O’Doyle Rules

O'Doyle Rules

Bullies @ Work

8th grade @ Bowman Middle School this “kid” whose name was Taurus (yes that’s right, his name was Taurus) was truly a man-child.  This person is so memorable to me because he was a bully…he was my personal bully.  He was the new kid at school and a kid this muscular, this athletic couldn’t possibly have an issue with me right?  Sigh.

In 8th grade I was, well a Beverly Hills 90210 extra.  Swooping gelled hair, rayon shirts, bowling shoes and friends with more girls than guys at the time.  One particular female friend of mine had seemingly become the unreciprocated love interest of Taurus.  So man-beast developed a strategy: push around, threaten and provoke goofy white kid to impress said love interest.  As you can probably guess this strategy backfired and after a couple months of my keen elusiveness of hiding in the teachers lounge, he grew bored with me.

In 8th grade, bullies are part of the junior high, middle school dynamic.  Immaturity, hormonal imbalances, etc all create a petrie dish for bully incubation.  However, when we become adults and enter the workforce, we would assume that those days are behind us.  Yet often we find ourselves in situations that seem just like we have been transported back to those adolescent years. Yet often a bully at work isn’t so obvious or blatant and often a bully is your boss, superior or a co-worker that has more pull or tenure than you.  They usually have this pull, because of their own ability to manipulate and patronize the big boss.  So if you stand up for yourself, you might lose, if you go above them, they will find a way to make your life miserable until you want to quit.  If you say nothing, then the way they treat you will only become worse and then before long you are at the same place of wanting to quit again.

So here is what I have learned so far on dealing with bullies at work without getting fired:

1. Bullies are protecting an insecurity.  Their insecurity tends to be professional.  They fear losing their job and being “out-shined” by someone else.  It’s why they will constantly point out to the big boss how well they do their job even when they didn’t do the work.

2. Insecurity breeds a need to control people.  In order to protect someone from hurting them or taking from them, bullies must control the other person.  It’s why they have all the answers, why everyone needs to perform a task “their way and you had better do it exactly their way.  Otherwise you will be verbally abused and made to feel inferior so you will doubt your ability to have good ideas or think for yourself.

3. The method to control people is to manipulate them.  Manipulation simply means that I am going to make someone to do something regardless of whether they want to or not.  Manipulation usually happens through Domination first (it’s the easiest and a bully’s preferred method), Pity second (I will make you feel sorry for me and also blame you), third Ignore and Defame (I won’t speak to you, but I will tell the big boss and other people who can do your job about your incompetence and every mistake you have made).

From there they usually you will get indifference, contempt, disgust, petty retaliations, all of which begin to expose their insecurity and that’s when they start getting themselves in trouble. You just need to make notes.

Breaking manipulation is about being constant in your work and in your demeanor.  I know we most of us are tired of this request that we “be the bigger person.”  This statement is not actually a request.  It’s a statement of the obvious.  A bully is never asked to be the bigger person, because everyone knows that they are the smaller person.  So if you are reminded to be the bigger person, it’s because you already are that person.  You just have to be yourself.

At this point is when you can express your concern to the big boss and be sure to write down the dates, times and words spoken to you from them.  Remember that this is not about getting them fired, but about getting them to act more professionally.  The bully is often a good employee from the big boss’ perspective so they are not planning on a termination.  However, if you will express your concerns of maintaining a happy, healthy, productive work environment to the big boss, they will likely welcome the candor.  Unless of course the big boss IS the bully.  If this is the case, then it might be time to start looking for other work.  In a professional work environment a bully can only get away with what is allowed.

And one last thing….a bully never thinks that they are one.

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