In the United States alone, 60.3 million people have experienced workplace bullying. Many of these targets ask the question, “why me?”.
Even though victims of bullying come from different backgrounds, they often have characteristics in common that make them a target. Below you will find four of the most common characteristics that help a bully determine their next target.
Someone who makes the bully feel insecure.
Bullies like to target people who a threat to them in the workplace. Often a bully’s target is intelligent, creative, innovative, and goes the extra mile in their role. People who are hardworking and excel at what they do, make a bully feel that their own skills are pale in comparison. In the attempt to elevate their own status, a bully will push others down.
Someone who is vulnerable.
Bullies like to seek out opportunities where they are instantly in power. Coworkers who are less likely to retaliate, confront or report are an optimal target for a bully. This being said, a bully will look for those with a non confrontational personality. Someone who is quiet, passive, and someone who doesn’t have a lot of friends.
Bullies will make a beeline for those who don’t have strong relationships with other co-workers. Typically these targets are employees that are inexperienced, older or those who may be struggling with depression and/or anxiety disorders.
Someone who everyone likes.
Not all targets of bullying are social outcasts. Bullies will often target employees who are well-liked and popular in the office. Bullies see these people as a threat to their social status. More often than not, it is women who target other women for this reason.
Over 70% of female executives have felt like they have been bullied by other women in the workplace. This has been labeled as “Queen Bee Syndrome”, and it has been described as one of the biggest hindrances to women advancing in the workplace.
Someone who looks different.
Unfortunately, the same reasons why elementary kids bully one another is still evident in adulthood. A bully will look for someone who stands out such as someone with a weight problem, a prominent scar, or someone who is unusually tall or short.
Additionally, research has shown that race has an effect on bullying in the workplace. Hispanics and African-Americans are two of the highest reported races to be bullied.
Although you might not be able to change a bully, your personality, or the way you look, you can change the way you react to a workplace bully and their actions. Stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid to report a bully when their behavior goes too far.