« Do you have annoying habits that are labeled uncivil by your coworkers? | Main | The strengths and weaknesses of email »

Respected or loathed, the latter describes the workplace bully

Incivility is mild compared to bullying, but it can be difficult to decide where incivility tips over into bullying. There are full-blown bullies and then those who employ a few bullying techniques. Some practices are simply poor communication. Aren’t we all guilty of that to some extent?

This post is to help you recognize bullying techniques and contemplate if you use any of these techniques or if you work with people who use them.

A sample of bullying actions that affects involvement and productivity
A bully
• Revels in confusion, divide and rule
• Constantly interferes, dictates and controls
• Includes and excludes people selectively rather than including everyone
• Withholds information, releases selectively, uses information as a weapon rather than sharing information freely
• Lacks integrity, exhibits hypocrisy and duplicity rather than abiding by a moral code of integrity

Workplace guru Tom Bay writes about how ideas and moods can aid or sabotage the workplace in ‘Change Your Attitude: Creating Success One Thought at a Time’. He believes toxic managers and the cultures that enable them are at the core of today's job-hopping phenomenon.

The difference between bullying and management
If you think of the seven key needs employees want from the previous post, you’ll find them on the left side of this chart, stated directly or implied. I don’t believe you need to interpret the word ‘manager’ as some one who carries that title. It can be any person in the workplace; we all manage something, and most importantly, our own actions.

From Stop Toxic Managers Before They Stop You, http://content.monster.com/articles/3487/16661/1/home.aspx
Some work situations foster toxic managers. When a company has gone through downsizings, pay freezes or other financial crises, negative management tends to thrive. The emphasis is often on get-tough turnaround. Administrators turn a blind eye to crude management as long as the numbers are good.

Bullying defined, why people bully, whom bullies target, steps to take against bullying, Sticks and stones, Feb. 3, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/mt/civility/2007/02/sticks_and_stones.html

How to deal with workplace bullying and how to tackle bullying at work, http://www.bullyonline.org/action/action.htm

Workplace Bullying: Who's Your Bully?, Monster Career Advice

Expert Answers on Workplace Bullying, Monster Career Advice, http://content.monster.com/articles/3493/18191/1/home.aspx

Ten Warning Signs of a Toxic Boss, Monster Career Advice, http://content.monster.com/articles/3478/16946/1/home.aspx


First, a disclaimer: the following thoughts in no way reflect my current workplace, colleagues, manager, or anybody else that you all would know!

Sometimes, an office bully doesn't exactly target one hapless victim--he/she targets the system in general. There are peers who, by their unpleasant behavior, basically bully everyone (including managers) into doing things "their way". It normally happens when co-workers and managers are in conflict-avoidance mode, and the bully takes advantage of that, by causing a huge fuss every time a decision has to be made that has one more desirable outcome for that person. If a person is loud enough, and unpleasant enough, and brave enough to use those domineering tactics, it becomes "easier" just to do whatever keeps them quiet. That then becomes a pattern in the office/company, allowing the bully to prosper from their aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, it's at the expense of "nice people" and "team players".