Learned childhood behaviour, a personality defect, even mental illness creates this type of workplace bully. They are by far the most dangerous, with a target always in their sights. Peter Randall, in his book Bullying in Adulthood, explains that he believes chronic bullies do not process social information accurately and seem to make unrealistic judgements about other people’s intentions. They conceptualise themselves as being superior and powerful. Some think this type of bully is not capable of empathy.
The Opportunistic Workplace Bully
This individual is highly self-centred, ambitious, and prepared to win at any cost, which means controlling everything and everyone on his/her way to success. Targets are chosen to ensure that contacts, situations and exposures are maximised to get ahead. They will exploit weaknesses of any kind. However, with strong enough management that expressly rejects bad behaviour towards others, they can be contained and their energy used positively. While they can exhibit similar behaviour to the chronic bully, they tend to be driven more from their own personal ambition than a psychological defect.
The Situational (Accidental) Workplace Bully
These bullies take advantage of a situation, especially if there is a history of bullying, dictator-style management, weak leadership and/or poorly defined or hierarchical organisation structures. They are likely to join the pack and become involved in ‘mobbing’ one or more individuals lower down the hierarchy. They will often use a chronic bully’s power base to elevate them to a position of importance.