The WBI Definition of Workplace Bullying
Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:
- Is driven by perpetrators' need to control the targeted individual(s).
- Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
- Requires consequences for the targeted individual
- Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
- Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies' personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
- Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.
Read more about Bullying in comparison to Schoolyard Bullying, Workplace Violence and Incivility.
Synonyms that reflect the seriousness of bullying: Psychological Violence, Psychological Harassment, Personal Harassment, 'Status-Blind' Harassment, Mobbing, Emotional Abuse at Work
Euphemisms intended to trivialize bullying and its impact on bullied people: Incivility, Disrespect, Difficult People, Personality Conflict, Negative Conduct, Ill Treatment
Not calling bullying "bullying," in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of those who made the bullying possible, is a disservice to bullied individuals whose jobs, careers, and health have been threatened as the result. Tom Engelhardt said it wisely when he said, "Words denied mean analyses not offered, things not grasped, surprise not registered, strangeness not taken in, all of which means that terrible mistakes are repeated, wounding ways of acting in the world never seriously reconsidered. The words' absence chains you to the present, to what's accepted and acceptable."
The Relation to Domestic Violence
Being bullied at work most closely resembles the experience of being a battered spouse. The abuser inflicts pain when and where she or he chooses, keeping the target (victim) off balance knowing that violence can happen on a whim, but dangling the hope that safety is possible during a period of peace of unknown duration. The target is kept close to the abuser by the nature of the relationship between them -- husband to wife or boss to subordinate or co-worker to co-worker.
Read more about domestic violence and bullying.