The persistent workplace aggressive environment is almost always stacked against the target. Target is the most frequently used term to identify a person who is the victim of workplace aggression.  But is the language we are using to identify workers who suffer from bullying harmful? 

People already have very strong convictions and preconceived notions about the type of person who falls prey to workplace aggression. They are frequently unwilling to hear an alternative perspective because these beliefs are so ingrained into them and their organizations.  These ideas are victim-blaming and consist of targets having personality flaws or weaknesses in performing their jobs. Essentially, the targets deserve what is happening to them. 

Another reason these preconceived notions are solidified into people’s beliefs are because it is a self-protection mechanism. Bullying is something that happens to “those people” and most workers believe they are not flawed so they are not at risk for bullying. This is comforting thought.

Using the term target confirms these preconceived ideas. It implies there are distinguishing characteristics that put a bulls-eyes or “target” on that person. This mark identifies them as the victim and reinforces that there is something wrong with the target.

The reality is that anyone in a persistent workplace aggressive is at-risk of being victimized (Check out my featured article about this ). There are all types of people who become the target of workplace abuse.

Words matter in a toxic environment and anything that can be done to stop the vilification of targets is important. As such, I propose that new terminology be used that will identify workers who are experiencing bullying. The terms receiver and recipient are neutral and reinforce that abuse is done to a worker. They are not marked nor did they do anything to become victimized. They are the receivers and the recipients of persistent workplace aggression.  This change in language will challenge views on who gets bullied at work and will help people to review their preconceived notions.  We must remember that when aggression is plaguing our workplaces, we can all be receiver and recipients of bullying. 

I would like to say thank you to all who proposed and gave me ideas for the new terminology. 

If you are 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.



06/14/2017 9:50pm

I don't see anything wrong with that. We need to make terms for things to be more understandable. I think calling a bullied person a "target" is not harmful. It just depends solely on the person perceiving it. I hope that the bullying in our state will decrease in the future.


The more you call them the target, the higher the likeliness that they will get bullied more. Let us not see them the way bullies see them. Let us look at them differently. Let us see them as people who are capable of standing up for themselves and speaking up. Let us see them as people who are worthy to be respected.

06/23/2017 2:44am

For me, I think people that are bullied may not be considered harmful in the work place. They are the victims when they are in high school or college. Stating to them that they are harmful will surely make their lives horrible and miserable. For me, I met some people that are bullied and I say that they are very kind and easily appreciate some things that you will give to them. I hope that this comment will make your perspective change somehow and get some look to the perspective of the people that are getting bullied.

09/20/2017 2:06am

Being a positive removes many problems from your life.


Nice post, thanks for sharing.


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