Increasingly we hear horror stories about bullies our children are facing on busses, in school hallways and the playground. Now, in the digital age, there seems to be no end to how quickly and how far and wide abuse can be spread. It’s made me weep to hear of the disfiguring acts like throwing acid on a pretty girl’s face or the “targeted weakling” that was set on fire; nearly killing him. And most recently was the gut wrenching story of a young Irish student, a beautiful teen, who was bullied so brutally that to stop the pain she took her life. This morning I heard of yet another incident where a father entered a school bus to confront the bullies that were terrorizing his special needs daughter. Yes, he was threatening and now faces 4 months incarceration, but when does the abuse stop and who is responsible? The family? The school authorities? The legal system?
That leads me to today’s topic. Bullies in the workplace! Oh yes they do exist and these are most likely the bullies that were the same abusers as children. Some are more passive than others, but they certainly do exist and they certainly need to be dealt with.
Do you have co-workers who constantly tell you how to do your job? Do they criticize your work while bragging about their performance, which is actually mediocre at best? Do they take credit for your ideas and diminish your authority? If so, you’re probably dealing with a workplace bully.
Office bullies are basically those with behavioral problems and have been ALLOWED to run amok. Understanding what’s at play can help you feel better and survive, if not thrive.
The Basic Office Bully Personality Types:
1) The Alpha Dog. One quick growl and everyone takes heed. They know if they don’t it’s only going to be worse so they submit to this personality type
Figure out who the alpha dog is in your office. It may not be “the boss.” It could be the assistant or the VP. Determine their ego needs–flattery, reliability, staying late–and give it to them. Although I hate to say it, if you can learn how to fake sincerity with these people, it’ll make your life easier.
2) The Territorial Kingdom Builder. Ever wonder why organizations have departments? Because different employees have different skills and serve different functions? Yes that’s part of it, but there’s more to it.
The “kings” and “queens” in your office are territorial creatures. When others encroach upon their territory, they get take any steps they see as necessary to maintain their authority.
We’re all territorial to some degree, but the bully takes it too far! Do you have co-workers who tell you how to do your job? Do they offer unsolicited advice, even when they’re ignorant on the subject? It’s a lateral land grab and we may or may not take action to keep our “territory”. This is normal to a degree, but the difference is highly aggressive bullying-type behavior and an indication of territorial dominance, anxiety and insecurity. The bully may even try to tell you they are “just trying to help.”
3) The Blamer. This person’s game is distraction through detraction. They trash you and tell you how you should be doing your job in order to draw attention away from their ineptitude and incompetence. This is a common tactic of the workplace bully. You know this is occurring when the facts don’t back up their allegations. Furthermore, when you challenge them with the facts, they make up the craziest points to refute them.
I once worked with a guy who was a master of this technique. Unfortunately, it was the only thing he’d mastered. He made noisy, unfounded public disparaging remarks about my department; meanwhile, every business deal he made cost the company money instead of making it money. Distraction through detraction.
4) The Control Freak. If you spend all your time worrying about and trying to control others, when do you get your work done? Do you really have that much time on your hands? The answer is, yes, these bullies do have that much time on their hands because they’re not doing their work; they’re too busy telling you how to do your work. By spending every waking moment trying to control people and situations, they give the appearance of being busy without accomplishing anything of their own.
This type believes his or her way is the only way. They try to leave their thumbprint on so that they can take credit for everything. It’s definitely another form of bullying that involves domination and micro-management. Eventually, this behavior undermines your confidence and causes physical and psychological symptoms from the stress of being under constant attacks and monitoring.
5) The Scavenger. They’re after your job. This happens all the time, hence the expression, “Dog eat dog world.” Enough said.
6) The Terminator. They don’t want your job; they want you gone! This person is territorial and will do anything. Watch your back. They prey on the vulnerable and weak. They also go after people who see through their facade, their mediocrity and vicious attack behaviors.
Deep down they have an inferiority complex. This is another bully behavior. Although their attacks feel personal, they seek and destroy others, particularly those who are smarter, more talented, more creative and more successful, in order to feel powerful and better about themselves. After, they force you out, they’ll move onto their next target within 2 hours to two weeks. This type always has an “enemy” in the cross hairs.
When an office has infighting, territory disputes, and withholds supplies and information, it’s a clear sign that it’s a workplace in which bullying is rampant and/or is tolerated by management. If you recognize any of the above personalities at your office, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with how bullies operate and how you can protect yourself. Isn’t it time to get rid of these adult bullies that have most likely manifested this behavior all their lives?
I’ll be writing more on this subject so stay tuned so you can be prepared, be forewarned and no longer a victim.