, from top-down to bottom-up, on these distinctions is crucial to addressing conflicts and bullying appropriately and effectively. Our in-depth trauma-informed training is designed to equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to identify and respond to conflicts and bullying in a way that promotes a safe and healthy workplace culture. This training emphasizes the importance of being aware of the impact of trauma on individuals. It provides practical strategies for addressing conflicts and bullying sensitively and effectively.

  • Preventions
  • Interventions
  • Repair, Restore, and Recovery Options

Our training is comprehensive and includes addressing workplace bullying and harassment, as well as helping participants recognize the differences between the two. This approach supports a safer and more respectful environment in the workplace by providing employees with the knowledge and skills to recognize and respond to bullying and harassment effectively. Educating all employees on these topics can create a workplace culture that values and promotes respect, inclusivity, and mutual understanding.

Award Winning: Trauma-informed, in-depth training from a holistic perspective. This is the only training to create long-term sustainable positive change leading to psychological safety and healthy work environments.

We must do all we can to prevent harm.

By Linda Crockett MSW, RSW, SEP, CPPA

Trauma-Informed Specialist on the Prevention, Intervention, Repair, Recovery, and Restoration -> Workplace Psychological Hazards (13 yrs. exp + triple award resources).