A review of the research suggests there are three reasons individuals become targets of workplace bullying:

1. Being outside of the group. Differences in age, race, gender, ethnicity, and educational levels may intensify conflicts and increase bullying behaviors because people do not understand the motivations and actions of people who are perceived as different.

2. Having low self-esteem and social competence.  Individuals who lack self-confidence or sufficient conflict management skills are more likely to be targets of workplace bullying, and;

3.  being an overachiever. People who are characterized as overachievers may  fall prey to a workplace bully because the bully feels threatened by the target’s competence. Bullying may result from a manager’s need to boost his or herself worth and undermine a subordinate as a result of feeling envious of a subordinate’s talents or work ethic.

Additionally, organizational changes, cultures, and leadership styles often contribute to the pervasiveness of bullying behaviors. For instance, restructuring, downsizing, and mergers mean people are often asked to do more with fewer resources.

* Source: A. Georgakopoulos et al, Workplace Bullying: A Complex Problem in Contemporary Organizations, 2 International Journal of Business and Social Science 3, Special Issue – January 2011.



  1. I remained independent, refused to be controlled. (70%)
  2. My competence and reputation were threatening. (67%)
  3. The Bully’s personality. (59%)
  4. My being liked by co-workers and customers. (47%)
  5. In retaliation for my reporting unethical or illegal conduct, whistleblowing. (38%)
  6. I was focused solely on work and ignored the politics. 36%)
  7. Bully had personal problems. (35%)
  8. I am nonconfrontative and easily overrun by others. (33%)
  9. I was at a time of personal medical or life vulnerability or changes. (30%)
  10. I could not afford to leave the job and the bully knew it. (30%)

*Survey by Workplace Bullying Institute (2003)(non-scientific sample of 1,000 volunteer respondents who visited WBI web site).

0 thoughts on “WHY ME?”

  1. Thank you very much Patricia for creating this site. I see a slow and steady turn toward common sense action by lawmakers. It is very evident that people who are interested in harming another person at work will continue to do this until lawmakers force employers to sit up, take notice and act. We should not have to worry about these folks bringing their vile baggage into the workplace and dropping it off on our psyche.

    Workplace bullying/harassment casts a shadow over the victim that does not go ever go away. Everything in life is experienced in terms of before and after the bullying experience. It is a permanent stamp forced on the victim. Unless you are interested or even willing to get down into the dirt with the bullies and use the worst profanity and threats and insults and such, you will be completely damaged; very probably even if you do go there with them and play the game fighting back.

    Victims would most all rather not even be taken there. We are interested in working and accomplishing goals and having dignity and happiness. We don’t want to have this terrible and horrific experience tatood on the fabric of our being until death.

    It’s strange, we teach our children and even adults to walk away from confrontation, or if you see trouble to cross the street. What do we do when we cross the street and even pick up the pace and it follows and catches up with us and nobody will help us evade it. HR does nothing and laws say that human emotional health is able to handle constant blows and chipping away without consequence. We know that this is not true. Emotional health is wired into our very being. We can turn away and try and block out traumatic events such as confrontation and harassment but it will catch up with us and is ever-present.

    I hope we all as a society get a clue and lawmakers support citizens.

  2. By the way, I’d gotten carried away due to my horrific current experience. I love your reasons shown above. These are all very very accurate and so true. YES, in my case reasons 1-10 are all very true, not one, but ALL of them. My goodness, how insightful. I was not sure folks knew, or could see and call out these reasons. The percentages shown are right on as well.

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