Friday, July 31, 2015

Signs You’re Working with a Workplace Bully

We have all met those people who have goals and won’t anyone or anything get in their way. Society seems to reward the aggressive. Each of us has likely come across a workplace bully at one time or another but understanding their characteristics and removing them from the workplace is an important part of creating a stronger business. 

Being driven is ok but overstepping your bounds is not ok. If colleagues and employees become alienated and don’t feel the ability to be genuine, or voice their opinion, their intellectual capital is wasted. What a bully interprets as “winning” is a short-term strategy that eventually damages their credibility along with the organization’s performance. 

No one likes to work with someone who knows all the answers and doesn’t respect the opinions and values of others. People want to feel engaged and connected with others and shutting them down without giving an opportunity to contribute leads to poor future decisions. Examples of aggressive personalities that lead to group think and poor outcomes dot history. 

Sometimes bullying personality manifests itself as manipulation while at other times it is associated with extreme measures to subjugate others. Lying, cheating, arguing, fighting, power struggles, demeaning comments, and even illegal activity are some of the ways a bully finds power. The message they are sending is, “anyone who disagrees with me is my enemy and must be destroyed!” 

The inability to understand or empathize with others has a darker root. An adult bully is a bigger version of the same bully in childhood. Externalizing shame, childhood bullying history and stigmatization are important characteristics that set bullies apart from the general population (Pontzer, 2010). Chances are bully’s will never change and should be avoided at all costs. 

Unfortunately they can’t always be avoided. There are times when aggressive behavior must be confronted. Make no mistake, they will do whatever it takes to ensure you are put back in line. Expected them to do and say anything to maintain the status que and their perception of worthiness. You may need to contact your HR department or seek legal counsel if behavior moves beyond civilized limits. 

Pontzer, D. (2010). A theoretical test of bullying behavior: parenting, personality and the bully/victim relationship. Journal of Family Violence, 25 (3).

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