You know the story. We receive it, witness it or hear about it. It seems to be everywhere including social media, schools, workplaces. For many bullying in the workplace is particularly troublesome as it effects one’s livelihood. But the narrative regarding workplaces seems strangely absent. Not many people are talking about it.
Is there any observable pattern or strategy regarding workplace bullying? What forces drive toxic work environments and who controls them? It turns out that we can recognise four key perpetrators. These individuals are behind typically destructive workplaces and enable them to perpetuate.
The following summary is a reality check that will surely blow your mind!
The Screaming Mimi
They are the boss or supervisor instilling fear into the worker through public shock tactics with the purpose of paralysing the subject with surprise. Their tactic is to be unnerving and destabilising. The victim has the shocked look with the dropped jaw expression. This paralysis tactic is also designed to frighten co-workers so they can be primed later as ally to the bully. The Screaming Mimi is typically seen as the prototype bully but statistically is the rarest.
The Constant Critic
They get you behind closed doors and drill you with unjustifiable criticism with the knowledge they will be believed over you because they are managers. They misuse performance appraisal system (used in proper workplaces) as their primary tactic to undermine the integrity of the victim.
The chosen targets are well liked workers and technically skilled workers or the ‘go to’ worker. They apply unrelenting criticism. This is spread to other workers They are targeting the psyche of the worker to traumatise them so they will believe themselves to be incompetent.
The Two Headed Snake
Beware the hugging boss or manager because while they’re hugging you they are stabbing you in the back. They will hug you early in their work relationship with you. They employ passive aggressive techniques. They exhibit Jekyll and Hyde personality traits. They are both back stabbers and rumour mongers. In a supervisory role they fail to stop rumours which control the competent worker’s reputation. If the worker is alert to the corruption and takes action through moving to another department or workplace, The Two Headed Snake will make sure the escapee is saddled with the rumours as concrete reputation. In the new workplace the worker is greeted with the proviso that ‘you can’t do what you did in your former workplace’ etc.
These three type of bullies are attempting to redefine the competent worker as incompetent through actively questioning and attacking their identity, their psyche. This is the most traumatising element. This type of bullying is also known as co-mission.
The fourth type of bully employs withholding resource rather than active or co-mission bullying.
The Gatekeeper filters out key information so as to control those around them and to protect the corrupted workplace. They are not necessarily managers. They can enforce arbitrary deadlines that are designed to control other workers. Only the target victim receives these unrealistic deadlines while others are unburdened. The Gatekeeper controls the social environment so as to deprive the victim of inclusion. They deny the worker any assistance and the opportunity to collaborate with co-workers. The victim is attacked during greatest vulnerability such as after a vacation, first day back after a divorce or first day back from sickness.
This summary reveals the stereotypical behaviour of empowered bullies and should provide a stark warning for those subject to them. It should lead to one simple conclusion: leave. Simply put, you are too valuable.