Is There a Way to Sense a Bully?

Dear ABC,
Is there a way to sense if someone is a bully before they start bullying?
Sensing a Bully

Dear Sensing,
Prior to the past two years of intense bullying my bully had beenvery subtly bullying me for years. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it was all about. I thought she just didn’t like me. I remember the day I found out she’s 15 years older than me. I had always thought she was the same age as me. I was so happy that I figured it out, or so I thought. I was convinced that she wasn’t more friendly because I was like a snot nosed kid to her.Then someone told me she was a bully, not in those words of course,as “bully” is not something that anyone would say about an adult in the United States. I didn’t believe it.Then a new manager called me into his office and asked me all kinds of questions about how I get along with people and I replied that there were no problems, or so I thought.Then this new manager gave me an excellent performance evaluation,one of the best I had with just one comment that seemed odd – that I should try to work harder on my relationships with coworkers. I couldn’t think of anyone I was having problems with. This was when
the bully was a coworker, now she’s my bully boss.

It wasn’t until the eve of a horrific performance evaluation that my bully boss gave me, after she was promoted, when I finally got it. I looked up on the Internet “intimidation at work”. Then all this “bully” stuff popped up on the screen. I read as much as I could that night because this time I REALLY figured it out!

The next day I confided in a coworker who suddenly became very angry in defense of the bully. It was a side of this coworker I never saw before. That eve I read that there is often a secondary person who helps the bully. Oh my God! I confided in the bully’s helper.What a mistake that was!

So, I must be horribly naïve as I could not sense that she was a bully for years! AND I had no sense that the coworker I sit directly across from, had a special relationship with her.

I have since learned however, that there are ways to sense a bully but it takes careful observation. Keep in mind that true bullies do not have the mental capacity to feel the emotion empathy. They are very good at mimicking this normal emotion when they remember to. Observing the many bullies I’ve come across in my life, I have found out that if you watch carefully, they do not always give an appropriate emotional response. I recently read an article that stated that when the bully does this, that is, fails to display normal emotional responses, normal people have a tendency to overlook it. Normal people assuming the bully thinks like they do, actually fill-in memories of the bullys’ response as the way they assumed it was, normal, when in fact it wasn’t. So watch for two things; Lack of emotional response when you would normally expect it. An example being bad news about a coworkers health. The second thing to watch for is the “honeymoon phase” . Watch for anyone in a higher position than yours, who takes a special interest in you. Do not share personal problems or talk about your weaknesses to ANYONE who takes a seemingly over interest in you. A common tactic of bullies is to get to know the target’s weaknesses, then turn it against them. So watch your back. Learn to Recognize it, Name it and End Workplace Bullying and Mobbing together! ABC

2 Responses

  1. OK. I think I just figured out my biggest problem. I share too much with my boss. I can’t un-ring a bell and I know that I need to leave my current job to escape as it isn’t and won’t get better where I am now.
    What I will do is be more reserved and not fall into a “bully boss trap” again.
    I think I am a genuinely nice and open person and I love to get to know people on a deeper level. I just need to keep in mind that my strength in this regard is also a terrible workplace weakness that leaves me wide open. Thanks for the help. It will save me heartache and work failure in the future.


  2. How can it be legal to call someone into an office, tell them everything is fine, ask leading questions and then use the information against them? It is one thing to discuss an incident that all parties agree occurred and hopefully come to a resolution, but, to lure someone into a potentially damaging conversation without full disclosure as to the ramifications of comments smacks of deceit.

    Are there any lawyers who can weigh in on this?


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