Definitions of Bullying

Definitions of bullying

Definitions of Bullying

Government of Alberta

“Workplace bullying is a repeated pattern of behaviour intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a  particular person or group—the bully’s target. Although it can include physical abuse or the threat of abuse, bullying usually causes psychological rather than physical harm.

Because workplace bullying is often psychological, it can be hard to recognize. The most harmful forms of bullying are usually subtle rather than direct and verbal rather than physical.”

From: Bullies at Work: What to Know, What You Can Do


Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety

“Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could ‘mentally’ hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can involve negative physical contact as well. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.”

From: CCOHS Website


Workplace Bullying Institute

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Offensive conduct/behaviours (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
  • Work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done
  • Is driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individuals(s)
  • Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
  • Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion
  • Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself
  • Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll

From: WBI Website



“Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could “mentally” hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can also involve negative physical contact e.g., pushing, throwing objects”. (OSACH 2009)

“There is growing evidence that exposure to bullying in the workplace has serious detrimental outcomes, not only for the victim, but also for the organization, workplace colleagues and family members of the victims”. (OSACH 2009)

From: WPB Fast Facts


Additional examples of workplace bullying behaviours:

  • Social isolation (silent treatment)
  • Fist shaking/finger pointing
  • Rumours/Gossip
  • Withholding information
  • Excessive or unjustified criticism
  • Withholding job responsibilities
  • Over-monitoring of work
  • Withholding positives
  • Verbal aggression
  • Dishonesty
  • Personal attack of a person’s private life and/or personal attributes
  • Setting unrealistic goals or deadlines/case work size



Bullying may also be known as:

  • Mobbing
  • Moral Harassment
  • Horizontal or lateral violence
  • Psychological Violence
  • Workplace aggression
  • Harassment/Discrimination
  • Victimization
  • Moral Harassment
  • Psychological Harassment
  • Psychological Aggression
  • Social undermining
  • Violence/Assault

“At around 10% of over 4000 cases, social workers and social services employees are the third largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line after teachers (20%) and healthcare employees (12%) and before workers from the voluntary sector (6-8%). In each case, the bully is a serial bully with a history of bullying and  harassment. At least 50% of bullies in the caring professions are female, demonstrating that bullying is not a gender issue.”

From: Bullying Within Social Work