Who Gets Targeted
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/her mind, but it is what he/she feels and believes.
WBI research findings from our year 2000 study and conversations with thousands of targets have confirmed that 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 greater emotional intelligence. They have empathy (even for their bullies). Colleagues, customers, and management (with exception to 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 people with personalities founded on a prosocial orientation -- a desire to help, heal, teach, develop, nurture others.
Targets are non-confrontive. They do not respond to aggression with aggression. (They are thus morally superior.) But the price paid for apparent submissiveness is that the bully can act with impunity (as long as the employer also does nothing).
According to the 2007 WBI-Zogby Survey, 45% of targeted individuals suffer stress-related health problems. Additional findings regarding targets' health can be found in WBI research and the PTSD-related research by others posted at this site.
Read our checklist of common signs of bullying.