October 14, 2008

Understanding the Reasons for Workplace Bullying

There are many different issues that motivate bullies to abuse their victims. Although tactics may vary from person to person, bullies share common psychological characteristics that cause them to behave badly toward their colleagues.

Understanding what incites a bully’s behavior may help you deal with it in your workplace more effectively. This will also help you identify abusive situations, and prepare you to help bullies resolve their issues without reverting to abuse.
What You Need to Know

What motivates a bully?

Most incidents of bullying are motivated by the bully’s own lack of self-esteem rather than the specific actions, appearance, or personality of the victim. Many bullies feel that they cannot cope with certain aspects of their own job. They feel threatened by a highly competent colleague or a colleague who receives praise from a manager.

Ultimately, bullies operate to hide their own incompetence. They view their victims as direct threats and bully them in an attempt to prevent their own inadequacies being revealed to other colleagues and managers.
How do bullies choose their targets?

Bullying is motivated by the insecurities and inadequacies of the bully, so any colleague who, unwittingly, threatens to highlight or expose those failings is a potential target.

In addition, certain personality traits are common to the targets of bullies. Such characteristics may include some of the following:

* being popular with colleagues, perhaps because of a vivacious personality and a good sense of humor
* being recognized (by praise or promotion) for professional competence
* being well-known and rewarded for trustworthiness and integrity (perhaps by having increased responsibility)
* being helpful, sensitive and known as someone that colleagues can talk to about professional or personal issues
* finding it difficult to say no and frequently offering to help others with projects or deadlines
* Being unwilling to gossip or engage in malicious discussion about the incompetence of others
* Being quick to apologize when accused of something, even if not guilty

Bullies are also opportunistic and may choose a particular victim in order advance their own career. Many bullies select vulnerable victims that they can intimidate more easily than more confident colleagues—perhaps a new hire, a younger or older colleague, or someone that is shy or reserved. Targeting such people allows bullies to manipulate events and actions in their favor, transferring blame for incompetence from themselves to vulnerable victims.

From: http://www.bnet.com/

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