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The Consequences of Shunning People in the Workplace

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For a company to run smoothly there must be harmony, cohesion and respect in the office among the co-workers. Cliques, office politics and shunning people in the workplace can lead to an ineffective office and a hostile work environment. You do not have to like all of your co-workers, but respect and professionalism are crucial. Shunning co-workers has consequences that adversely affect everyone.

Lack of Communication

When employees are actively shunning a co-worker, office effectiveness goes down. Most offices run as a team and the team cannot run smoothly when a link in the chain is broken. Additionally, victims have to spend time defending themselves or fretting about the situation, which can lead to a personal drop in productivity.

Emotional and Physical Toll

Those who are shunned can have an increase in physical and emotional stress leading to poor overall health. Anxiety, depression and lack of self-esteem are all the battle wounds of a shunned co-worker. Victims often feel powerless and begin to believe that they deserve the treatment they are getting. Constant stress is also hard on the immune system, making a victim more prone to illness.

Silent Witnesses

Workplace bullying often creates silent witnesses. Co-workers who do not join in the shunning might also do nothing to counteract or stop it. This causes stress and guilt, or expended energy making sure they belong to the group that is not going to turn on them next. Silent witnesses lead to additional fractures within the workplace environment.

Potential Lawsuits

Someone who is actively shunned in the workplace can claim they were subjected to a hostile environment in a potential lawsuit against the company, especially if the shunning is based on discrimination toward the co-worker's age, sex, race or religion. This is particularly true if proper measures are not taken by upper management to counteract the bullying. Aside from causing problems in the general fabric of the workplace, lawsuits can be costly for both sides.


C.K. Wren graduated in 2001 from Utah State University with dual degrees in history and technical writing. She has written extensively for Demand Studios as well as several magazine publications.

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