Adult Bullying is Still Alive Today

by Jan 20, 2014

Adult Bullying in Today’s World

Adult bullying seems to be the topic of the news these days. From stories about Governor Chris Christie to children driven to suicide by cyber bullying, it is almost as if bullying is the norm.

I came across the website,, and I found some interesting information I thought was worth sharing.

It would seem normal that as people progress through different stages of life and become mature, they would leave their youth bullying behaviors in the past. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens. Just as children can be bullies, so can adults. Although most adults will more likely resort to verbal bullying rather than physical bullying, the fact is that adult bullying still exists today.

According to the website, there are several types of adult bullies and the way they operate.

Narcissistic Adult Bullying

This form of bullying occurs when the adult is self-centered and doesn’t really care much about the consequences that are to follow. On the outside, this individual feels good about him or herself, but the reality is that they only feel this way because they put others down.

Physical Adult Bullying

Although most cases don’t end up in a physical confrontation, there are still bullies that make threats of physical harm towards the victim. In some cases, physical bullying will include the destruction and damage of a victim’s property rather than physically assaulting the victim to establish a physical dominance.

Verbal Adult Bullying

The scary thing about verbal bullying is that words can be damaging. The bully who uses this tactic will start rumors about the victim in the workplace or even use demeaning language to humiliate the victim. The advantage of this form of bullying is that the bully is difficult to document.

With that said, the emotional and psychological impact on the bullied victim can result in a poor job performance. The victim may even suffer from depression if the abuse continues.

Impulsive Adult Bullying

Bullies in this category bully out of spontaneity and the intentions are less thought out. In certain cases, impulsive bullying could even be unintentional. It may happen out of stress or even an event that has no connection to the victim.

Secondary Adult Bullying

Secondary bullying occurs when a person that didn’t initiate the bullying joins in so that he or she can avoid becoming the next victim. Although secondary bullies often feel bad about their actions, they are more concerned about protecting themselves from becoming the bully’s next victim.

The website concludes with:

“Adult bullies are often in a set pattern. They are not interested in working things out and they are not interested in compromise. Rather, adult bullies are more interested in power and domination. They want to feel as though they are important and preferred, and they accomplish this by bringing others down.”

What are your thoughts? Do you recognize anyone?

Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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