Unlike schoolyard bullying, you were not targeted because you were a "loner" without friends to stand up to the bullying gang. Nor are you a weakling. Most likely you were targeted (for reasons the instigator may or may not have known) because you posed a "threat" to him or her. The perception of threat is entirely in his or her mind but it is what is felt and believed.
Workplace Bullying Institute research findings from our year 2000 study and conversations with thousands of targets have confirmed the following:
Read our checklist of common signs of bullying.
- Targets appear to be the veteran and most skilled person in the workgroup.
- Targets are independent. They refuse to be subservient. Bullies seek to enslave targets. When targets take steps to preserve their dignity, their right to be treated with respect, bullies escalate their campaigns of hatred and intimidation to wrest control of the target's work from the target.
- Targets are more technically skilled than their bullies. They are the "go-to" veteran workers to whom new employees turn for guidance. Insecure bosses and co-workers can't stand to share credit for the recognition of talent. Bully bosses steal credit from skilled targets.
- Targets are better liked, they have more social skills, and quite likely possess more emotional intelligence. They have empathy (even for their bullies). Colleagues, customers, and management (all except the bullies and their sponsors) appreciate the warmth that the targets bring to the workplace.
- Targets are ethical and honest. Some targets are whistleblowers who expose fraudulent practices. Every whistleblower is bullied. Targets are not schemers or slimy con artists. They tend to be guileless. The most easily exploited targets are those whose core personality reflects a pro-social orientation -- a desire to help, heal, teach, develop, and nurture others.
- Targets are non-confrontive. They do not respond to aggression with aggression, but the price paid for apparent submissiveness is that the bully can act with impunity (as long as the employer also does nothing).