If we were to create a workplace bullying target persona, she would be a 42-year old, college-educated, full-time, non-supervisory, non-union worker in healthcare, education, or the government.
Targets of workplace abuse are most often motivated to help others — the do-gooders who enter healing and helping professions. When they don't also focus on politics, they become vulnerable to abuse. This mindset generally falls along gender and industry lines.
Targets and witnesses often say that those targeted abuse are often kind and cooperative. Though they also considered targets not likely to defend themselves and vulnerable (a strength often seen as a weakness in our patriarchal culture), it’s important to note targets are cooperators, not competitors. And collaborative work environments are proven to be not just healthier for employees but also for organizations’ bottom lines.
Nursing and teaching: rampant with bullying
What’s more dangerous is that in the nursing and teaching professions, bullying has become normalized. In the teaching profession, abuse from administrators in front of students serves as poor modeling.
Government: the third-ranked industry
Poorly trained supervisors are the major problem in this sector. Managers tend to use aggressive approaches to mask a lack of interpersonal skills and other incompetencies, and their tight budgets do not often allow for management training.
Workplace bullying targets don’t always fit this mold
Workplace bullying targets aren’t only educated, non-political, altruistic women in their 40s. Respondents came from various walks of life: men, white collar workers, blue collar workers, non-educated, supervisors, and managers. The only common trait among targets is that their competence poses a threat to insecure perpetrators.
Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage.
Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s behaving. At best, the bully’s sidetracking the goals of the organization. At worst, the bully’s threatening or maybe even destroying your life by abusing you: your health, your family, your career, your finances, and your happiness.
You know it’s not a personality conflict. You’re not too sensitive. You’re not thin-skinned. It’s downright abuse. You expected your work environment to support you to do the work you were hired to do. You expected to be treated with dignity and respect.
The organization doesn’t care. They think it’s in their best interest to ignore the problem — meaning you — and make you go away. When you speak up, you’re the problem. You’re treasonous. If you fight them, they’ll fight harder.
Meanwhile, you’re stressed out and angry, and it gets worse the longer the bullying goes on, making you an easier target for the bully. Your physical and mental health are depleted. You consider or take stress leave.
Find out what workplace bullying is, why it happens, what's worked — and what hasn't worked — for hundreds of other workplace bullying targets, and how to start the path to healing in this comprehensive online course drawing from the greatest minds in workplace bullying.
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