Bullying Behaviors

Workplace Conflicts including Abrasive Behaviors & Bullying

Is this familiar?  

Your workplace is a nightmare of threats, intimidation, sabotage and humiliation. You experience relief every Friday and then find Sunday night is a personal nightmare anticipating Monday in the office. This fear and anxiety is the result of someone or some few who seem to have made it their business to make your life miserable. You are being screamed at, betrayed, lied about by your colleagues. People withholding critical information you need to complete your projects. You pay the consequences in missed days at work, health, and emotional problems. And, finally, you feel trapped and without options.  

If this scenario is familiar, then you experience what millions and millions of other experience, workplace bullying behaviors

What is Workplace Bullying?

HRMagazine defined bullying as repeated nonphysical, health-impairing psychological mistreatment… 

Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines workplace bullying as the repeated, malicious, health-endangering mistreatment of one employee by one or more employees. 

These are very general descriptions of a potentially huge range of behaviors. The HRMagazine definition focuses on the psychological impact of some emotional mistreatment and the WBI definition focuses on that but adds the cause – ‘malicious’ to the definition.  

These definitions are generic and, while helpful, miss some of the nuance of workplace conflicts, including bullying, and so HIDE our OPTIONS. No one size fits all in either explaining or halting workplace conflicts.  

What is needed is a more comprehensive perspective on what causes workplace conflict so that we can pick the best strategies for responding.  

Four Types of Workplace Abrasive and Bullying Behaviors

 1.  Abrasive Behaviors 


Many people are abrasive, not bullies but abrasive. Abrasive people are unpleasant to be around, unpredictable, and difficult but their behavior is not intentional. Abrasive people tend to be abrasive with everyone: team members, colleagues, everyone around them feels their abrasiveness. Abrasive people don’t understand how their behavior is impacting productivity. Because they don’t intend to be abrasive, they respond well to specialized coaching that helps them to develop insights into their own behavior. 

 2.  Malicious Bullying 

A person seems to be prejudiced, racist or sexist and picks on one person at a time with what seems like sadistic behaviors. This one-on-one behavior is seems irrational and confusing. 

 3.  Malicious Ganging or Mobbing 

A group decides to push someone out of organization. This feels irrational and is predictable for those breaking stereotypes of any form. 

 4. Strategic or Instrumental Aggression 

One person picks on another person or persons to create a hostile environment for the express purpose of eliminating that person from any perceived or real competition. This is the most serious type of bullying because it has profound consequences for your career and it’s often in highly competitive organizations that reward only a few of many. But it is also the type of behavior you can battle. 

Kathleen Bartle, PCC has dedicated over 20 years of her professional career to understanding and helping end workplace conflicts. Her proprietary approaches to conflict and her coaching insights create a unique opportunity for company officials to really do something helpful to end conflicts and save $$.  

Workplace conflicts are enormously expensive. Costs include lowered productivity, increased absenteeism, higher medical costs, and higher turnover

Here is a worksheet for you to measure some of the obvious costs of workplace conflict.