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Workplace Bullying

The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in Bellingham, Washington defines workplace bullying as "repeated health-harming mistreatment of one of more persons (targets) by one or more perpetrators." It is "abusive conduct" which is "threatening, humiliating, or intimidating," and which interferes with or sabotages the work of employees.

The WBI's 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey found it is driven by the bully's "need to control the target(s)." Workplace bullies select their target(s), the timing, and the means. THe bullying involves doing things to others or withholding resources from others. Frequently, the bullying will escalate to include others who voluntarily or through coercion become involved in abusing the target. Bullying "undermine legitimate business interests when bullies' personal agendas take precedence over work itself."

WBI has paralleled workplace bullying victims to domestic violence victims. The bully "inflicts pain when and where he or she chooses, keeping the target off balance" with respect to when the next episode will occur. A target is kept close to the bully by the nature of their relationship - boss to subordinate or coworker to coworker.

According to the WBI 2014 Survey, 35% of workers were targeted victims of bullying in the workplace, 62% of the bullies were men, and the majority of the bullies in the workplace were bosses, supervisors, or managers. Common bullying tactics included blaming the target for errors, unreasonable work demands, insults, putdowns, stealing credit, threatening jobs, and discounting accomplishments.