Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Workplace Abuse: Who Gets Chosen? And Why?

While I usually like to add an appropriate picture or two on my blog postings, at this time and for this topic, I'm not finding any that convey the utter despondency and devastation caused by abuse in the workplace.  Pictures of sunsets, sunrises, flowers, etc. just do not seem to fit in here.

Unless I were to have been in a place that had just undergone total devastation in the form of an earthquake, tsunami, typhoon, hurricane, tornado or flood for instance, there is no way to adequately portray in pictorial form the complete and utter devastation the target/victim/survivor of workplace abuse experiences inside.  

Inside where no scars show.  Where there are no visible wounds.

However, the internal damage/injury experienced by the survivor, is a totally different posting for another day.  Today, I want to focus on who is chosen for the dubious "honour" of being bullied in the workplace.

So, how do the bullies select their targets?  How did you (or I) end up becoming a threat to someone in the workplace?  What did we do wrong?

These are questions, I asked myself over and over.  Questions that perpetually teased my brain.  Questions that had no answers.

I was a very good, competent worker.  I knew my job - thoroughly.  I did not get involved in office gossip.  I was different from the others in many ways which I'll go into in a later, companion piece to this one.

Here, I'll let someone else, the web site Bully OnLine describe why you and I were targeted:
The target of bullying is often competent and popular, and the bully is aggressively projecting their own social, interpersonal and professional inadequacy onto their target. The purpose of projection is to avoid facing up to that inadequacy and doing something about it, and mainly - to distract and divert attention away from the bully's inadequacies, shortcomings, and failings. In most cases, the bullying you see is the tip of an iceberg of wrongdoing by the bully.  (quoted from actions to tackle bullying at work, a page from Bully OnLine, web site of the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line)
Adding more insight and credibility to the above quoted position that the target is, in general, being targeted for the "wrong" reasons i.e. because of their competency and other aspects of their character/personality rather than their incompetency, is the below quote found on the web site nobullyforme:
Contrary to popular opinion, those most vulnerable to mobbing (a prevalent form of bullying gone amok which we will explore in a later post) are not subservient, easily intimidated or insecure he (Stephen Hill quoted earlier in this article) stresses.  In fact, they are generally well-liked, principled, technically competent, co-operative and non-confrontational.  "A bully consider such personal strengths and abilities a threat and decides to cut them down," he says.
He further goes on to state:
As targets usually do nothing to merit dismissal and tend to ignore subtle cues to leave, they are subjected to harassment designed to force them out.  A recent No Bully For Me online survey concluded that 20 percent of Canada's bullying targets are male, 80 percent are female and 66 per cent are aged 35 to 55. 
Looking at the above, we can see that the target is picked not because they are ugly, have warts on their face and fart a lot.  They are picked because of their very competence.  Looking at the first quote, they are picked because they have qualities which the bully lacks - and wishes very much to have.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  However, a blog posting is not supposed to be a 50,000 word book.  You would lose interest quickly.  No matter how germaine or useful the subject matter is.

So, I am posting this in small bites.  Bites small enough to read in one posting.  Posts which, hopefully, will build on one another.

For today, I'm going to end with one of the quotes I found in the very beginning which summed up my situation quote well.  From the web site No Workplace Bullies by Catherine Mattice:
Bullying occurs for many reasons, and like a pot of stew, when all the right ingredients are mixed in together, someone begins to stir.  This means that when the organizational context, the bully's personality, the victim's personality and the managerial approval is all there, and the stars are aligned properly, bullies take on their form.


1 comment:

  1. The way you compare the scars of bullying to a photo of natural disaster devastation paints a powerful picture. I can't even imagine how hard it's been to pull yourself from that rubble and start to rebuild. Keep on going!