Psychological profile of the workplace bully, in 25 traits
Harassment at work, also known as mobbing , is a phenomenon that can occur at work. It occurs when a harasser (or harassers) exerts violence (usually psychological) repeatedly on one or several victims.
The consequences for the person receiving the harassment are devastating, since mobbing not only causes him/her intense discomfort (sadness, anxiety, insomnia, etc.), but also often destroys his/her reputation.
- If you want to know more about mobbing and its characteristics, you can read this article: “Mobbing: psychological harassment at work”
Tim Field’s profile of the job stalker
Much has been said about what leads a person to become a stalker. In the following lines you can find the personality profile of the job stalker taking into account the opinion of different researchers.
To begin with, it should be noted that one of the first researchers to take an interest in this phenomenon was Tim Field, a British researcher who in 1996 described the workplace bully as
The workplace bully is more likely to tell lies and to change the truth to accuse the victim of all evils . This is a person who is very comfortable in lying, and is characterized by a personality in which he projects a false image of himself.
Being a liar, he easily deceives those around him. That’s why he may seem charming at first, because he hides his true personality .
3. False appearance of security
Workplace bullies may appear to have some self-confidence; however, they hide a low self-esteem . This is partly why they carry out mobbing, to compensate for shortcomings in this respect.
4. Controlling and vindictive
Workplace bullies are often controlling and vindictive. They tend to make life impossible for anyone who gets in their way.
He is usually critical of others, and attacks their weaknesses. These criticisms are never constructive , but harmful and aimed at causing discomfort.
Even though he appears to be a nice person, it’s all a facade. In reality, he’s easily irritable, hiding a great deal of anger inside.
7. Unable to do self-criticism
Although bullies are often critical of others (always in a destructive way), they are not self-critical. On the contrary, they project their failures onto others and use them as scapegoats.
These people are often violent. In large part because they feel frustrated and hide a great deal of anger inside .
More personality traits
Another of the first researchers to study this phenomenon and to draw a profile of a workplace bully was Hirigoyen in 2001. According to her, the job stalker is:
The author calls him a perverse being, with narcissistic features . He seeks to appropriate the image of the victim and reflect his own image in it.
2. Feel pleasure in seeing another suffer
The stalker takes great pleasure in seeing the victim humiliated and enjoys the suffering of the other.
3. No remorse
He’s cruel and doesn’t care about the pain of the victim. Does not feel guilt because he enjoys acting like this.
4. Low self-esteem
He has a large inferiority complex that is a consequence of his low self-esteem. He tries to increase his own value through attacks on the victim.
5. Lack of empathy
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes. The workaholic tends to not put himself in other people’s shoes .
6. Denies reality
Hirigoyen claims that the stalker uses defense mechanisms as a denial of reality .
7. Projects its errors onto the victim
Another defense mechanism that the stalker uses is projection, as he projects his mistakes onto the victim.
Workplace bullies usually show a personality with narcissistic roots, characterized by superficial charm .
The pathological side of the stalker
According to Iñaki Piñuel and Zabala, the workplace bully has a number of characteristics. They are as follows.
1. Repeated harassment
According to this researcher, the workplace harasser is a “serial killer”, since harassing behaviors at work are not isolated, but repeated . In addition, he usually carries out the harassment towards different individuals over the years,
2. Inferiority complex
The stalker’s inferiority complex makes him/her try to increase his/her self-esteem at the expense of others , that is, trying to feel superior to them.
3. Pathological personality
It is relatively common for the stalker to have some pathology, e.g. narcissistic disorder, dissociative disorder, psychopathy or paranoid disorder.
Compensating for deficiencies
Psychiatrist José Luis González de Rivera describes the stalker’s personality as follows:
1. Narcissistic traits
Workplace bullies have narcissistic traits. That is, they feel an excessive sense of grandiosity, think they are special, and try to get their status recognized.
You can delve into the characteristics of narcissistic people with this article: “Narcissistic Personality Disorder: What are narcissistic people like?
2. Paranoid traits
The author also thinks that job bullies have paranoid traits. That is, they are people who feel a great distrust towards others and an intense unfounded anticipation that others want to cause them some harm, show a certain self-centredness and are contemplative, cold and demanding.
Bullies are envious people and have no problem taking what they consider valuable from others .
4. Need for control
They have a great need for control, they do not tolerate frustration and they fear uncertainty
He considers these people to be mediocre, in the sense that they are empty and evil. They have a great desire to be noticed and to influence others.
And how does mobbing affect the victims?
Mobbing, like any other form of harassment, causes serious problems for the victim in both morale and performance at work. Bullying causes:
- Loss of confidence and low self-esteem (both in the person and with respect to his/her work).
- Personality and behavior changes.
- Sleeping difficulties and nightmares.
- Anxiety disorders.
- Feelings of failure and guilt.
- Extreme concern and hypervigilance.
- Depression and sadness.
- Irritability, fatigue and difficulty in concentration.
- Great demotivation for work.
- Emotional mutism and a sense of detachment from others.
- Field, T.(1996): Bully in sight, Wessex Press, Wantage.
- Hirigoyen, M. (2001). Moral harassment at work: distinguishing the true from the false. Pujol i Valls, Núria.
- Piñuel, I. (2001): Mobbing: how to survive psychological harassment at work. Ed. Sal Terrae. Santander.