What is Bullying? Brunel academic on panel providing new definition for the USA

Leading expert in bullying behaviour, Brunel's Professor Ian Rivers has recently finished working with the US government to agree a consistent definition of bullying for use across the country.
The Uniform Bullying Definition Project has been agreed at a federal level so there is consistency of measurement across the US, which individual states can opt to use in the national surveillance surveys.  These surveys look at a sample of children from across the country every two years (such as the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and the Health Behaviors in School-age Children (HBSC) survey).  This definition doesn't supersede individual state definitions which are enshrined in law.

Unlike the US, the UK doesn't have an agreed definition or approach to tackling bullying, neither does it survey the health and wellbeing of pupils in schools so it is hard to directly translate this research. The British government has committed to address and give guidance on bullying – with £2million to the BeatBullying charity to tackle cyber-bullying. 

As the only British representative on a panel made up of US and Canadian academics, Professor Rivers found the differences between how the two countries deal with bullying striking: "There is lots of coverage around bullying but are we measuring the same thing? It would help to have a consistent baseline definition which would underpin work to tackle cyber-bullying and develop guidance for schools. Schools need guidance on what bullying is and is not, how to measure it, record it, and build interventions around knowledge of their own schools' circumstances. We can learn a great deal from the approach taken in the US to reach a consensus and measure behaviour systematically."

However, there are other difficulties around providing a definition of bullying as Professor Rivers explains, "Bullying is a very subjective experience and the definition often describes the behaviour of the perpetrator whereas the measurement is often from the perspective of the victim. How we operationalise our understanding of bullying and apply it in school or work-based contexts differs".
Professor Rivers' involvement in this important work will continue as the panel will meet regularly to refine this definition.

The agreed US Definition of Bullying Among Youths:

Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behaviour(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.

From: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/news-items/ne_351985

Having worked at Kingston University...

Having worked at Kingston University I experienced racism and people got away with it. I was told when I got the job by the team leader that "there are many other jobs out there" after she offered to take me out for an introductory tea and in hindsight she was doing me a favour a telling me how it is. I was one of a number of applicants who applied and been offered the job there was departmental grooming of new applicants into particular work areas and I was the last and on weeks without work and ended up sharing a workload. A colleague who joined at the same time as me complained about departmental behaviours and etiquette. The international department is actually the British Government department how offices are related to based on countries and associations. I worked for about a year and went through disciplinary procedures without a union rep as I was naïve believing that reason and fact coming first their was no basis to the charges from the department. There was no basis for on Institutional racism in UK universities?


The Privileged Piss Money Away And Daddy Pays Hush Money

I've never been a big fan of University Counsel or, more specifically, the office. The folks employed in those offices represent the University but serve at the pleasure of the folks who may screw up from time to time and would prefer to make sure there is no publicity. The conflict of interest is obvious and since the goals of the university are so ill-defined my money is that they protect people.

But that is not my complaint here. This one goes deeper to illustrate how universities protect the privileged from their obvious misdeeds and then stick taxpayers with the bill.

So consider this scenario which is based on fact (not as some movies say "inspired" by actual events whatever that means). Suppose a person is being considered for a faculty position. At my school that means a vote. If it is positive by a substantial margin the dean makes an offer. A little less than substantial and the dean has discretion.

At this point I need to ask you to make two assumptions. They are only necessary to protect those to whom I promised anonymity. First, assume the candidate is black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, male, female.  Pick your favorite combination. Now assume that not hiring the person or hiring the person because he or she is that combination is illegal.

Now further suppose (not assume) that before or during the votes people say (in code or just bluntly) they will not vote for the person because of those characteristics. This could be in email, or orally in the faculty lounge or, more likely, by people sneaking around door to door.

Ok, I lied, (comes with the training) I need one more assumption. The person gets a negative vote from the faculty or one that is so close that the dean cannot make an offer or will not because it would displease the people he or she is most afraid of.

The candidate gets wind of the fact that the vote may have been tainted by consideration of illegal factors. She makes some noise about consulting an attorney. Next thing you know she is cashing a big fat check and signing a confidentiality agreement which is a fancy term for hush money.

What is wrong  here? The people who actually broke the law or were reckless enough that University Officials preferred to write a check and keep it quiet walk away completely sheltered by the University. In most cases they do not even know that daddy took care of them because they have been unaccountable all their lives. They think it is great sport for the clerk at the convenience store -- you know the single mom, with 3 kids who needs dental care and a car that needs a battery -- to pay for their gossip, fun, lack of concern, and lack of courage.

BTW, please spare me any argument about the courage of these people. If they stood up and opposed the law -- as in civil disobedience -- that is a different matter. I have yet to see a law professor show any courage that meant actually taking a risk.

I CAN"T HEAR YOU: Tone Deaf Administrators

Can a new law school dean save the UF administration from itself? UF seems to be involved in an experiment to find out. Deans do report to the Central Administration but they live with faculty and typically succeed or fail based on faculty reaction. The key factor is "buying  in." When faculty are part of the process, they "buy in" and missteps by a new dean are forgiven. If the dean is selected without much faculty involvement, "buy in" may be low.  

On this simply point UF administrators seem to have developed instant onset tone deafness. This is unfortunately because no one in the central administration has significant exposure to legal education or appears to be interested in A.B.A accreditation guidelines. Plus, it governs a University that is ranked slightly lower than the Law School it has the hubris to tell how it can be great. Here are the symptoms of instant onset tone deafness.

1. The Search Committee. The Law Dean Search Committee is composed of 11 people - five from the law school. The law school faculty voted to select a pool of faculty members from which the Provost picked. The Provost did not select those receiving the highest votes, skipping over some of the more assertive people. Of the five, three have tenure and are generally familiar with legal education at a national level. This makes them the most likely to speak out. On the other hand, if the Provost selected people whose careers have generally been advanced by playing ball with administrators, the effective number is less than 3 of 11.

2. A search firm was employed to locate candidates. The cost remains a mystery.  Search firms are terrific if they have some expertise that would lead to uncovering otherwise unknown prospects. The law teaching world, though, is a small one and hiring a search firm to find a law dean candidate is like hiring one to find a football stadium in Gainesville. This means for what was likely tens of thousands of dollars the search firm appears to have made phone calls and forwarded CVs. At most it did what a firm year professor could have done. Or perhaps the idea was to keep the process under wraps.  A search firm windfall financed by taxpayers with UF writing the check.

3. The search firm bungled even this task. It is increasingly clear that the firm did not fully advise the candidates about Florida's openness policy: All materials and names associated with the search are public.  Exacerbating this was the firm's decision to announce all 24 candidates at once. This lead to a massive data dump that treated each candidate like a potato at a produce stand.  In the past, although public as the law requires, the process allowed publicity shy dean candidates to have their names trickled out over several months and allowed them ample time to drop out if the competition looked stiff.

4. Three days after the data dump of 24 candidates the list was trimmed to 10. No faculty representatives on the committee called for a discussion or solicited the views of the faculty. Thus, the major paring down of the list was based on CV's and the hunches of three members of the committee with some knowledge of the law school world. Yes, thousands of dollars worth of names were either DOA or deep-sixed on slightly  more than a whim.

5. The committee (not the faculty) will interview the candidates for 75 minutes each and, on the basis of that interview (and one hopes extensive research), narrow the list to the people who will visit the law school for what may loosely be called interviews. At this stage, whether the faculty will be consulted is unclear but it is a bit like having the waiter hand you a menu with the message "you may only select items I like."

6. From this point, who knows what will happen. No one seems to know how many of the 10 will be invited to meet the faculty in interviews or what the outcome of those interviews will be. The consistent message is that the input of the faculty will be considered. 

Fortunately the next dean can save the administration from itself.  Any candidate determined to be successful will surely only accept the position if there is a strong positive vote from the faculty.   Unfortunately, making that demand may also mean the candidate is viewed as unsuitable by the Administration.

Clarifying the Record: A Rat's Ass and the List of Dean Candidates

Since my little dust up with officials at the University of Florida I have heard and read things that indicate the list of dean candidates became public because of me. Some folks feel I did a bad thing and others a good thing. The bad thing people believe I exposed the candidates to possible embarrassment.  The faculty lounge commentators are big on this complaint. Many of their comments are like the exam answers I get when students make up a new set of facts and then write an answer. Even the writer of the initial post goes off course by writing: ""Unfortunately for those candidates, and the committee, Florida has an open meeting law."  Every single candidate knew he or she would be on a list that would become public. And, to their credit, they applied anyway. The least we can say about the people on the list is they are not worried about publicly exposing a desire for something they may not get. In the law school world this is no small thing. How is that unfortunate? In fact, if it did scare some wussier candidates away they are delighted.

But to those who think I did a good thing, I cannot accept the credit as least as far as the list becoming public. The list would have become public anyway in a few days at most. And, in the words of diplomat and future Nobel Prize Winner, Dennis Rodman, I did not give a rats ass about who was on the list. I had the list within about 10 seconds of one of the more fretful members of the committee learning that I would complain to the newspaper if I did not get it.

Nope, the real trouble was not about the list; it was about the crazy, out-of-fashion especially at law schools and Universities, notion that people should tell the truth.  So, my digging (as it has be put on at least one blog) was not investigative. Instead it was about having a really bad anti authority streak and the perhaps irrational need to switch to bulldog mode when someone in the administration tells me something I know is not true. The Codes of law school conduct instruct us never to embarrasses anyone by noting they have not told the truth. Not telling the truth is evidently collegial but calling someone out on it is not. It appears all members of the search team, including law school members, live by this rule. It's to be expected, as I noted in the post two posts ago, they are all squad leaders now.

The Decanal Search Firm Rip Off?

Many universities are now hiring expensive search firms to find candidates for deanships including those for law schools. I have to admit, I do not get it. Sure there are probably some economies of scales in that 20 law schools looking for a dean do not make calls to the same 100 or so possible candidates.  So, it appears that the search is like handing the job over to a secretary who makes the calls for the Universities.

Eventually the search firm comes up with a list of people willing to be considering. Seems like this is the same list anyone at a law school could create. Half the list will be perennial dean wannabes who are also on the list supplied to other schools possibly for years on end. The other half of the list is what? Promising people that only the search firm could  find. I doubt it.

My sense is that a couple of under employed law profs armed with a phone and maybe a couple of beers could create any list a search firm would develop.

The search firm option only makes sense if he really does mean lower transaction costs and getting a better dean than would be the case if two or three law professors did the same thing. Now we know if two or three law professors took time away from their scholarship to handle this, the cost would be zero. It would be hard for a search firm to charge less. So, does the firm find a dean who is so much better that it is worth whatever it costs. I cannot say either way but I lean toward no.

Blind Grading? How About Blind Hiring?

From the Caron Tax Blog

Petty Status, Power, and Law Profs

A really long time ago - in fact, the last century-- students were required in some schools to take ROTC. Mainly this meant putting on a uniform for an hour and marching around. Your uniform had to be spiffy. Mine was usually picked up off the floor of my dorm room after having been walked on for a week. This always led to many demerits.  But I actually got a good grade in ROTC -- a D -- when some of my other grades were lower.

The oddest thing would happen in ROTC. You could be with a group of eight kids marching around and the boss -- squad leader? -- would tell one of them to be the new boss and tell us what to do -- hut, one, two, about face, etc. With that tiny bit of power they became tyrants. They would completely change character from being regular people to shouting orders, berating you, and crazy stuff like that.

I guess things do not change. Now the version of being are regular person who is asked to do something else is  to be appointed to a search committee at a university. Simply by that,  the people, who may or may not be good teachers, good writers or anything else are, in their minds elevated. Somehow they  become more privileged to information,  more withholding, more official, and even Yoda like -- knowledgeable, wise. In effect, they view it as a promotion that means they are better in some way. Sometimes they only have the position because no one anyone actually respects appoints them.  Still is it a very big deal to them. They are now taking orders from others and a member of the inside crowd. They do not understand that they have not been promoted. Instead they have been demoted.

Where does this faux notion of status and entitlement come from? Is it because they have been powerless sycophants ever since their grade grubbing and butt kissing days in law school and they long to have power. Is it because they actually think what they are doing is important in any realistic sense.

It is not every one and not as dramatic as the 19 year olds in ROTC but it is the same illusion of importance.

Bullying makes life miserable for academics: Study

Bullying isn’t restricted to youngsters. A study shows that it is a trend that can make life miserable for academics too. Bullying can happen anywhere, to anyone, and a Rutgers-Camden nursing scholar has shed light on how it is becoming increasingly common in academia.

“What worries me is the impact that bullying is having on the ability to recruit and retain quality educators,” says Janice Beitz, a professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden. “It has become a disturbing trend.”

Beitz is the co-author of “Social Bullying in Nursing Academia”, an article published in the September/October 2013 edition of Nurse Educator that draws upon interviews of 16 nursing professors who were the victims of social bullying in an academic nursing workplace. “We don’t know how widespread this is, but it exists,” says Beitz, who said she too was bullied in her career.

“Not many people look at bullying in the academic environment. We wanted to raise awareness of it.” In the study, Beitz notes that among the most common cases of bullying, academic administrators are targeting faculty, but in some cases, faculty are bullying other faculty members or their administrative superiors, reports Science Daily.

“The bully can make life miserable for the target,” she explained. “That’s because in an administrative role, a bully has the power to make decisions about the target. Part of it is the unique nature of higher education.”

“The tenure process is different than any other environment. Administrators in academia have power over colleagues, and sometimes that power causes them to bully their subordinates,” she said.

From: http://www.canindia.com/2013/12/bullying-makes-life-miserable-for-academics-study/

The Privileged Need Tenure to Speak? Geez! Do I Hear Whining?

Oh my goodness. According to one report law professors are worried about the demise of tenure because of the impact it will have on their academic freedom. Now let's put this in perspective. We are not talking about someone in a factory who wants to support forming a union. No, we are talking about privileged people with professional degrees. Frankly, I am not too keen on people who claim to have important things to say but can only say them if they are sheltered from the consequences. Plus, I am not sure I can think of many instances in which a law professor has actually uttered something controversial much less had his or her job threatened because of it. The fact is almost no one is listening and even fewer care. Many law professors have a powerful need to seem unconventional. In many cases this is to make up for a life of exactly the opposite. Claiming to need tenure in order to be controversial is part of this illusion.

The entire matter, though, still seems overblown and a wee bit hypocritical. First, tenure is in a sense under inclusive. It only protects incumbents. Those incumbents are often the first to vote against a faculty candidate with a different point of view and to vote for those with whom they are politically comfortable.  Law teaching is, thus,  a world of academic freedom for the elites who then deny it to others.  Indeed the term  "academic freedom" would be more transparent if it were routinely followed by "for me and for you if you agree with me." I have witnessed this on several occasions at my law school.   Perhaps it is not the same elsewhere but I doubt it. 

Second,  for every person (if there are any) who says something truly important only because of tenure, my hunch is that we could also identify hundreds for whom tenure became shelter for less productivity post tenure and who have nothing at all to say that will annoy anyone ever. (A reference to the wonderful line in "Lucky Jim:" "it's not worth writing if it does not annoy someone.")  I am just not sure it is worth it especially in a discipline that ultimately owes its existence to the goal of protecting the status quo. 

One of the wackiest defenses of tenure I have heard is that it must be working to protect the expressions of law professors because we rarely  hear of an instance in which law professors come under scrutiny. Aside from the fact that very few care what they say, the logic of this is like "we know the moon is protecting us from comets because so few have crashed to earth."

Having said all that I strong support tenure but not for the hollow academic freedom rationale. A world without tenure would mean self promotion would run wild. The battle to add meaningless lines to resumes would escalate and law professors would write even more unread articles. We  are in the midst of that now and it would only get worse. 

The dark side of emotional intelligence

Some of the greatest moments in human history were fueled by emotional intelligence. When Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his dream, he chose language that would stir the hearts of his audience. “Instead of honoring this sacred obligation” to liberty, King thundered, “American has given the Negro people a bad check.” He promised that a land “sweltering with the heat of oppression” could be “transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” and envisioned a future in which “on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Delivering this electrifying message required emotional intelligence—the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions. Dr. King demonstrated remarkable skill in managing his own emotions and in sparking emotions that moved his audience to action. As his speechwriter Clarence Jones reflected, King delivered “a perfectly balanced outcry of reason and emotion, of anger and hope. His tone of pained indignation matched that note for note.”

Emotional intelligence is important, but the unbridled enthusiasm has obscured a dark side. Recognizing the power of emotions, another one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century spent years studying the emotional effects of his body language. Practicing his hand gestures and analyzing images of his movements allowed him to become “an absolutely spellbinding public speaker,” says the historian Roger Moorhouse—“it was something he worked very hard on.” His name was Adolph Hitler.

Since the 1995 publication of Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, emotional intelligence has been touted by leaders, policymakers, and educators as the solution to a wide range of social problems. If we can teach our children to manage emotions, the argument goes, we’ll have less bullying and more cooperation. If we can cultivate emotional intelligence among leaders and doctors, we’ll have more caring workplaces and more compassionate healthcare. As a result, emotional intelligence is now taught widely in secondary schools, business schools, and medical schools.

When you’re good at controlling your own emotions,
you can disguise your true feelings.

Emotional intelligence is important, but the unbridled enthusiasm has obscured a dark side. New evidence shows that when people hone their emotional skills, they become better at manipulating others. When you’re good at controlling your own emotions, you can disguise your true feelings. When you know what others are feeling, you can tug at their heartstrings and motivate them to act against their own best interests.

Social scientists have begun to document this dark side of emotional intelligence. In emerging research led by University of Cambridge professor Jochen Menges, when a leader gave an inspiring speech filled with emotion, the audience was less likely to scrutinize the message and remembered less of the content. Ironically, audience members were so moved by the speech that they claimed to recall more of it.

The authors call this the awestruck effect, but it might just as easily be described as the dumbstruck effect. One observer reflected that Hitler’s persuasive impact came from his ability to strategically express emotions—he would “tear open his heart”—and these emotions affected his followers to the point that they would “stop thinking critically and just emote.”

"Whenever we wanted to persuade our staff to support a particular project we always tried to break their hearts."

The employees who engaged in the most harmful behaviors were Machiavellians with high emotional intelligence. 

 Leaders who master emotions can rob us of our capacities to reason. If their values are out of step with our own, the results can be devastating. New evidence suggests that when people have self-serving motives, emotional intelligence becomes a weapon for manipulating others. In a study led by the University of Toronto psychologist Stéphane Côté, university employees filled out a survey about their Machiavellian tendencies, and took a test measuring their knowledge about effective strategies for managing emotions. Then, Cote’s team assessed how often the employees deliberately undermined their colleagues. The employees who engaged in the most harmful behaviors were Machiavellians with high emotional intelligence. They used their emotional skills to demean and embarrass their peers for personal gain. In one computer company studied by Tel-Aviv University professor Gideon Kunda, a manager admitted to telling a colleague “how excited we all are with what he is doing,” but at the same time, “distancing my organization from the project,” so “when it blows up,” the company’s founder would blame the colleague.

Shining a light on this dark side of emotional intelligence is one mission of a research team led by University College London Professor Martin Kilduff. According to these experts, emotional intelligence helps people disguise one set of emotions while expressing another for personal gain. Emotionally intelligent people “intentionally shape their emotions to fabricate favorable impressions of themselves,” Professor Kilduff’s team writes. “The strategic disguise of one’s own emotions and the manipulation of others’ emotions for strategic ends are behaviors evident not only on Shakespeare’s stage but also in the offices and corridors where power and influence are traded.”

Of course, people aren’t always using emotional intelligence for nefarious ends. More often than not, emotional skills are simply instrumental tools for goal accomplishment. In a study of emotions at the Body Shop, a research team led by Stanford professor Joanne Martin discovered that founder Anita Roddick leveraged emotions to inspire her employees to fundraise for charity. As Roddick explained, “Whenever we wanted to persuade our staff to support a particular project we always tried to break their hearts.” However, Roddick also encouraged employees to be strategic in the timing of their emotion expressions. In one case, after noticing that an employee often “breaks down in tears with frustration,” Roddick said it was acceptable to cry, but “I told her it has to be used. I said, ‘Here, cry at this point in the ... meeting.” When viewing Roddick as an exemplar of an emotionally intelligent leader, it becomes clear that there’s a fine line between motivation and manipulation. Walking that tightrope is no easy task.

In jobs that required extensive attention to emotions, higher emotional intelligence translated into better performance. In jobs that involved fewer emotional demands, the results reversed. In settings where emotions aren’t running high, emotional intelligence may have hidden costs. Recently, psychologists Dana Joseph of the University of Central Florida and Daniel Newman of the University of Illinois comprehensively analyzed every study that has ever examined the link between emotional intelligence and job performance. Across hundreds of studies of thousands of employees in 191 different jobs, emotional intelligence wasn’t consistently linked with better performance. In jobs that required extensive attention to emotions, higher emotional intelligence translated into better performance. Salespeople, real-estate agents, call-center representatives, and counselors all excelled at their jobs when they knew how to read and regulate emotions—they were able to deal more effectively with stressful situations and provide service with a smile.

However, in jobs that involved fewer emotional demands, the results reversed. The more emotionally intelligent employees were, the lower their job performance. For mechanics, scientists, and accountants, emotional intelligence was a liability rather than an asset. Although more research is needed to unpack these results, one promising explanation is that these employees were paying attention to emotions when they should have been focusing on their tasks. If your job is to analyze data or repair cars, it can be quite distracting to read the facial expressions, vocal tones, and body languages of the people around you. In suggesting that emotional intelligence is critical in the workplace, perhaps we’ve put the cart before the horse.

Instead of assuming that emotional intelligence is always useful, we need to think more carefully about where and when it matters. In a recent study at a healthcare company, I asked employees to complete a test about managing and regulating emotions, and then asked managers to evaluate how much time employees spent helping their colleagues and customers. There was no relationship whatsoever between emotional intelligence and helping: Helping is driven by our motivations and values, not by our abilities to understand and manage emotions. However, emotional intelligence was consequential when examining a different behavior: challenging the status quo by speaking up with ideas and suggestions for improvement.

Emotionally intelligent employees spoke up more often and more effectively. When colleagues were treated unjustly, they felt the righteous indignation to speak up, but were able to keep their anger in check and reason with their colleagues. When they went out on a limb to advocate for gender equity, emotional intelligence helped them keep their fear at bay. When they brought ideas for innovation to senior leaders, their ability to express enthusiasm helped them avoid threatening leaders. On a much smaller scale, they were able to follow Martin Luther King Jr.’s lead in rocking the boat while keeping it steady.

More than two decades have passed since psychologists Peter Salovey at Yale and John Mayer at the University of New Hampshire introduced the concept of emotional intelligence in 1990. Why has it taken us so long to develop a more nuanced view? After Daniel Goleman popularized the idea in 1995, many researchers—perhaps awestruck themselves by enthusiasm for the concept of emotional intelligence—proceeded to conduct studies that were fatally flawed. As University of Lausanne Professor John Antonakis observed, “practice and voodoo science is running way ahead of rigorous research.”

One of the most persistent problems was the use of self-report measures, which asked employees to rate their own emotional abilities on items like “I can tell how people are feeling even if they never tell me” and “I am generally very good at calming someone down when he or she is upset.” Abilities cannot be accurately measured with self-reports. As emotion experts Sigal Barsade of Wharton and Donald Gibson of Fairfield University lament, “One might compare this approach to assessing mathematical skills by asking respondents, ‘How good are you at solving algebraic equations?’ rather than asking the person to actually solve an algebraic equation.”

Thanks to more rigorous research methods, there is growing recognition that emotional intelligence—like any skill—can be used for good or evil. So if we’re going to teach emotional intelligence in schools and develop it at work, we need to consider the values that go along with it and where it’s actually useful. As Professor Kilduff and colleagues put it, it is high time that emotional intelligence is “pried away from its association with desirable moral qualities.”

From: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/the-dark-side-of-emotional-intelligence/282720/