According to WBTI research, 71 percent of bullies are in higher positions in comparison to their targets (Namie, 2003). Most bullies in the workplace have been reported to be bosses or superiors. A small proportion of bullies (4 percent according to the American Psychiatric Association) may have genuinely disordered personalities – antisocial or narcissistic, but the rest are simply scheming competitors who exploit their obliging targets (Salmivalli, 2009). There are four categories of bullies based on the tactics used when abusing targets in the workplace:
1. The Screaming Mimi
This type of bully typically manipulates the state of emotion for everybody in the office. This bully would disrupt the mood of the office with unpredictable mood swings and publicly embarrassed the target to show his/her power. He/She would stop short of physical violence, but is so volatile that the target would fear him/her the most.
2. The Constant Critic
This type of bully is a super-critical nitpicker. This bully would obsess over even the most miniscule details of the target’s work and would resorts to name calling if necessary. This bully also complains a lot about everyone else’s ‘incompetence’ and prefers to belittle the target behind closed door.
This type of bully likes to climb up the organization rankings and reserve brutality for those below. This bully reduces the reputation of targets to boost their own self-image. He/She would spread rumors divide and conquer the staffs, and try to turn co-workers against the target.
4. The Gatekeeper
This type of bully likes to control the target with as much restrictions (time, money, etc) as possible to ensure the target’s failure. Therefore, this bully would have a reason to complain about the ‘performance issues’ with the target (Namie, 2003).
In the meantime, individuals who lack self-confidence or sufficient conflict management skills are likely to be targets of workplace bullying. Studies investigating the causes of bullying at work found that people who avoid conflicts and lack social skills are the ones that most likely being a target of bullying (Zapf, 1999; Coyne et al., 2000). People who are characterized as overachievers may also fall prey to a workplace bully because the bully may feel threatened by the target’s competence (Zapf & Einarsen, 2003).