Workplace bullying strategies and tactics: An updated round-up

Two years ago, I did a quick little round-up of common strategies and tactics employed by workplace aggressors, as discussed in various articles here. It’s time for an updated version. I’ve included short snippets for each; please click on the topics to read the original posts.

Blackballing (2015)

“Blackballing is a prime form of eliminationist behavior. It also is awfully hard to detect and trace, because it typically occurs under the cloak of confidentiality and private communications.”

Button pushing (2014)

“Workplace aggressors are often experts at button pushing. They know how to get a rise out of someone, and if it causes the target to say or do something that gives the aggressors even more of an upper hand, then all the better.”

Gossip (2014)

“If gossip is for the purpose of maliciously trashing someone’s reputation and pushing them out of the workplace, then the situation may be part of a bullying or mobbing campaign.”

Superficial civility enabling bullying (2014)

“But at times, the organizational embrace of a superficial brand of civility can advantage those who engage in bullying, harassment, or discrimination at work.”

Bullies claiming victim status (2013)

“We’ve seen it countless times: Workplace bullies claiming to be the victims of workplace bullying.”

Splitting (2013)

“Eddy describes splitting in work settings as a personal and hostile process that promotes extreme, all-or-nothing positions and ‘often involves projection,’ i.e., tagging “’others as being divisive and inappropriate in the ways that they are actually being divisive and inappropriate themselves.'”

Gaslighting (2012)

“Gaslighting at work can range from orchestrated, manipulative aggressor-to-target behaviors, to HR officers expressing faux incredulity in response to claims of abusive mistreatment.”

“Puppet master” bullying vs. mobbing (2012)

“Let’s start with what I call puppet master bullying. In these situations, a chief aggressor’s power and influence over a group of subordinates may be sufficient to enlist their participation in mistreating a target, creating what looks and feels like a mob.”

Workplace cyber-bullying (2012)

“A new study of British university employees concludes that targets of workplace cyberbullying often fare worse than those who experience traditional bullying.

Making targets disappear (2011)

“Bad organizations choose to ‘forget’ less flattering events of their institutional history, especially those that conflict with their self-generated mythologies. Sometimes that process requires them to create new unpersons out of individuals associated with those events.”

7 responses

  1. Pingback: Workplace bullying strategies and tactics: An updated round-up | Substantial Disruption

  2. Excellent overview of some of the more insidious tactics. I’d add abuse of established processes as well- I was subjected to “progressive discipline” for getting irritable while working 60-80 hours on the night shift (condoned by a collective agreement that allowed 12 hour shifts and bi-weekly averaging) while my accusers worked straight day rotations with no more than 3 consecutive 12 hour shifts.

    Somehow I don’t think the problem was my unbearably flawed character.

  3. Very interesting list. Despite working in a large organization for years, I noticed a few types never encountered before. Or should I say, never experienced them myself personally.

    But for as long as big groups of people are clustered together for what seems like a common purpose, each remains their own entity driven by ambition, fear or both so clashes are virtually inevitable.

  4. A comprehensive summary of the tactics some workplace bullies use. I think cyber-bullying is one of the leading tactics that workplaces must monitor carefully. The popularity of social media continues to rise as does the time we spend on it. I do believe it could be worse than traditional forms of bullying as it can happen at any time- extending beyond the workplace. More effort and regulations need to be implemented to prevent the occurrence of cyber-bullying.

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