LIES AND SHAME, More About Bullying Tactics
Some bullies become bullies because of childhood issues of inadequacy and shame. With this type of bully, allegations about poor work performance are rarely the primary tactic used against their target, because it is precisely the typical target’s GOOD performance that draws a bully’s attention in the first place. Bullies often feel threatened by the good performance of their targets. Their feelings of inadequacy intensify when they compare their own performance with that of a good performer and they are also fearful that others will be more likely to see their inadequacies as well.
Bullies deal with this fear of being exposed as inadequate in a number of ways. If they are the target’s immediate supervisor, they may deny their target opportunities in which others will see first hand, their positive attributes. For example, targets will not be chosen to participate in special assignments or committees in which others will see their better than average abilities. They will isolate their targets in any way they can. My bully boss once told me to never initiate conversation with upper managers, naming one upper manager specifically, because as she explained, “they are old fashioned” and prefer “the chain of command” style of corporate communication. Since the centralization of my department to the branch where this specific manager works, I found quite the opposite to be true. This manager has approached my coworkers and I, a number of times, always very friendly and engaging.
Instead of alleging false work performance issues, these bullies make false allegations about the target’s character and ability to get along with others. They will tell a target that no one likes them for example. In my case, my bully boss said that I “intimidate subordinates”. They actually lie about what coworkers say about them, relying on the target’s shame, not to check the validity of the allegations made. Targets who have no understanding of the “bullying and mobbing phenomenon” may actually believe the lies of the bully, not understanding that their manager, or anyone for that matter, is capable of intentionally lying in this way.
Against the common sense of all emotionally healthy people, bullies often instigate interpersonal problems between their subordinates. This serves the bully well by taking the attention away from the bully’s dysfunction onto the dysfunction of their subordinates. An example in my own case was when my bully boss accused me of flowing out work that was incomplete, then told me to ask the coworker who was really at fault, for the details. You can imagine the fireworks that caused!
Just as targets don’t understand the way bullies think, bullies don’t always understand how emotionally healthy people think. That’s what my bully boss didn’t count on. A coworker, having emotionally healthy self esteem, didn’t believe the lies of our bully boss. She had no shame as our bully assumed that she would. She therefore didn’t hesitate to repeat what our bully boss said, thereby validating that what the bully said, were all lies.
It is important for Human Resource professionals to know that when a manager makes allegations about a subordinate’s character, or ability to get along with others, devoid of work performance issues, workplace bullying should be suspected.
Sometimes it’s important to notice what isn’t said. Let’s all learn more about work place bullying and mobbing and be alert and able to Recognize it, Name it and End workplace bullying and mobbing together! ABC
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