Violence is great force, either physical or emotional, usually exerted in order to damage or otherwise abuse something or someone. Horizontal violence is violence directed towards one’s peers. All acts of unkindness, discourtesy, sabotage, divisiveness, infighting, lack of cohesiveness, scapegoating and criticism includes horizontal violence. For example Verbal abuse including name calling, threatening, intimidating, dismissing, belittling, undermining, humorous ‘put downs’.
Gossiping (destructive, negative, nasty talk) talking behind the back, backbiting. Sarcastic comments, and Fault finding nit-picking different to those situations where professional and clinical development is required. Horizontal violence is endemic in the workplace culture and it is an unacceptable and destructive phenomenon. All members of every workplace are urged to work together to address the issues of oppression and eliminate this unhealthy behaviour from the workplace to keep the workplace professional.
There are appropriate strategies to horizontal violence such as Recognise and acknowledge that horizontal violence exists in the workplace, Provide regular education for all staff on the subject of horizontal violence; for example, what it is, how to address it, and Talk to all staff members about the phenomenon, to break the silence. The effects of ongoing horizontal violence are progressive if not addressed and are explained stress begins to dawn on the individual reduced self-esteem, sleeping disorders, and free floating anxiety.
To avoid horizontal violence Engage in reflective practice – keep a journal, raise your self-awareness about your own values, beliefs and attitudes and your own behaviour; begin or continue a path of personal growth – own your ‘shadow’ ensure you are part of the solution, not part of the problem, (and we all are part of the problem at times , the important thing is to note and address it) Ensure elf-caring behaviours, massage, counselling, peer support, good nutrition, adequate sleep, time out, meditation, exercise do the things that help you to be healthy and happy in all aspects of your human ness. Be willing to speak up when you witness it happening and name ‘horizontal violence’ for what it is.