Don’t worry – we’re not about to blame you for being a workplace bullying target. Just the opposite. It’s narcissism that’s the root of why bullies bully. And when those in power operate on jealousy and insecurity, their biggest threats are the ones with targets on their backs.
Your strength is a threat
“Targets’ strengths threaten bullies,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) based on findings in their 2012 poll. “Technical prowess and personal popularity posed a threat to their bully (chosen by 34.5 percent of respondents).”
Other reasons why you’re a target
Nearly 39 percent of respondents — around the number of respondents who said target strength was the reason they’re targeted — cited factors outside of targets’ control as the reason for the bullying: personality of the bully, instigator of a mob, and organizational incentives.
About 28 percent of respondents said that bullies perceive a vulnerability in targets. Bullies consider targets weak and not political game players.
These other reasons might cause you to feel flawed and weak. But don’t let them. Vulnerability is never a weakness. It’s a strength. Narcissists are terrified of vulnerability. And while a certain level of political game-playing may be necessary at work, focusing entirely on politics detracts from your greater purpose at work: to work together toward a common vision as a team.
The bottom line
Narcissists view work differently than you do because they’re insecure. That’s it. There is NOTHING you can do to change them. While we may post articles about how you can react to a bully, we simply suggest coping strategies to address the problem: the bully. Whether or not our suggested tactics work have nothing to do with any flaws in you and everything to do with getting you to a healthier place when dealing with these abusive bosses. You are not the problem.
Their insecurities are not your flaws.
Simply put, to end workplace bullying, we focus on the actual root of the problem: the bullies. Why? We keep the focus on the bullies as the problem — not how targets react or what personality traits might be flawed (especially since it’s the strengths of the target that puts him or her at risk).
Why bullies bully
Sociopaths can’t empathize (put themselves in others’ shoes) because they’re so completely cut off from their own emotions — particularly fear, hurt, and vulnerability, which they see as a shameful weakness. “If you can’t feel your own emotions, you can’t resonate and empathize with the emotions of other people,” says Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author of The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me World.
More on why a bully bullies: