Learn how to recognize and stop covert, sneaky bullies and narcissistic control freaks in the workplace. Overt bullies – whether they’re bosses, coworkers or supervisees – are easy to recognize; they’re loud, obnoxious, threatening and in your face.
Sneaky, stealthy bullies are harder to recognize. If we don’t recognize their tactics and label them, we can’t energize ourselves to develop and carry out an effective plan to stop them.
- They want to control all the turf. They form hidden, unofficial power centers on their teams. They want you to ask their permission before you do anything. In subtle, manipulative, bullying ways they’ll harass and abuse you until you walk on egg-shells around them. Sometimes they gain power and control by being nasty and vicious behind your back. Sometimes they gain control by being hypersensitive, so you’re afraid to hurt their feelings and set them off. I call these hypersensitive ones, “professional victims.”
- Sneaky bullies think they know best about everything; just ask them. They make your life miserable if you don’t do what they want. With a seemingly friendly smile, they point out your mistakes and failings. Their absolute certainty seduces you into self-doubt and self-bullying. You become unsure of your own judgment and wisdom; eventually you give in to them.
- They know they’re more important than you are. They think your whole life should be devoted to their emotional needs, wants and whims. Their desires, jealousies, issues and concerns (not yours) become the focus of all interactions. They think they’re entitled to get what they want. Their feelings are their justifications for their anger, retaliation and revenge. They’ll fight to the death over things you think are trivial. They never really apologize or compromise, even if they say the words. You may think that by giving in one time, they’ll give in the next time. But they never give in. They push each new boundary endlessly.
- They think their sense of humor is correct. They think they can say whatever they want and you’re supposed to take it. They use you as an emotional punching bag. They make nasty, vicious, demeaning, hurtful remarks to you and cut you down in public, or they tell your embarrassing secrets. Then they laugh like it’s a joke. They don’t care about your pain or wishes. If you object, they say you’re too sensitive or they were kidding. They think your feelings are stupid and not logical. And you better not say anything they don’t like. They think they don’t have anything to learn. They insist on doing things their way.
- Everyone is a pawn in their game. You have value only as long as you can help them or you worship them. They’re selfish, arrogant and demanding; they think they should be catered to or waited on. Anyone who doesn’t help or who gets in their way becomes an enemy. They form cliques and mobs who support them or who do their dirty work. Sometimes they are entrenched in the workplace – they have friends in high places. You’re afraid that if you disagree, they’ll strike back at you.
- They think their excuses, excuse them. They’re sure their reasons are always correct and are enough to justify what they do. They think that if you don’t agree, you simply don’t understand or you’re evil. Self-deluded narcissists think their jealousy, anger and hatred, their manipulation and back-stabbing are not bad characteristics.
- They think their logic, reasoning and rules, rule. They think they’re entitled to do anything they want – to take what they want, to ridicule and attack you or to strike back in any way they want – but everyone else should be bound by their rules. They think that if your feelings are hurt by what they’ve said or done, it’s your fault and your problem. They know they’re right and they’re righteous. They’re great debaters or they simply talk so loud and long that eventually you give in.
Ignore your self-bullying; that little voice that doesn’t like you, that tells you that the narcissistic control-freak might be right. If you don’t trust your own guts you’ll get sucked in, just like you would into a black hole.
You’re never going to change them. They’re bullying, control-freaks.
Don’t debate or argue with them. Find someone high up on the totem pole to help you. Make a business case for how damaging their tactics are. Get allies who also want to stop them. Shine a light on their tactics and their cliques.
If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey. Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.
Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation. To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.