I recently presented for a group of mental health professionals on persistent workplace aggression.  During the presentation, I really noticed how the participants were struggling with differentiating persistent workplace aggression from conflict.  The two, of course, are very different, but how so?

Everyone in the workplace experiences some sort of conflict.  We all get irritated or upset about something that happens at our jobs.  Most of us have made comments to our co-workers or in a meeting that we later regret.  However, these are most likely part of normal workplace conflict, because these typically get resolved.  We let the issue go and move on. 

Persistent workplace aggression is abusive behavior that happens to a target by one or more perpetrators in the work environment on a regular basis.  A regular basis means that it occurs daily, weekly, and/or monthly.  The aggression is persistent, repeated, and occurs in multiple forms.  It can be verbal, physical, psychological, and/or cyber.  More often than not, aggressors go after the target on several fronts at once.  This means they just don't attack via cyber aggression, but they also weave into their abuse verbal, physical, and/or psychological. 

For example, a target in a week could receive several inappropriate emails from an aggressor while at the same time, the aggressor is spreading rumors about the target.  The next week could consist of the target being yelled at and called names in a meeting while at the same time, the aggressor spreads lies about the target to the supervisor. 

At the height of my own experiences with workplace aggression, I was severely mistreated on a daily basis.  An average day for me consisted of frequent inappropriate emails, hearing people talking about me, refusal of my colleagues to speak to me, and some even would turn around in the hall way when they saw me.  These types of behaviors happened multi-times a day for months on end without any break and I had many aggressors as well. 

Persistent workplace aggression is often compared to domestic violence.  It is certainly abusive behavior.  However, it has been my experience, that workplace aggression rarely, if ever has a honeymoon period.  More often the violence continues frequently and unfortunately gets progressively worse.  Persistent workplace aggression is so much more than conflict in the workplace which is why we must believe targets and begin to address this issue. 

If you or the organization you work for is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there. 



08/31/2016 6:34am

Workplace aggression can cause PTSD. It can turn a productive member of a group into a dysthimic robot who cannot think for himself. He is fueled by fear. This should be addressed because most of the bullies are not as productive as the weak hearted but hardworking victim. Management should always be vigilant.


Workplace aggression should never exist in a workplace environment. Unfortunately, even with corporate policies and guidelines, some employees still show this kind of behavior. In other term, workplace aggression is considered as harassment. It's sad to think that the people you work with everyday will harass you for their own selfish reasons. These employees are working in one company towards one goal so it's kind of ironic that they are the ones tearing each other down when it should be the other way around. Employees should unite and stick up for each other while working towards the success of the company.


When it comes to the working environment, workplace aggression occurs most of the time. This happens when an employee commits mistakes one tends to pick on that employee. Another scenario of workplace aggression is when someone is not in a bad mood and when someone speaks to him, he ends up saying negative thing that can hurt a person's feelings. I think a company should make sure that this does not happen, they should conduct a meeting per department to clear things out. When this continues in a company it can lead to a bigger problem so the right communication is needed in this type of environment.


Excellent posts to read keep it up and keep going on this way. And keep sharing these types of things Thanks

07/28/2017 6:19pm

Thank you very much, it's very important issue for us.


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