Bullying is commonly identified with the abuse of visible power. We close our eyes and we see the image of a big aggressive character bearing down on a little guy in a threatening manner.

In the workplace context, this translates into other familiar images of bullying –  always from above. On a Dubai building site, it might be a large group of workers ganging-up on a smaller group. On a UK factory floor, it might be a foreman picking on some nervous victim who can’t bring himself to retaliate. In boardrooms everywhere, victimisation may take more subtle forms, less violent but no less hurtful, with endless opportunities for a bully-boy director to use his seniority. And of course, bullying with a sexual or racial slant has been attracting much media attention all over the world. But whatever the image of bullying, it always suggests a downward impact from a position of physical or hierarchical power. Continue reading