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Nuances of Workplace Bullying

By Paperstone on October 22, 2010 in Office Workers

Some 53.5 million Americans are reportedly bullied at work, according to the 2010 Workplace Bullying Survey released this month and based on over 6,000 interviews with adults. Rather than being confined to the playground, bullying is endemic in US offices and – contrary to the myth that only affects uneducated, unskilled workers – bullying is more likely to be targeted at educated employees. Taking similar surveys conducted in previous years into account, the report also identifies certain trends. For instance, women bullying women is becoming more common.

Previous studies suggest that in the workplace, bullies target people for their strengths rather than their weaknesses. The 2003 Survey identified the top five reasons individuals are targeted for bullying

  1. Refusal to be subservient / showing independence
  2. Superior technical skills to the bully
  3. Popularity with co-workers
  4. Being ethical and honest
  5. Not being sufficiently political.

However, without knowledge of further details on methodology, these reasons seem to be based on victims’ assessments as to the causes.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute which produces the reports, bullying is “mistreatment severe enough to compromise a targeted worker’s health, jeopardize her or his job and career, and strain relationships with friends and family. It is a laser-focused, systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction. It has nothing to do with work itself. It is driven by the bully’s personal agenda and actually prevents work from getting done. It begins with one person singling out the target. Before long, the bully easily and swiftly recruits others to gang up on the target, which increases the sense of isolation.”

Said Dr. Gary Namie, the institute’s research director, “people are targeted for their strengths and the threats they pose to the defensive, narcissistic perpetrator.”

Source: Workplace Bullying Institute

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