Tactics Of A Workplace Serial Bully Boss. By ABC

Tactics Of A Workplace Serial Bully Boss


Some bully bosses have no shame and make no effort to hide their bullying behaviors. These are the screamers, ranters and ravers. They may have tantrums, throw things, pound on desks and fire subordinates on a whim. Often they remain in their position because there is no one in a higher position in which to take them down. These are the CEOs of both small and large companies or owners of small businesses. A frequent example is a physician’s or a dentist’s practice in which the doctor bullies his receptionists, nurses, billing clerks, and even the cleaning crew. Most people would agree that people who behave this way are “bullies”.

Then there is another type of bully boss which most people would not even perceive as a bully. The “closet” bully boss is actually much more prevalent and more dangerous than the ranter or raver described above. This type of bully boss is very cleaver in their ability to hide their bullying behaviors and to manipulate the perception of bystanders against the “target”. Most bullies possess excellent emotional intelligence. The thing that needs to be kept in mind is that true “psycho bullies” are motivated in ways that normal people do not understand. Bullies use their emotional intelligence to cause conflict intentionally. They are not interested in building positive relationships, only ones they can manipulate. Much of their bullying behavior is premeditated. They do not possess empathy.

Closet bully bosses are often also “serial bullies” who choose one target at a time. One study showed that after successfully eliminating a target, they chose another target within two weeks. These bully bosses are capable of behaving normally towards all other subordinates and will even behave normally towards the target, whenever there are witnesses. This method serves the bully boss well, making it difficult for others to believe a target. Often, only the bully boss and the target know the true nature of the bully.

Simply stated, “targets” are good at their jobs and therefore cannot be taken down based on poor job performance. Therefore bullies rely on character assassination, twisted, half or outright lies, rumors and innuendo to subjugate or eliminate their target. Read my article “proud to be a target” to understand how bullies choose their targets.

At the beginning of a bullying campaign the target may actually feel favored by the bully boss. The bully boss often befriends their target at first. The target begins to trust the bully boss and may share information about their weaknesses that the bully boss then uses against the target. After the bully boss gains useful information about the target, the bully may try a few “pass-by nibbles” (read the article about pass-by nibbles, on this blog) to test the targets reaction. Then a full blown bullying campaign begins.

In my first emotional assault, my bully called me into a meeting with her and a Human Resource Rep to “discuss my needs”, only to reprimand me for “intimidation of subordinates”, a grossly twisted, half truth. My bully boss knows how strongly I feel about treating everyone, especially subordinates, respectfully. Knowing this about me, she knew it would be especially hurtful to accuse me of just that. It upset me horribly and I couldn’t stop crying at my desk for most of that day.

This reprimand happened behind closed doors. I was warned not to discuss it with coworkers. My coworkers didn’t hear my boss’s lies or hear her calling me a liar. They didn’t see her disrespect me as she rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue at my responses. They only knew I was reprimanded so severely I cried all day. Bullies delight in observing the pain and chaos they have caused and marvel at their ability to get away with it. Next comes the “mental health card”.

After the Bully boss’s first emotional assault the target reacts emotionally as I did. The bully boss then manipulates the target’s coworkers into feeling privileged to be in her confidence. The bully then feigning concern for the target tells of half or twisted truths, placing the targets mental health, competence and/or loyalty into question. It is often what the bully doesn’t say that causes the most damage. For example: The bully boss brings coworkers into her privileged confidence. The bully then cites a half or twisted truths about the target or will imply that the target caused the bully some kind of deep hurt. The bully then mimicking deep hurt or confidentiality concerns, refuses to share details, leaving everything to the imagination. It must be remembered that they are “masters of deception” and can easily convince others of the target’s negative attributes and how the target has caused them personal concern or injury of some kind. They can be so convincing, some convince themselves into believing the lies that they themselves have fabricated.

Coworkers feeling privileged to be of assistance to their deeply hurt boss will do anything the bully boss asks. This is called “mobbing”.

A full blown bullying and mobbing campaign could be a very critical period for the target who has no understanding of the “bullying and mobbing phenomenon”. Targets who are typically good performers and well liked by coworkers are stunned by the first emotional assault, which is often the first reprimand in their careers. They become obsessed trying to understand why first their boss, then their coworkers turned against them, when there is no valid reason at all!

Suddenly the target’s world is a different place, for reasons they don’t understand. Most targets have enjoyed decades of appreciated successes on their jobs, only to be left in isolated despair. Most targets are forced out of their positions within two years of a bullying and mobbing campaign. Forced out by being fired, resigning, becoming ill, committing suicide or going postal!

All of this could be avoided if every working person had a knowledge of “workplace bullying and mobbing”. If this is the first time you have heard of it, learn more about it today. Who knows, you might be the serial bullys’ next target. Hopefully, someday, every working person will learn to Recognize it, Name it and End workplace bullying and mobbing together! ABC

179 Responses

  1. Ditto above.

    Once you realize your boss is abusive, for whatever reasons, might as well just keep moving…no sense in wasting your efforts you won’t get anywhere. It almost always ends badly.

    Personally I resigned before the village political appointee could do more harm, not that enough wasn’t already done. Cut your losses early with these types, don’t try to tough it out. Your work will not be recognized nor rewarded — these types will take all the credit and spin everything as if they are “Mother Theresa” and you are “Medusa”.
    I lasted 4 years, I waited way too long, and tried every trick in the book, nothing worked.

    They turn the tables quite easily, they are masters of deception. Lies/propaganda of course, but that’s their stock-in-trade. The only way you “win” and it won’t be “monetary” is to refuse to play their game, refuse the abuse.

    Document, document, document as poster said above, everything, then expect to get fired or be forced to resign. It’s better if you can prove a pattern with your documentation of the abuse, and that you made attempts to correct it by following chain-of-command to the top, then if you resign you may stand a snowballs chance in hell of getting unemployment.

    You must prove intolerable working conditions, harassment, fraud, discrimination, you must have solid evidence of this before quitting (witnesses, emails, etc.).

    Then, if you are in a protected group, proceed with an EEOC. If you aren’t in a protected group, write up a nice exit interview to keep on file with all your documentation.

    Because trust me, these types NEVER give a good reference when you quit, so expect that too, and don’t let that fear hold you back from acting on your own morals, values and convictions.

    Don’t hide the abuse, you are only enabling them. No different than an abusive personal relationship, call it like you see it, don’t whitewash any of it and be free of it, and never look back or second-guess yourself. Listen to your gut, it’s telling you in order to survive the treachery and abuse, you need to “hunt” someplace else!

    And if I ever go back to the “formal” workplace, and ever have another interview, I will tell the interviewer the truth about my resignation, I would preface it with “in my opinion” I was working for an incompetent bully boss and upper-management failed to acknowledge my concerns and/or make any attempt to correct the situation.

    If the interviewer freezes & can’t handle the truth and then scurries the interview like a cockroach, then you can damn well bet you wouldn’t want to work for them either.

    Vent off :)

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  5. This sounds exactly like a situation I am in right now. The only difference is this is a co-worker who has managed to make my new boss believe all of her lies. She has been with our company about a year and he has been with our company for less than a year. I love my job and don’t want to be forced out because of her. I think she is mentally ill, but know one believes me. She is out right mean to me when no one is around and flat out lies about things I say and do. I don’t understand how someone could look at my work history and evaluations and believe her. I need help. I cry all of the time.

  6. excellent account of what is happening to me, advised turnover is a result of my leadership skills yet all staff that have left are saying I am the best boss they ever had and are all putting in writing. Said should never have been put in the job (have been in this job 7 years and continually promoted) said I don’t have the intelligence. Said could not manage him up.
    Resigned could not take any more no notice. Going to mediation. I guess he will deny. Anyone with this experience.

    • “Anyone with this experience?”

      Most every target of a work place serial bully boss, knows exactly what you mean. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to get others to see it and believe it too! Resignation is the best way to rid your self of the insanity. However, keep in mind that good performers often experience work place bullying again in future jobs. Keep doing a good job where ever you work, but keep a low profile. Remember, targets are chosen for abuse by bullies who are jealous of the target’s abilities. Just as bullies try to hide their bullying and inadequacies, targets should try to keep their successes to themselves. Best of luck in your future employment and don’t let the bullies get you down, ABC

  7. Never knew how prevalent that this serial bullying actually is and how closely my situation matches many of the above scenarios. My boss may have bitten a bit more off he can consume. Thank you for this blog.

  8. That is very attention-grabbing, You’re an excessively skilled blogger.
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    • I was the target of an aggressive bullying boss for six months. It caused me to re-evaluate my future, which had included at least one more year of working for my employer, as I am 65 and had been in the business for 42 years. After reporting it all to HR, including the taking away of my largest and most profitable account for no apparent reason, arbitrarily affecting my income, I told HR I did not know how much longer I could work for this person. This move backfired on the bully boss- the company agreed to supplement my income for six months to make up for the income, charging the branch profit number with the additional monthly payout – on top of paying another salesperson the profit income on the account that the bully took from me- DOUBLE WHAMMY!

      Having a “stupidvisor” who was capricious and arbitrary with every move she made with me, she lost the most dedicated and the top producing sales person under her roof. Two months later, with two weeks’ notice I left her high and dry trying to fill the most challenging account base and geography in her office.

      I know she must be looking for a new target, and has her “mob” in full motion.

      Document it all, report it all, and if you are serious make sure you stay in weekly, if not daily contact with HR. This is their problem- don’t be shy, get them on your side, because initially they are not on your side- they work for the company, not you. If you are the real deal, the real target of a bully and truthful about what is happening, HR will have to look at the situation. If they do not, be prepared to take it to the next level (VP’s, etc), as companies are very concerned about real situations and do not want to expose themselves to a potential large lawsuit from a you. Have your facts in order, even recordings, if you are really serious.

      • The issue is when there is a group at the top (including HR manager) supporting & colluding with the serial bully.

  9. Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this web page on
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  10. I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem.
    You are incredible! Thanks!

  11. They are everywhere- they don’t care about you or your performance. I left an industry after 42 years because of 6 months of a bully boss. I was the top performer at my sales branch for 2013- not even a thank you after my resignation. Don’t expect HR to do anything- I lodged a rather detailed accounting of the bully boss and the lies and that this person would find someone else in my absence to bully into submission.

    Thanks for your site. Keep up the great work.

  12. wow this is exactly describing my former DM at True religion she forced out my previous store manager and then did the same thing to me after she found someone to run the store that didnt question her inadequacies as a DM.

    • Yup, it is in their nature. Their day will come when they run out of candidates to fill positions as the word gets around, or the company determines that they are actually inadequate- a sure sign that someone has “reached their level of incompetency”- The Peter Principle…..

  13. I also had a number of contacts with HR, including an initial personal 1 hr meeting regarding this persons tactics. Even a conference call from the boss’s office to HR, where the boss was a cordial as anyone could ever be. HR is interested in only thing…… that you do not sue the company. They know you are going to leave. When you are in the right, and I was the second person to resign after this bully took over, so the odds were in my favor, HR will give you anything, within reason, when you leave. Do not leave anything on the table…… including your real reason for resigning.

  14. I am crying because this is exactly what has happened to me and even though I absolutely cannot afford to be without a paycheck, even though stronger friends/colleagues outside my department has told me to stay strong and not get sucked in emotionally, I’ve decided I have to put in my resignation because the mob bullying has entered my psyche and is completely destroying my belief in myself after spending over a decade in this company. I feel so betrayed and naive at the same time. I worry that I won’t be able to function in my next job. All this and deep down, I know I did my job well but still, I am shaken and my emotions are all twisted up in knots.

  15. Dear Hanging by a Thread,
    I feel your pain, your words expressed the feeling of being betrayed by work place bullies, in a way that only those who actually experienced it can. You are very wise in your decision to leave your job. You can only recover from an abusive situation by first leaving it. You know you did your job well and therefore are capable of doing a good job else where. I would distance myself from your former workplace and co-workers, to avoid refueling an emotional fire you put out by leaving. Cry your eyes out privately to get it out of your system, then look forward, for new opportunities and ideas. Do not discuss this problem with potential future employers, instead, tell them how well you truly performed on your job. You know the truth, don’t let the lies of the past rob you of your future self confidence. After all, confidence in your self, is something that you already earned and proved to yourself. Your experience is horrible to go through for sure. Believe it or not, the emotional pain will eventually fade with the passage of time, making room in your mind to consider what you learned, and how you matured into a stronger person through the trial of this experience.

    May God Bless you in your future pursuits, ABC-AntiBullyingCrusador

    • I agree completely. I suggest you do a list of what you did well – it may well be very tough emotionally to start with – in which case also ask your real friends to help you with it. You’ll have proof and examples of what you did well – that’s the positivity you bring with you to any new employment, what your new employer will want to hear about and what will help you to move onwards.

  16. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and
    was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having
    a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m
    not 100% sure. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.


    • Thank you for the compliment! But, I really didn’t make any decisions on my own, nor even choose the words I wrote. Most everything on this web site was inspired by God, through His Holy Spirit! All praise goes to Him.

      I started writing about “workplace bullying and mobbing” way back in 2004, when no one in the United States knew the meaning of these terms. After doing an Internet search on the terms “intimidation at work”, I finally found a web site, written in the United Kingdom, which described my experience so precisely, it changed my whole perspective of this persistant, seemingly unsolvable problem, that I was having with my boss, that just didn’t make sense. Once Learning the proper full term of my experience, “The Phenomenon of workplace bullying and mobbing”, terms that both I, as well as everyone I asked, had ever heard of before, brought me to the sources of information I needed to understand my problem. After reading that targets of workplace bullying and mobbing, who have no understanding of the problem, often consider, attempt, or successfully commit suicide, I suddenly felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to start writing, and used a free platform available through my Yahoo account.

      Free platforms are really free, unless you choose advanced options that you are charged for. All the free platforms I used were great in that they manage the technology, such as changing my words into code, and making my web site more available through search engines etc.. They are often available through the website, of your Internet connection provider.

      The problem with free platforms, are the ones I initially chose, discontinued their free platforms. This WordPress blog, is actually my fourth web site, but seems like it will be around for awhile. You also cannot advertise, to make money on free platforms. Any ads you see on my web site are put there by WordPress, for their profit, not mine.

      So, you see, I have no real expertize, or special qualifications in writing or blogging at all, I just find myself in the midst of doing God’s will. You’ll need to look else where for the worldly experts, or you may try praying on it, like I did. If it’s God’s will for you to use the Internet for His purpose, you’ll suddenly find yourself in the midst of doing just that, using the best platform, the right words, as well as all the other details, which will fall into place, according to His purpose. The path so easy and clear, you hardly notice the path at all, until you’ve arrived.

      God Bless you, in all your efforts and His, ABC-AntiBullyingCrusador

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  20. You have made some good points there. I looked on the internet
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  21. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would
    never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to
    get the hang of it!

    • Adult bullying IS very complicated especially when the bully involves others, which is called mobbing. The bully deceives so many people using so many lies it’s unbelievable even to me. When I first learned about the work place bullying and mobbing phenomenon, I read everything I could, sometimes rereading articles, in order to get the level of understanding I needed, to beat the problem, only to learn that most of the time, it can’t be beat! Hard lesson to learn for sure. If you’re a target, that’s the most important thing to know. Without telling anyone at your work place, it’s best to just find another job else where, or a position in the same company, in which you have no contact with the bully. Bullies rarely give up until their target is eliminated from the work group. Thank you for your comment, it’s spot on! ABC

      • A great blog, thank you. It is spot on and I am so much happier now I have left my job and am now realising what it did to me, my health and my colleagues still facing it. I should have done it much earlier.

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