In an article in the New York Times on May 9, 2009, “Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work,” Mickey Meece describes numerous cases of women bullying women at work. Of course, women abuse, harass and sabotage other woman at work, just like men do to each other.  Sometimes they’re overt and sometimes they’re stealthy, sneaky.  Isn’t that your experience?

More important than distracting questions and considerations about how much they do it, why they do it or do they do it more or differently than men, are:

  • Do you recognize the early warning signs of bullies?
  • Do you know how to stop them skillfully?

Women often say that other women aren’t as overt about bullying; they’re more likely to be stealth bullies.  Some use tactics that are sneaky, manipulative, backstabbing; some form cliques and start rumors or demeaning put-downs; some pretend to be friends and bad mouth you behind your back; some are negative, whining, complaining “professional victims;” some are passive-aggressive.  And some can be nit-picking, control-freaks just as much as men.

How about Meryl Streep and other unsavory characters in “The Devil Wears Prada?”

Some are splinters, rotten apples and cancers – at all levels in your organization.  Just like men who bully.

As I show in my books and CDs of case studies, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks” and “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes,” bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same – whether they’re men or woman.  That’s why we can find ways to stop them.

Ignoring the problem or begging, bribery, appeasement, simply reinforce low attitudes and behavior at all levels.  A major part of the problem are conflict-avoidant leaders, managers and co-workers who think that if we all talk nicely to each other or try to make bullies happy, they’ll stop bullying.

If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey.  Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.

When women and men learn how to stop bullies in their tracks, we develop strength of character, determination, resilience and skill.  We need these qualities to succeed against the real world bullies they face – men or women.

Of course, individual coaching will help you design tactics that fit your specific situation.

Often, the strong and clear voice of an outside consultant and coach can change these behaviors or empower managers and staff to remove these bullies.  I’ve often helped companies and even non-profits and government agencies create and maintain behavioral standards (team agreements, ground rules for professional behavior) that promote productivity.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
9 CommentsPost a comment

There are too many reports of workplace harassment and bullying to list.  It seems that at least 30 percent of managers and employees are bullied and harassed.  Many critics and experts focus only on bullying bosses, but I’ve seen just as many employees and coworkers use these bullying methods as I have managers and supervisors.  Gangs of managers and staff also harass and bully each other.  Men and women bully each other in all combinations. How can you recognize the most common methods used for bullying and harassment?

The top 7 tactics I’ve seen are:

  1. Yelling and physical threats (overt or subtle).
  2. Personal attacks, verbal abuse, emotional intimidation, insults, put-downs and humiliating, demeaning, rude, cruel, insulting, mocking and embarrassing comments.  False accusations (especially outrageous) and character assassination.  Demeaning behavior at meetings – interrupting, ignoring, laughing, non-verbal comments behind your back (rude noises, body language, facial gestures, answering phones, working on computers).
  3. Harassment based on race, religion, gender and physical attributes.  Sexual contact, lewd suggestions, name-calling, teasing and personal jokes (sometimes overtly nasty, or threatening or sometimes followed by laughter as in, “I was just kidding” in order to make it hard for you to fight back).
  4. Backstabbing, spreading rumors and gossip, manipulating, lying, distorting, hypocrisy and exposing your problems and mistakes.  Anonymous attacks and cyber bullying – flaming e-mails and porn.  Invading your personal space and privacy – rummaging through your desk, listening to phone calls, asking extremely personal questions, eating your food.
  5. Taking the credit; spreading the blame.  Withholding information and then cutting you down for not knowing or for failing.  Turf wars about budgets, hiring, copiers and coffee machines.
  6. Hypersensitive, over-reactions, throwing tantrums (drama queens, sensitive princes), continual negativity – so you walk on egg shells, back off in order to avoid a scene, or beg forgiveness as if you really did something wrong.
  7. Dishonest evaluations – praising and promoting favorites, giving slackers good evaluations and destroying the careers of people bullies don’t like.

Most bullies use combinations of these techniques.

Bullying at work creates a hostile and unproductive culture.

  • There’s increased hostility, tension, selfishness, sick leave, stress-related disabilities, turn over and legal actions.
  • People become isolated, do busy work with no important results and waste huge chunks of time talking about the latest episodes.
  • Effort is diffused instead of aligned.  Teamwork, productivity, responsibility, efficiency, creativity and taking reasonable risks decrease.
  • Promotions are based on sucking up to the most difficult and nasty people, not on merit.  The best people leave as soon as they can.

I’ll go into possible solutions in future posts.  But for a start, listen to the CDs “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes.”

In the last post, we analyzed the tactics bullying cliques typically use and 10 common reasons why people form or join hostile, predatory cliques at work. Both men and women form and join cliques, even through their tactics are often different.  These predators verbally, sexually and physically harass and abuse both men and women.  They sabotage performance.  Don’t be surprised to learn that women prey on other women in the office – you’ve seen the evidence through elementary school, junior high school and high school.

What can you do if:

  • You have a pattern of being bullied all your life?
  • You’re a target?
  • You have a chance to join such a pack of jackals and are afraid to refuse because you might get attacked?
  • You’re a bystander and your heart goes out to a victim?

Bullying, cutting-out and creating and attacking scapegoats comes from a deep place within us and is found in almost all cultures, places and times.

Sometimes you can see that the person on the receiving end has done many things to offend almost everyone else.  But let’s put that situation aside for this post and focus on all the rest of the times when the person being cut out or attacked has been okay and the problem is the group that attacks their scapegoat.

If you’ve been bullied all your life, you have a problem that you’ll have to solve before you can deal effectively with a bullying clique.  Even if you haven’t done anything wrong to the pack of predators, you’re wearing a neon sign: "Kick me."  Lions, wild dogs and sharks can see who the weak and vulnerable ones are.  Bullies can too.  You’ll have to change your attitudes and beliefs so you’ll have a different sign: "Don’t mess with me!"  Let’s also leave this situation for another post.

Many people hope to stop cliques of bullies by analyzing why they do it and then using their understanding to design solutions.  Don’t waste your time.  You know why some people find others to pick on.  That catalogue of reasons is enough.

Management training rarely works.  Textbook and educational approaches – we’ll talk and I’ll show them why it’s wrong and they’ll see the error of their ways and become caring – rarely work.  They won’t stop bad behavior that’s driven by underlying emotions.

Predatory behavior by packs isn’t driven by intellectual reasons, it’s driven by emotions.  Of course the perpetrators can find reasons to justify their behavior, but they don’t do the behavior because of the reasons.  They do the behavior because of their own emotional needs and then they try to cover up the ugliness with a pretty picture of justifications.

Ignoring the problem or begging, bribery and appeasement simply reinforce low attitudes and behavior at all levels.  A major part of the problem are conflict-avoidant leaders, managers and co-workers who think that if we all talk nicely to each other or try to make bullies happy, they’ll stop bullying cliques.

Some real-world, stepwise approaches are:

  • Make efforts to be friendly in practical ways, in order to give them a chance to change – without doing anything immoral, illegal or odious.  Bring pizza and donuts.  Cover for them when they need help.  Socialize with coworkers.
  • If they continue targeting you (which they usually will), get help to develop tactics to isolate the ringleaders or get them fired.  The key goals are: separation and isolation.  Terminated is better than transferred, because transferred means that you’ve helped them create another bully-scapegoat situation.  How nice is that?
  • Get firmer and firmer.  Don’t threaten or share your tactics with them.  Get an attorney to advise you about local laws.  Get allies – HR and managers rarely want to be involved, but give them one chance.  Document, document, document.
  • If you have a chance to join such a pack of jackals and are afraid to refuse because you might get attacked, you have an integrity choice to make.  Do you want to live in fear or do you want to win a workplace war?
  • If you’re a bystander and your heart goes out to a victim, you have another integrity choice to make.  Often, if you help a victim, the victim won’t help in return.  Be prepared to act alone, if necessary.

Of course, individual coaching will help you design tactics that fit your specific situation.

The strong and clear voice of an outside consultant and coach can change these behaviors or empower managers and staff to remove these bullies.  I’ve often helped companies and even non-profits and government agencies create and maintain behavioral standards (team agreements, ground rules for professional behavior) that promote productivity.

As I show in my books and CDs of case studies, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks” and “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes,” bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same – whether they’re men or woman.  That’s why we can find ways to stop them.

In her article in the Wall Street Journal, “When women derail other women in the office,” Rachel Emma Silverman comments on Peggy Klaus’ article in the New York Times, “A Sisterhood of Workplace Infighting.” Both discuss an estimate that female office bullies who commit verbal abuse, sabotage performance or hurt relationships, aim at other women more than 70% of the time.  Both discuss the psychological reasons why women hurt other women and why they don’t protect them.

Of course, women abuse, harass and sabotage other woman at work.  Sometimes they’re overt and sometimes they’re stealthy, sneaky.  Isn’t that your experience?

More important than distracting questions and considerations about how much they do it, why they do it or do they do it more or differently than men, are:

  • Do you recognize the early warning signs of bullies?
  • Do you know how to stop them skillfully?

Women often say that other women aren’t as overt about bullying; they’re more likely to be covert, stealth bullies.  Some of the common tactics and perpetrators are:

How about Meryl Streep and other unsavory characters in “The Devil Wears Prada?”

Some are splinters, rotten apples and cancers – at all levels in your organization.  They need removed just like men who bully.

As I show in my books and CDs of case studies, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks” and “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes,” bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same – whether they’re men or woman.  That’s why we can find ways to stop them.

Ignoring the problem or begging, bribery and appeasement simply reinforce low attitudes and behavior at all levels.  A major part of the problem are conflict-avoidant leaders, managers and co-workers who think that if we all talk nicely to each other or try to make bullies happy, they’ll stop bullying.

If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey.  Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.

When women and men learn how to stop bullies in their tracks, we develop strength of character, determination, resilience and skill.  We need these qualities to succeed against the real world bullies we face – men or women.

Of course, individual coaching will help you design tactics that fit your specific situation.

Often, the strong and clear voice of an outside consultant and coach can change these behaviors or empower managers and staff to remove these bullies.  I’ve often helped companies and even non-profits and government agencies create and maintain behavioral standards (team agreements, ground rules for professional behavior) that promote productivity.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
TagsA Sisterhood of Workplace Infighting, abuse, agencies, aggressive, agreements, appeasement, article, attitudes, avoidant, backstabbing, bad mouthing, begging, Behavior, behavioral, behavioral standards, books, bribery, bullies, bully, bullying, cancers, case studies, CDs, character, characters, cliques, co-workers, coach, Coaching, comments, commit, companies, complaining, conflict, conflict-avoidant, considerations, consultant, control, control-freaks, covert, demeaning, derail, determination, Devil Wears Prada, early warning signs, Eliminate, Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes, empower, female, friends, government, government agencies, ground rules, happy, harass, How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks, hurt, hurt relationships, ignoring, individual, individual coaching, Infighting, Klaus, leaders, levels, Low Attitudes, managers, manipulative, men, Meryl Streep, negative, New York Times, Nit-picking, non-profits, office, office bullies, organization, overt, passive, Passive-aggressive, patterns, Peggy Klaus, performance, perpetrators, Pretending, problem, productivity, professional, professional victims, promote, protect, psychological, psychological reasons, put-downs, questions, Rachel Emma Silverman, real world, reasons, reinforce, Relationships, removed, resilience, rotten apples, rules, rumors, sabotage, signs, Silverman, Sisterhood, situation, skill, skillfully, sneaky, splinters, staff, Standards, stealth, stealthy, Stop Bullies, stop bullies in their tracks, stop bullying, strength, studies, Tactics, team, unsavory, verbal, verbal abuse, victims, Wall Street Journal, warning, warning signs, When women derail other women in the office, whining, women, work, workplace
3 CommentsPost a comment

For years I’ve watched bullies disrupt professional meetings and create hostile workplaces.  It’s bad enough when team members dominate meetings, but it’s always worse if it’s the boss who’s a control freak. Here are the top 10 tactics I’ve seen them use.  What situations and actions irritate and frustrate you most?

These methods are even worse when they’re repeatedly used.  But of course, that’s a sign of bullying behavior; bullies don’t change.  My top 10 are:

  1. Unprepared and latecomers – especially when they make a loud entrance.
  2. Interrupters – they may be show-offs or clowns; they may interrupt vocally or by eating and drinking loudly or they may use their cell phones, Blackberrys or computers.  They have the attention span of two year-olds.
  3. Boring ramblers with their lengthy personal conversations or digressions.
  4. Dominators and know-it-all authorities – their loudness, certainty and fast talk tend to shut other people down.
  5. Naysayers – they are relentlessly negative and can put down and block every proposal; “There are problems, we tried that, nothing ever works except my ideas.”
  6. Angry people who indulge in personal attacks and put-downs, belittling and bringing up old errors.  They’re often defensive but, after a while, who cares about their psychotherapy?
  7. Nit-pickers, distracters and side trackers who are full of irrelevant facts.  They prevent progress by correcting or arguing over irrelevant details.  They may want to re-think every previous decision; they never take action.
  8. Side conversation experts – their ideas, whims or self-important witticisms seem to them more important than the agenda.
  9. Editorial comments – they may be verbal or non-verbal, including snorting, rolling eyes, drumming fingers, turning their chairs around, laughing sarcastically and barely audible disparaging or ridiculing remarks.
  10. Passive-aggressive backstabbers – they keep quiet or even agree during meetings, but then disagree, complain or put down people after meetings.

We usually know how to resolve these problem behaviors, but most people don’t have the courage or the organization’s culture won’t allow you to act.

Often, the strong and clear voice of an outside consultant and coach can change these behaviors or empower managers and staff to remove these bullies.  I’ve often helped companies and even non-profits and government agencies create and maintain behavioral standards (team agreements, ground rules for professional behavior) that make meetings worthwhile and promote productivity.

The techniques are covered in the CD set, “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes,” and also in the book, “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks.”

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
Tags, action, agencies, agenda, agreements, angry, arguing, attacks, attitudes, authorities, backstabbers, Behavior, behavioral, behaviors, belittling, Blackberrys, block, book, Boring, boss, bullies, bullying, bullying behavior, CD, cell phones, certainty, clowns, coach, comments, companies, complain, computers, consultant, control, control-freak, conversation, conversations, correcting, courage, create, create hostile workplaces, culture, decision, defensive, details, digressions, disagree, disparaging, disrupt, distracters, Dominators, drumming fingers, Eliminate, Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes, empower, experts, fast talk, frustrate, government, ground rules, hostile, hostile workplaces, How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks, ideas, interrupt, Interrupters, irrelevant, irritate, know-it-all, latecomers, laughing, loud, loudly, loudness, maintain behavioral standards, managers, meetings, methods, Naysayers, negative, nit-pickers, non-profits, non-verbal, organization’s, Passive-aggressive, personal, prevent, problem, productivity, professional, professional behavior, professional meetings, progress, proposal, psychotherapy, put-down, put-downs, ramblers, relentlessly, relentlessly negative, remove bullies, Repeatedly, ridiculing remarks, rolling eyes, rules, sarcastically, self-important, show-offs, side trackers, snorting, staff, Standards, Stop Bullies, stop bullies in their tracks, team, team agreements, team members dominate, techniques, Unprepared, verbal, whims, witticisms, workplaces
2 CommentsPost a comment

Even doctors, supposedly intelligent, skilled, well-trained and focused on giving the best care possible to their patients, are sometimes bullies toward other staff.  The behavior of that 3-4 percent of doctors can cause medical mistakes, preventable complications and even death to patients who could otherwise be saved. In her column in the New York Times, on December 2, 2008, “Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive – and a Doctor,” Laurie Tarkin gives compelling evidence, surveys and examples of this bullying behavior. The examples included obnoxious, intimidating, abusive behavior; shouting, yelling, belittling, insulting, humiliating, ridiculing, blaming, berating and denigrating actions, often in front of patients and other staff members.  Some staff had to duck to avoid scalpels thrown across the operating room by angry surgeons.

Often, staff was made to feel like the bottom of the food chain.  Sometimes, staff was intimidated by a doctor so that they did not share their concerns about orders for medication that appeared to be incorrect

This hostile environment erodes cooperation and a sense of commitment to high-quality care.  Surveys of hospital staff members blame badly behaved doctors for low morale, stress and high turnover.

Although this article focused on doctors, we all know that the same behavior goes on at companies and organizations in every industry and area.

Do you have examples of your own?

I’ve described similar behavior in posts on the top ten ways to create a hostile workplace, verbal abuse by a know-it-all boss, a bullying coworker in the next cubicle and an unhappy employee creating a hostile workplace.

You’ll also find ways to combat this behavior in my book, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.”  Leaders and managers who want to change hostile work environment should listen to my CD set, “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes.”

As a coach, consultant and speaker, I encourage people to fight to win.  It’s crucial to design tactics for your specific needs and the situation.

New resources to help you eliminate bullies from both your work and personal life are ready to ship:* My new 10-CD set, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks,” complete with 20 case studies, plus a free bonus, unabridged reading of my book, “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids: Stop School Bullies in Their Tracks.” * The Bullies Be Gone system — Personal Life Bundle * The Bullies Be Gone system — Professional Life Bundle

The two new bundles bring together all of the elements and resources you need to create a bully-free environment in your professional and in your personal lives.  Listen to the CDs in the car or airplane, and refer back to the sections in the books that you'll want to read over and over.  When you purchase these bundles, you'll receive more that 20% off the price of each resource, if purchased separately.

They’re in plenty of time to help you handle the bullies you face during the holiday season and to give as presents to those in need.  Please see the details, including the Table of Contents and questions for reading groups, on the products and resources page. “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” will show you how to apply lessons from 20 case studies to end bullying in your personal life and at work: * Early warning signs of overt and stealth bullies. * Stop self-bullying before it destroys your life. * The three strategies that will be successful. * Nine ineffective approaches you should stop using. * A five-step process to thwart the most determined bullies. * How to protect your personal ecology.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Parenting Bully-Proof Kids: Stop School Bullies in Their Tracks” is a companion to “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks.”  It shows you how to guide your children and teenagers to live a bully-free life.

Good parenting requires you to teach them how to use other tactics and techniques to stop bullies in their tracks, as well as to maintain their independence, confidence and self-esteem, and to promote their emotional development. That's necessary preparation for them to succeed in the adult world at work and in personal relationships – e.g., with husbands, wives, partners, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends and neighbors.

Six case studies will teach you how to help them deal with: * Taunting, teasing and fighting. * A venomous Queen Bee. * Emotional blackmail. * A manipulative control-freak who pretends to be a friend. * School administrators. * The most important decision for teenagers. * Self-bullying.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Bullies Be Gone system — Personal Life Bundle

This collection of books and CDs brings together all the elements and resources you need to create a bully-free environment in your personal life: * “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” – soft cover. * “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids: Stop School Bullies in Their Tracks” – soft cover. * “Bullies Below the Radar” – soft cover. * “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” plus “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” – 10-CDs.

~~~~~~~~~

The Bullies Be Gone system — Professional Life Bundle

This collection of books and CDs brings together all of the elements and resources you need to create a bully-free environment in your professional life: * “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes” – 3-CDs + Workbook. * “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” – soft cover. * “Bullies Below the Radar” – soft cover. * 12 bonus articles on how to deal successfully with bullies in the workplace.

**********

~~~ "Create an isle of song in a sea of shouts."  Rabindranath Tagore ~~~

We'll make it easy for you to get copies for everyone on your gift list by shipping directly to them.  Simply order the number of copies you want and immediately send me an e-mail with the addresses of each of your lucky friends.  In addition, if you recently purchased one of the items in the system and want to get the rest now, e-mail me and I'll give you a special discount on “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and the 10-CD set.

Of course, you can also get the personal coaching you need for your specific situation.

Best wishes for a joyous, bully-free life, Ben

What do you do if the person in the next cubicle constantly gives you the silent treatment, glares, ignores your requests for information, makes belittling comments in meetings, puts you down in public, spreads false gossip about you, takes credit for what you did, accuses you falsely of making mistakes, tries to rally other people to be nasty to you and cuts you down to your manager? Even worse, what do you do if that’s your boss, and he also yells at you, makes personal and derogatory comments in front of the rest of the team, gives you unreasonable projects or deadlines so you’ll fail, evaluates you dishonestly and harshly, and is relentlessly critical?

Women, just as much as men, create hostile workplaces by verbal abuse and emotional intimidation.  They may even be more sneaky and manipulative.

What’s happened to you?  And what can you do?

In her column in the New York Times, “When the Bully Sits in the Next Cubicle,” and her blog post, “Have You Been Bullied at Work,” Tara Parker-Pope gives statistics for how prevalent these behaviors are.  Statistics are cold, but the individual pain of being treated this way is very hot.

I use the term “stealth bullies” for the subtle, sneaky, manipulative, critical, controlling workplace bullies who don’t use physical violence.  Most people at work let this behavior fly below their radar.  If we recognized and labeled these people as bullies, we’d be energized to resist.

Instead, many people take part of the blame and suffer in isolation.  They feel helpless and hopeless.

On an individual level, I think the first key to resisting is to recognize and label the actions as bullying so you’re galvanized to resist.  Then find allies and shine a light on it.  Think tactically and understand you’re in a war.  Because laws won’t help much, you’ll have to find other levers to exert pressure.

I don’t spend much time analyzing why bullies do it.  We know the major categories: personal dislikes, using brutality or someone’s back as a stepping stone, and ego stroking (“If I put you down, I’m one up).  You could probably reel off a few more.  In general, the approach of understanding doesn’t help.

I see hostile workplaces, verbal abuse and emotional intimidation not only in medical, legal and academic environments, but especially in government offices, non-profits and public service.  In those areas, people are often afraid of “confrontation” or of making “judgments” (someone is a bully).  In those areas, the typical culture thinks that the best way to stop bullying is to educate and rehabilitate bullies instead of simply stopping them first.  That’s like telling a battered wife (or husband) to endure the brutality while her husband gets therapy.

The purpose of most workplaces is not to be a therapeutic community for their workers.  Set high standards and enforce them at all levels.  But if the people at the top won’t dedicate themselves to stopping harassment and bullying, you won’t be able to stop it.  That’s like schools in which principals and teachers won’t stop bullying.

As a coach, consultant and speaker, I encourage people to fight to win.  The book, “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” and the CD set, “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes,” can help but it’s crucial to design tactics for your specific needs and the situation.

But if you can’t win, don’t stay in a place where the powers are out to crush you mentally and emotionally, or where your spirit will be destroyed.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling