Unpacking Adverse Social Behaviours in the Workplace

Unpacking Adverse Social Behaviours in the Workplace

Published: October 9, 2023 | Last Updated: November 10, 2023

What are Adverse Social Behaviours?

Not all interactions at the office are conducive to a healthy work environment. Some behaviours damage camaraderie, communication, and overall productivity. 

This blog explores those harmful practices that might be subtly (or not-so-subtly) sabotaging your workplace dynamics. From malicious gossip to exclusion to bullying, we'll expose these issues, their impacts, and how to recognise them.

Understanding and confronting these behaviours is the first step towards a more positive, inclusive work culture. Let's dive in.

Examples of Adverse Social Behaviours

Adverse social behaviours can significantly negatively impact individuals and the overall social environment. Here are some pertinent examples of adverse social behaviours in the workplace:

Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying refers to repetitive, persistent, and harmful behaviour targeted at an individual or a group of individuals in the workplace. Defined as a form of long-term interpersonal aggression, it can involve actions such as verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, spreading rumours, or excluding someone from work-related activities. Workplace bullying creates a hostile work environment, causing emotional distress, reduced productivity, and a decline in overall well-being.


Harassment in the workplace involves any unwanted or unwelcome behaviour that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for an individual. It can be based on factors such as gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Examples of workplace harassment include making derogatory comments, displaying offensive images, unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favours, or creating a hostile work environment through persistent offensive behaviour.

Workplace Physical Violence

This is about acts of physical aggression or violence that occur within a workplace setting. It can involve physical assault, threats, or the use of force against coworkers, supervisors, or subordinates. Workplace physical violence can cause severe physical harm, psychological trauma, and a pervasive sense of fear and insecurity among employees.

Workplace Verbal Violence

Verbal violence in the workplace is the use of aggressive, demeaning, or threatening language intended to harm, intimidate, or belittle others. This behaviour can include shouting, swearing, name-calling, or making derogatory remarks about someone's race, gender, abilities, or personal characteristics. Verbal violence creates a toxic work environment, erodes trust and collaboration, and can have long-lasting psychological effects on the individuals targeted.

The Impact of Such Behaviours on Individuals and Teams

Such behaviours can have profound negative effects on individuals and teams, leading to a multitude of adverse health outcomes. Chronic sleep problems may arise due to stress and anxiety caused by the behaviours, resulting in fatigue, decreased productivity, and impaired cognitive functioning.

Moreover, the persistent strain can contribute to the development or exacerbation of depression, affecting both personal well-being and team dynamics. It can also lead to various negative job outcomes, such as greater turnover intention, decreased job satisfaction, and decreased productivity. Recognising and addressing these behaviours is crucial for promoting a healthier and more productive work environment.

Steps Organisations Can Take to Address and Prevent ASB

It's important for organisations to have clear policies and procedures in place to address and prevent these types of adverse social behaviours. Encouraging a culture of respect, providing training on diversity and inclusion, establishing reporting mechanisms, and taking prompt action to address incidents are vital steps in creating a safe and supportive work environment.

If you can recognise the early warning signs, you may be able to prevent behavioural outbursts. If someone's behaviour puts them or someone else at risk, you'll need to intervene as calmly as possible. Ultimately, employees who trust their managers are more likely to bring negative behaviour to their attention, and managers can be more effective in addressing the behaviour early.

Professional Situational Awareness Training for Businesses From ATR

If you want to improve your situational awareness and train your mind to become better prepared to deal with challenging environments, look no further than training courses from Advanced Tactical Resources.

We are experienced in training businesses on a group or individual basis with training courses such as trauma training, hostile environment training and first aid training. Get in touch now to learn more about the courses we can offer your business!