March 27th, 2011 @

Workplace Bullying: Would You Recognise It?

The experience of workplace bullying can be extremely traumatic and debilitating. And because many bullying tactics are more subtle, realising that bullying is taking place, even by the victim, is not always that obvious.

We are all familiar with the issues around schoolyard bullying, and the recent youtube clip showing a bully fighting back at a school in Western Sydney, which went viral … has brought new interest into this topic. (

However, may workplace bullies continue to function within organisations, often working within the established rules of the organisation. And, depending on the culture of the organisation, they are often able to successfully use the hierarchy of the organisation to support their bullying attemps, with significant impacts on the individual victims.

Whether in a larger or smaller organisation, the victim of bullying often feels totally powerless to do anything about it. One of the major factors is fear around the loss of their jobs, or being labelled a troublemaker … becoming an outcast.

I wonder if you are a victim of workplace bullying, or if you would even recognise it if it was happening to someone around you? Or perhaps you may inadvertently be bullying someone else?

Wikipedia has an interesting list of types of workplace bullying (some sourced from the Bullying Institute).

If you have a spare 90 seconds, it may be worth a read of this list below, and a moment of your time to reflect on your own workplace.

Workplace bullying tactics

Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute, suggests that the following are the most common 25 tactics used by workplace bullies.

  1. Falsely accused someone of “errors” not actually made (71 percent).
  2. Stared, glared, was nonverbally intimidating and was clearly showing hostility (68 percent).
  3. Discounted the person’s thoughts or feelings (“oh, that’s silly”) in meetings (64 percent).
  4. Used the “silent treatment” to “ice out” and separate from others (64 percent).
  5. Exhibited presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group (61 percent).
  6. Made up own rules on the fly that even she/he did not follow (61 percent).
  7. Disregarded satisfactory or exemplary quality of completed work despite evidence (58 percent).
  8. Harshly and constantly criticized having a different standard for the target (57 percent).
  9. Started, or failed to stop, destructive rumors or gossip about the person (56 percent).
  10. Encouraged people to turn against the person being tormented (55 percent).
  11. Singled out and isolated one person from coworkers, either socially or physically (54 percent).
  12. Publicly displayed gross, undignified, but not illegal, behavior (53 percent).
  13. Yelled, screamed, threw tantrums in front of others to humiliate a person (53 percent).
  14. Stole credit for work done by others (plagiarism) (47 percent).
  15. Abused the evaluation process by lying about the person’s performance (46 percent).
  16. Declared target “insubordinate” for failing to follow arbitrary commands (46 percent).
  17. Used confidential information about a person to humiliate privately or publicly (45 percent).
  18. Retaliated against the person after a complaint was filed (45 percent).
  19. Made verbal put-downs/insults based on gender, race, accent, age or language, disability (44 percent).
  20. Assigned undesirable work as punishment (44 percent).
  21. Created unrealistic demands (workload, deadlines, duties) for person singled out (44 percent).
  22. Launched a baseless campaign to oust the person; effort not stopped by the employer (43 percent).
  23. Encouraged the person to quit or transfer rather than to face more mistreatment (43 percent).
  24. Sabotaged the person’s contribution to a team goal and reward (41 percent).
  25. Ensured failure of person’s project by not performing required tasks, such as sign-offs, taking calls, working with collaborators (40 percent)

Abusive workplace behaviours

Common abusive workplace behaviours are:

  1. Disrespecting and devaluing the individual, often through disrespectful and devaluing language or verbal abuse
  2. Overwork and devaluation of personal life (particularly salaried workers who are not compensated)
  3. Harassment through micromanagement of tasks and time
  4. Overevaluation and manipulating information (for example concentration on negative characteristics and failures, setting up subordinate for failure).
  5. Managing by threat and intimidation
  6. Stealing credit and taking unfair advantage
  7. Preventing access to opportunities
  8. Downgrading an employee’s capabilities to justify downsizing
  9. Impulsive destructive behaviour

Harley Conyer


Category : Bullying & Men and Anger & Workplace

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