Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Christensen’


WBI Survey: Impugning the Integrity of Targets of Workplace Bullying

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

ARE BULLIED TARGETS BELIEVED?
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – F

People who find themselves trapped in a bullying scenario can attest to the crazymaking, irrational nature of the mistreatment. Much of the harm caused by the abusive conduct stems from the shattering of targets’ beliefs about fairness, fairness in the work world specifically. First, they are typically the high performers who unknowingly trigger the envy of perpetrators. Targets are aware of their work skill at a deep personal ontological level. Perpetrators come into their lives who determined to reject the agreed-upon perceptions of the targets’ skills. There are objective truths, a reality.

When Bullies are Bosses

Perpetrators often use their formal (by organizational rank) or informal power to state the obviously opposite perception about technically skilled targets. Though this defies reality, they convince organizational allies to believe them and not targets.

In simplest form, it becomes a “he said, he said” deadlock. But most bullies who are bosses rely on support from higher up to add weight to their side.

The shrewdest perpetrators use ingratiation over many years to convince their executive sponsors (their enablers) that they, the bullies, are indispensable. Further, if and when they are described as abusive or destructive by one or more targets in the future, the executive will defend her or his “indispensable” perp by ignoring the target’s portrayal of a friend and colleague.

Thus conditions are not favorable when targets report the facts about what they have experienced at the hands of the favored perpetrator. After all, targets do bring negative news about people who typically outrank them.

When Bullies are Coworkers

In situations where targets have multiple perpetrators, there are many individuals who can provide accounts of alleged bullying incidents that will be at odds with what targets say happened.

For targets bullied by a gang of coworkers (cliques and mobs also are apt descriptions), it is doubly negative. Not only do they outnumber the target, the target is deprived of the chance to have her or his story corroborated by coworkers. Though few coworkers ever step up to offer support to targets, some do. When coworkers are the bullies, the potential source of support is lost.

Gullible investigators (typically working inside the organization for another department) will have their judgement swayed by many against one, and believe the tale that many tell even if those versions are not true.

The Effects of Not Being Believed

For targets, it’s a matter of honor and integrity. Repeated studies have shown that targets claim that their honesty is one of the major reasons for being targeted for abuse. They do seem to be very principled, non-political workers.

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WBI Survey: Personal Attributes of Bullied Targets at Work

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES OF BULLIED TARGETS AT WORK
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – A

Since the start of WBI, we have been conversing with bullied targets who telephone us for advice. Over 10,000 targets have taught us their world from the inside. Previously WBI identified in an online study (WBI, 2003) a set of personal attributes that targets themselves said was the reason they were bullied. That list included being independent, possessing more technical skill than their bully, being liked by peers, an ethicality and honesty the bully did not have and being apolitical — not willing or able to play the game of organizational politics.

Some academic researchers, especially those in business schools who tend to adopt management as their referential lens through which they interpret bullying, investigate factors such as “victim precipitation” or the “provocative victim.” In other words, attributes of targets are seen as causal; it’s a way to blame targets for their fate. It implies that a rational person, when confronted with such provocateurs, would engage in anti-social actions against them because they somehow “deserved it.”

Clearly, no one deserves to be abused and suffer the type of health harm bullying generates. On this all good people should be able to agree.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

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Workplace Bullying: About U.S. Bullied Targets

Monday, July 28th, 2014


ABOUT BULLIED TARGETS in 2014

Finally, we asked the American public what type of person is targeted for abusive mistreatment in the workplace. Though this was a short, not exhaustive, list of personality traits, the results are clear. Those who claimed to have been aware that workplace bullying happens, believe that the overwhelming majority of individuals targeted possess positive attributes.

That is, the same respondents who believed that targets are mostly incapable of defending themselves against bullying assaults believe targets are kind, cooperative and agreeable. Perhaps these same traits render the guileless person vulnerable to unpredictable attacks. This Survey does not provide a way to draw the causal link between the traits and targets’ ability to defend themselves.

It is noteworthy that only 6% of targets are considered abusers themselves.

Question: Which personal style best describes the targeted person?

Download the About Bullied Targets mini-Report

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Gary Namie, PhD, Research Director
Research Assistants: Daniel Christensen & David Phillips

© 2014, Workplace Bullying Institute, All Rights Reserved

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Workplace Bullying: Causal Factors in the U.S.

Monday, July 21st, 2014

CAUSAL FACTORS in 2014

Two questions explored with varying levels of accuracy the public explanation for why bullying happens.

In the better of the two Survey items, we asked respondents to choose one primary factor or reason for the bullying.

Question: Which one factor is most responsible for abusive mistreatment at work?

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Workplace Bullying: Support for U.S. Laws

Monday, July 14th, 2014


SUPPORT FOR A LAW in 2014

Question: Do you support or oppose enactment of a new law that would protect all workers from repeated abusive mistreatment in addition to protections against illegal discrimination and harassment?

The respondents who answered this question were individuals who were directly bullied, those who had witnessed it, the few who were perpetrators, and those with no personal experience but who believed it happened and those who believed it was exaggerated. Those groups taken together constituted the American public who were “aware” of abusive conduct at work, the 72% (See National Prevalence).

It is clear that those respondents, the American public aware of abusive conduct, want to see worker protections extended beyond the anti-discrimination statutes – 93% support specific anti-bullying legislation.

Furthermore, 50% of Survey respondents self-defined as Conservatives strongly support the Healthy Workplace Bill. With such little opposition from
those expected to oppose the bill, it is a certain conclusion that now is the time for passage of this new law.


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Workplace Bullying: What Stops U.S. Bullying

Monday, June 16th, 2014

WHAT STOPPED THE BULLYING in 2014

Question: What stopped the abusive mistreatment?


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Workplace Bullying: U.S. Coworkers’ Actions

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

COWORKER REACTION TO BULLYING in 2014

Results from several WBI online surveys of bullied targets reliably show that coworkers rarely help their bullied colleagues. Several social psychological processes operate in the group setting to explain the failure to act prosocially.

The perspective of the general public captured in this national Survey describes circumstances somewhat more positively than surveys of bullied targets. We believe the reference to “most of the witnesses” led to these inexplicable results. The flaw is in the design of the question.

Doing nothing was the most cited tactic. Of course, doing nothing to help colleagues when they are distressed is not a neutral act. It is negative. However, it is not the same as betraying the target by siding with the perpetrator(s). Negative actions were taken in 49% of cases.

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Workplace Bullying: U.S. Employers’ Reactions

Monday, May 19th, 2014




EMPLOYER REACTION TO BULLYING in 2014

In 2014 at the time of the Survey, there was no state or federal law yet enacted to compel American employers to address abusive conduct that occurred outside the limited definitions of illegal discriminatory actions. The absence of a law means that employers may tolerate misconduct without legal risk. Of course, repeated abusive conduct, as defined in the prevalence question, does prove costly for employers who choose to ignore it. Tangible costs include unwanted turnover of key skilled personnel, absenteeism, higher insurance costs (health and employment practices liability), and litigation expenses. Intangible costs include: damage to institutional reputation and an impaired ability to recruit and retain the best talent.

A rational employer would seek to minimize preventable costs and strive to eliminate demonstrable abusive conduct. A 2013 WBI poll conducted by Zogby of Business Leaders, CXO-level corporate leaders, showed that 68% of executives considered “workplace bullying a serious problem.” And according to this current 2014 Survey, 48% of Americans are affected by bullying. Given the confluence of this awareness, we asked the public how employers were voluntarily dealing with bullying without needing to comply with laws.

Question: What do you know to be the most common American employer reaction to complaints of abusive conduct (when it is not illegal discrimination)?


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Workplace Bullying: Race, Ideology, and the U.S. Bullying Experience

Monday, May 12th, 2014

RACE AND THE BULLYING EXPERIENCE in 2014

Below are the percentages within each ethnic group that had been bullied, witnessed it and the combined percentage to represent those “affected” by bullying.


The overall percentage of those affected was 47.7%. All three non-White groups had much higher rates than the U.S. percentage. Hispanics were the highest; African-Americans were second. Non-White respondents are considered to be members of legally protected status groups. Employers have to comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws. That is, when they endure harassment, they would be eligible to demand protection from their employers in most situations.
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Workplace Bullying: Perpetrator Rank & Number in the U.S.

Monday, April 28th, 2014

PERPETRATOR RANK & NUMBER in 2014

Mobbing was the term adopted by Heinz Leymann to describe health-harming abusive conduct at work. Mobbing implies multiple perpetrators. Mobbing preceded the term workplace bullying. However, WBI has consistently defined bullying as committed by one or more persons. Bullying nearly always escalates to more than one person joining the main instigator to torment the target.

Question: Who was (were) the principal perpetrator(s)?



Respondents said the following:

In 14% of cases, the bullying was generated by a combination of perpetrators operating at different levels of the organization – bosses, peers, and subordinates.

With respect to perpetrator’s rank, not counting the combined sources cases:


This pattern is consistent with previous WBI national Surveys.

No interactions between rank and race or rank and gender were found.

When perpetrators enjoy a higher organizational rank than targets, opportunities to abuse authority present themselves. Further, the likelihood of targets being able to confront the boss about her or his unacceptable conduct approaches zero, given the difficulty of crossing the “power gradient.” Coworker, peer-to-peer, bullying may not involve power differences, but the health harm caused by social exclusion/ostracism that peers employ poses an equal, if not greater, threat to the target’s safety.

Download the Perpetrator Rank & Number mini-Report
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Gary Namie, PhD, Research Director
Research Assistants: Daniel Christensen & David Phillips

© 2014, Workplace Bullying Institute, All Rights Reserved

Download the complete Report | Access individual sections of the Report

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