Compliments of Ian Ransley via Flickr

Employees like to be in charge, acting as independent free agents who chart their own course. Coaches/mentors who develop peers can make this happen – whereas neglectful, emotionally abusive supervisors leave the same workplace remnants as do ineffectual caretakers at home (Kampen, 2015). Toxic coworkers refuse to take responsibility. These same bullies wear blinders that circumvent reflection, recognition, reformation, and that encourage them to blame their targets for blowups as they self-righteously broadcast feelings post incident. At work, emotional abuse emanates from terrorizing, threat-based climates, rejection (reprimands, put-downs), and manipulation/exploitation (Kampen, 2015), in cultures where “[there is] . . . a lot of management, but a lack of leadership” (Kampen & Henken, 2017).

Those in charge perpetuate abuse when they ignore it, they encourage it, or when they do it. Two signs of neglect include reluctance (on the part of both managers and employees) to confront office culprits, and employee avoidance of their direct supervisors at all costs – either as a result of past abuse, or from a failure to receive problem resolution. Bosses foment wrongdoing when they are afraid to confront bullies, and remain tight-lipped (Kampen, 2015), or when they ignore, rationalize, and excuse bad behavior (e.g., “we do that to everyone”). Neglect can also be the result of “supervisor centered management,” in which bosses institute strict sanctions that are disproportionate to the infraction at hand (Kampen, 2015).

Where neglect is rampant abusers are indifferent – even when confronted with the evidence of their misdeeds. Conditions that perpetuate backbiting and workplace backstabbing include the unwillingness (or inability) of wrongdoers to learn, and to self-reflect – because there are no incentives/carrots or sticks/policies in place. Bullies are rewarded and the bullied run for cover from coworkers who proclaim their dominance; according to Kampen (2015, p. 82) “. . . denial is a part of the pattern of neglect.” Negligent corporate and nuclear families are characterized by a lack of reciprocity, “insensitivity,” and a desire to maintain the status quo (Kampen & Henken, 2017) no matter what.

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce Blog explains there are three top reasons contributing to workplace stress; these include:

  • Unsupportive boss
  • Toxic coworkers, and
  • Lack of praise and recognition

It suggests that supervisors should, “Practice a culture of positivity in the workplace. Work with other managers and leaders to cultivate an office culture that doesn’t tolerate gossip, rudeness or being unprofessional.”


Kampen, J. (2015). Emotional abuse and neglect in the workplace. Palgrave Macmillan: The United Kingdom.

Kampen, J., & Henken, A. (2017). Organizational Dynamics.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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