In The Bullyologist, I devote an entire chapter to the many myths and stereotypes associated with bullying. Probably the most common misconception is that a typical bullying target is weak, timid or unable to stand up for themselves. This isn’t true at all.
A weak person doesn’t threaten a bully’s position of power – a confident, positive, efficient and collaborative one does. For example, during my own workplace bullying experience, I was singled out because I was young, female, supportive of my colleagues and good at my job. It was my strengths that frustrated my bully most.
My bully felt threatened because he wasn’t the ‘go-to’ person in the office but everyone avoided him because his default approach was bluster and intimidation. The negative effects of his behaviours on the workforce were compounded by ineffectual leadership from above, so reporting him to the higher-ups had limited success.
Bullying is about power and control and the weak have no power to usurp. It’s the strong who pose the greatest threat, because they’re more likely to expose the bully’s most glaring personal and professional shortcomings.
Have you ever been targeted for bullying because of your strengths?
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Jessica Hickman is a professional member of these associations: