Suppose your toxic parents want you to forgive them for the way they treated you years ago.  They sound sincere and they say that they need you to nurse them now that their health is failing.  They don’t have enough money to live well so you should support them like they once supported you.  Also, they need your help to deal with a health-care bureaucracy they don’t understand. Can you forgive them and do what they want?

Forgiveness is a loaded word. To most people, especially toxic ones, forgiveness means not only you opening your heart to them, but also you giving them what they want.  At the very least it means increased relationship and, usually, endless arguing and debating, endless servitude.

But, suppose also that, trying to help them, you’ve bounced between anger and feeling guilty.  Suppose that the last ten times you’ve forgiven them and tried to be a dutiful child, you’ve gotten entangled in painful interactions.  Every time you get close, they try to control you and you feel angry again.  They don’t listen to your needs; they think their need to have you help them is more important than your values of independence and freedom.

Forgive them and move far away – physically, mentally and emotionally. What I mean by that is:

  1. Forgive them, have compassion for their struggles, and also stop thinking about them – about 2 minutes a week might be okay.  Forgiveness means that you don’t replay all the old incidents; you don’t get angry; you don’t try to justify yourself in your eyes or theirs; they occupy very little of your mental and emotional space.
  2. Get far away physically so there are no more incidents that will trigger you again.  End contact by telephone, email, social networks.
  3. Test the relatives and acquaintances.  Who begs you to relieve them of the burden of taking care of your needy parents?  Who tries to twist your arm so that you take care of those toxic parents?  Who tries to convince you that you still owe those toxic bullies loyalty and duty?
  4. You don’t have to confront your toxic parents.  You can simply tell them the way it is for you – calmly, firmly; no debates, no arguments, no justifications, no asking for their approval or permission.  Don’t waste your time in further confrontations.
  5. When they pursue you, keep your distance.  Don’t engage.  Of course they won’t respect your desires and boundaries.  They’ve always known what’s right.  Disappear again.

Think of your personal space as a target with a bull’s eye and many concentric circles going out from the center.  The more toxic people are, the further away from the center of your life you move them.  Every time someone pollutes your environment, for whatever reason, move them at least one circle further away from you; or more if they did something you particularly don’t like.

If someone apologizes, do not move them closer.  Watch their behavior.  How long before they revert to the old harassment, bullying or abuse?  Keep moving them further away.

What if they don’t want you to forgive them?  They just want you to forget what happened and do what they want and need now.

What if they’re angry at you for what they claim you did?  What if they want you to apologize to them before they’ll forgive you?

In what circle do you want to put your toxic parents? You’re in charge of your personal space.  “Because I want to” is more than sufficient reason for placing them in any particular circle and moving them closer or further away.  At what circle do you drop them off your map?

I’d also take the same approach with toxic friends, extended family and adult children.

It’s your life; take charge of it.  Be the hero of your life.

Many situations are examined in “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” and “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids.”

Since all tactics depend on the situation, expert coaching by phone or Skype helps.  We can design a plan that fits you and your situation.  And build your will and skill to carry it out effectively.

In a new interview and article, Theresa Marchetta, Investigative Reporter for Denver ABC-TV station, KMGH-TV reports on the steps you need to take to protect your children from becoming victims of bullies and of principals and district administrators who won’t stop taunting, teasing, harassment, bullying and abuse. Of course, if your wonderful principal protects your children, your two tasks are still to:

But if you’re faced with a “blame the victim; avoid the bully” or a do-nothing principal, you’ll have to become strong and skilled in your children’s defense.

Some key steps mentioned in the article are:

  • Think of “Relentless bullies as predators.  They are not going to stop and will do it over and over again.  I have to let my child know I am going to help protect you.  I don't want my kid to be a suicide, so I’m willing to fight.”
  • “My first action is with my children.  I want to let them know they are being targeted, but I won't let them be victims.  I want to build their strength, their character and their willingness to do something to protect themselves.”
  • “Second, I'm going to bring it to the school.”
    • “Request a meeting with the school principal…I expect that principal to meet with you the next day, the day after -- that fast.”
    • “To prepare for that meeting, parents must bring any evidence of the bullying including hate notes, e-mails, texts, pictures and any details of the child’s story.”
    • If you cannot stay calm, bring someone who can.  “If you're not calm you'll be targeted as the angry parent throwing a fit.”
  • Does the bullying stop?  I'll give them a week or a day depending on how bad it is…My tests are, is the bully separated to another part of the room or is the bully allowed access to my child?  Is my child the one who is kicked out of class or is my child protected?...If your child, the victim, is the one having to make changes, that is a red flag.”
  • If the situation is not resolved quickly, take the case directly to the district superintendent and the school board.”
  • If the responsible adults don’t resolve the situation, “Your next step is that you have to up-level.  You have to get a lawyer.  You have to think publicity…You've got to be willing to go right to that level.   When the people who should be protecting our children are fired and sued successfully, it will change.”

We all know the consequences of not stopping bullies and of allowing them continued contact with their targets, the bullying and violence will increase.

Principals who avoid the issue make the targeted children feel helpless and that their situation is hopeless.  It starts them down the path to being victims for life.  It destroys self-confidence and self-esteem.  It stimulates anxiety, stress, guilt, negativity and self-mutilation.  It starts children toward isolation, depression and suicide.

Remember, all tactics depend on the situation – the people and the circumstances.  So we must plan tactics that are appropriate to us and to the situation.

If your children are the targets of bullies and school officials who aren’t protecting them, you need to take charge.  With expert coaching and consulting, we can become strong and skilled enough to overcome principals and other officials who won’t do what’s right.

How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” and “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids,” have many examples of children and adults commanding themselves and then stopping bullies.  For more personalized coaching call me at 877-8Bullies (877-828-5543).

Theresa Marchetta, Investigative Reporter for Denver ABC-TV station, KMGH-TV reports on the response of the principal of Roxborough Intermediate School, Douglas County, Colorado to a serious case of bullying. “Irene Rockwell reports that her 6th grade daughter, who had been a peer mentor, choir member, A+ student and student body representative, was made to sit in the hallway so she could hear the lessons while the bully was allowed to remain in the classroom.”

“That was four months ago and until the investigative broadcast, nothing was done to remove the bully from school even though there were many further incidents.”

“The Rockwells said they were in constant contact with Ashley’s teacher, school principal Rick Kendall and other school officials, as the bullying continued.  Yet all along, the Rockwells said Kendall allowed the bully to remain in the same class with Ashley.”

"[Ashley] was sitting outside her class for almost 30 percent of the day hearing instruction because she could not sit in class without being tormented and harassed by this kid," Rockwell said.

“Rockwell read the instructions her daughters received from the school, Ashley and Victoria will sit on the north side of the cafeteria and will sit so she is facing the north wall."

“Soon, Rockwell said, the situation escalated from verbal assaults to physical threats.  My husband and I talked about it and quickly decided we'd be calling the police the next day, Rockwell said.”

If you find this hard to believe, see the video and read the article.  Of course, when principals like Mr. Kendall don’t stop bullies, the bullying and violence increases.

Obviously the principal has not resolved the situation effectively.  Why does the target have to be the one to make all the adjustments and the bully get away with the harassment, taunting, abuse and bullying?

The Rockwells will have to work hard to keep their daughter’s spirits up.  Principal Kendall’s approach makes the targeted children feel helpless and that their situation is hopeless.  It starts them down the path to being victims for life.  It destroys self-confidence and self-esteem.  It stimulates anxiety, stress, guilt, negativity and self-mutilation.  It starts children toward isolation, depression and suicide.

Whatever Mr. Kendall’s reasons, excuses and justifications, would you want to pay him to be responsible for your child’s safety?  I wouldn’t.

Oh yes.  Remember that the Colorado legislature is now considering a bill to raise public and private funds to educate teachers in how to stop bullies and bullying.  I strongly support the measure, but it’s a drop in the bucket.  It doesn’t require principals like Mr. Kendall and school district administrators to stop bullies.  And there are no penalties for principals like Mr. Kendall who allow bullies to continue attacking our children.

If your children are the targets of bullies and school officials who aren’t protecting them, you need to take charge.  With expert coaching and consulting, we can become strong and skilled enough to overcome principals and other officials who won’t do what’s right.  We can plan tactics that are appropriate to us and to the situation.

How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” and “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids,” have many examples of children and adults commanding themselves and then stopping bullies.  For more personalized coaching call me at 877-8Bullies (877-828-5543).

Sometimes toxic parents think they have us over a barrel even after we’ve grown up, gotten physically and financially independent, and started our own family.  They count on our loyalty to some ideal of “family” no matter how badly they treated and still treat us.  They count on our self-bullying and guilt.  They count on us still trying to jump through their hoops to win their love and approval...  They count on our fear that they’ll manipulate the rest of the family into thinking we’re ungrateful and bad.  And they often count on our enduring the verbal and emotional abuse so we can inherit our share of their fortune. Of course, I’m talking about those toxic parents who are still blaming everything on us and abusing us because “It’s your fault” or “You are selfish, ungrateful and don’t deserve any better” or “It’s your duty to do what they want in their old age.”  They’re the toxic parents who know our every weakness and sensitivity, and still poke them hard when they want too; still find fault with every little thing we do; still compare us unfavorably to someone else or to their standards; still criticize, belittle and harass us and our spouse and our children in public or they’re the sneaky ones who criticize, demean and denigrate us in private but pretend they love us in public so everyone thinks they’re wonderful, loving parents.

Of course, we’ve tried everything we can think of, but the negativity, harassment, criticism, blame, shame, bullying and abuse haven’t stopped.  We’ve tried to do exactly what they want, but it’s never enough.  We’ve apologized and pleaded with them to stop, but that just makes them act nastier.  We’ve gotten angry and threatened not to see them, but they broke down in such tears of distress we felt guilty or they blamed on us even more or they acted nice for a few minutes but, when we relaxed, they attacked us more about something different they didn’t like.

So what can we do now?

  1. For the sake of peace and quiet in the whole family, we could keep trying to endure the abuse while begging them to stop.  After all, we never know; if we only kept trying, if we only did enough, they might change.  Also, they might leave us in the will.  And it’d be our fault if we quit too soon.  Many people fly low until they have children and see their toxic parents either criticizing and emotionally abusing their children or belittling and criticizing them while being sweet to the grandchildren.
  2. We might continue objecting and arguing; enduring our frustration and anger.  Usually this tactic repeats endlessly and often spirals out of control.  Relentlessly toxic parents won’t admit they’re wrong and give up.  Eventually they’ll escalate and cut us out of the will.
  3. We might try withdrawing for a while; not seeing them, telling them we won’t return emails and calls, and then carrying through.  People usually shift from the first two tactics to this one when they see the effect of their toxic parents on their own children.  This tactic sometimes convinces nasty, mean, bullying parents that they’d better change their ways or they’ll lose contact with their grandchildren.  But the relentlessly toxic parents don’t care.  They’re sure they’re fine and they’re sure they’ll win if they push hard enough, like they’ve always won in the past.  So they don’t change and we go back to arguing or we give up or we finally respond more firmly.
  4. The next step is to withdraw for a long time, maybe forever – no contact.  It’s sad but we have to protect the family we’re creating from our own predatory parents.  It’s usually both scary and very exciting.  Most people, despite any guilt they feel, also feel a huge surge of relief, as if a giant weight or a fire-breathing dragon has been removed from their shoulders.  Our spouse and children may celebrate.  Get out of town, go on a vacation, turn the phones and email off.

What to expect and how to respond?

  1. They’ll attack when we withdraw.  Expect them to make angry calls and send hostile emails.  Save these on an external drive or a cheap recorder before deleting them.  They want to engage us, so do not engage endlessly and fruitlessly; no return calls or emails, no hateful or vindictive responses.  We’ve only gotten to this point because they haven’t changed after many approaches and warnings.  We might have to change our phone numbers to unlisted ones and change our email addresses.
  2. They’ll rally the extended family.  Prepare by making cue cards of what to say; no excuses or justifications.  Just tell the family what you said and did, and what you plan.  Ask them not to intervene.  Tell them we’d like to see them but only if our toxic parents are not present.  We’re sorry they’re caught in the middle but that’s life.  They do have to choose who to believe and what behavior to support.  Be prepared to withdraw from anyone who attacks or interferes.
  3. They’ll disinherit us.  When they can’t manipulate us through love, blame, shame and guilt, they’ll try greed.  If we don’t do what our toxic parents want right now, they’ll cut us out of the will.  Don’t be a slave to greed; it’s a deadly sin.  If we want to have a bully-free family life, we’ll have to make it on our own.  The real benefit is not merely ending the brutality, it’s the strength of character and the skills we gain when we make decisions for ourselves and chart our own course in the world.  We’ll end the negativity, stress, anxiety and depression usually caused by toxic parents.  We’ll develop the strength, courage, determination, perseverance and resilience we all need to make wonderful lives.  We’ll be able to express our passion and joy without cringing, waiting for the next blow to fall.
  4. We’ll have an empty space in our lives.  Even more than the empty physical space we’ll now have at the times when we used to get together with our toxic parents, we’ll have a huge mental and emotional space.  How many hours have we wasted thinking about our parents, worrying about the next episode, dreading what might happen next, agonizing over what to do.  We don’t have to do that any more.  Of course, being weaned from an old habit takes a little time.  We must be gentle with ourselves.  Focus on the freedom we now have.  Now we can think about the things we want to think about; not about pain and suffering, not about past failures.  Now we have space to bring into our lives people who will be part of the tribe of our heart and spirit.
  5. Our children will wonder why.  Tell the kids in a way that’s age appropriate.  Are we protecting them from the verbal abuse of their toxic grandparents or from lies that paint us as bad people?  They’ll want to know what’s going to stay the same.  Will they have fun, celebrate holidays, get presents, have extended family?

The most important lessons we offer our children are not through books and lectures.  Those are important, but the most important ones are the ones they see in our behavior when we’re models of behavior we want them to learn.

Be a model for them of someone who protects himself and them from anyone who would target them, even someone who’s close by blood.  Being close by behavior counts more than blood.  Show them not to be victimized even by blood relations.

Show them to how to be the hero of their lives.

With expert coaching and consulting, we can look at individual situations and plan tactics that are appropriate to us and to the situation.  We can overcome the voices of our fears and self-bullying.  We can overcome childhood rules to endure whatever bullying and abuse our toxic parents dish out simply because they’re our parents.  We can become strong and skilled enough to stop bullies in their tracks – even if those bullies are blood relatives. “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” has many examples of children and adults getting over their early training and freeing themselves from toxic relationships.  For more personalized coaching call me at 877-8Bullies (877-828-5543).

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
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State laws and school policies are necessary, but they’re not enough to stop school bullies.  The third necessary ingredient is the responsible people who are paid to make schools safe.  If teachers, psychologists and counselors, assistant principals, principals, district administrators and school board members don’t create effective school programs and don’t enforce the laws and policies, perpetrators will be freed and their targets will be victimized. According to the ABC News and investigative reporter Theresa Marchetta, Caitlin Smith was sexually assaulted in the final days of a summer program for incoming freshman at Englewood High School in a Denver, Colorado suburb.  The evidence seemed clear-cut and, indeed, a court recently found the boy guilty of unlawful sexual contact with no consent.

The school had suspended him for the last three days of the summer program but what happened when school started in the fall?

The story is titled, “District Policies Fail Teen Victim: Guilty Attacker Remains in School.”

In summary, the victim was ostracized and the perpetrator was allowed to roam free.

  • In order for Caitlin to be allowed to enter school, the vice principal had the Smiths sign a “No-Contact Notice” which reads, "You have been involved in an incident that may be criminal in nature," and suspects can not "harass, threaten, annoy, disturb, follow or have verbal/physical contact with any victim or witness in this incident.”
  • The perpetrator was immediately allowed back in school with Caitlin in the fall.  He did not sign a No-Contact Notice and was still allowed back in school.  This is despite a statement by Englewood Superintendent Sean McDaniel that, "I think that [the No-Contact Notice] would be a piece on the perpetrators side not on the victim’s side."
  • On Caitlin’s first day back in school, she was taken right back to the scene of the attack.  "They guaranteed they wouldn’t take me down that hallway. I was freaking out, crying, upset.  I didn’t want to go through, was closing my eyes,” she said.  School authorities asked Caitlin’s mother to keep her daughter out of school.  She reports that, "They're asking me to hold my daughter out of school and giving an education to a child [the bully] who shouldn't even be there."
  • To deal with such incidents, the Englewood School District has policies “which clearly states, multiple times, what happened to Caitlin was a ‘level one’ offense, ‘those which will result automatically in a request for expulsion to the superintendent.’”
  • When Marchetta asked Superintendent McDaniel, “Should a student be expelled or consider being expelled for having unwanted sexual contact with a student?" he replied, "Absolutely, no question.  Sexual contact?  I would expect an administrator to suspend with a recommendation for expulsion.  Then, that would land in my office.”  But he then admitted that the perpetrator was allowed to remain in school without even signing the No-Contact Notice and that now, over six months after the incident, he didn’t know what the principal was doing about the situation.
  • When Superintendent McDaniel was asked, “theoretically speaking, if it would ever be acceptable for a student accused of committing such an offense to remain in the population during the proceedings, he answered, ‘That’s a great question.  No,’ [he added], ‘In that scenario to just to turn the kid loose back in to the student population with no requirements, parameters?  No, I can not foresee a situation like that.’"  But he then admitted that the perpetrator was allowed to remain in school without even signing the No-Contact Notice.

Parents and students need to know what to do after such an incident:

  • Don’t hide; make a fuss.  Immediately go to the appropriate school authorities and the police.  That’s like we encourage victims to report rape immediately.
  • Don’t stop at being polite, sweet and docile; at being a “good girl.”  Immediately, find out what the school policies and state laws are.  Ask for what you need and be prepared with consequences for authorities who won’t act.
  • Find and rally other students and parents who have been harassed, bullied or abused – emotionally, sexually or physically.  If any other kids excuse the perpetrator’s behavior and tell you that you’re being too harsh or if any other kids hassle, threaten or bully you, report them.  Record evidence; that’s what cell phones are for.  Travel with your friends.
  • Give the school principal, therapist, district administrator and school board members one chance to act strongly.  Do they rally other students to protect you?  Do they deal swiftly with friends of the bully who harass you?  Don’t be put off by stalling tactics.  Be strong, brave and firm.  Read “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids.”
  • If the authorities won’t act, immediately get a lawyer skilled in both the pertinent laws and in how to bring media pressure to bear.  Plan an overall strategy and tactics.
  • Get an expert coach or therapist to keep your spirits up and to rally your strength and determination.
  • Don’t accept bullying; don’t take the blame.  In most cases the girl is not a “slut” or “whore” that others will call you.  It’s usually not your fault.  You should know that if the school authorities won’t act, they’re the problem, not you.  You don’t have to be perfect according to their standards in order for them to actively help you.  Don’t indulge in self-bullying.  Negative self-talk, blame, shame and guilt never help.  They only increase anxiety, stress and depression, and destroy confidence and self-esteem.  Don’t believe negative predictions; your life isn’t ruined and in 10 years you won’t want to be friends with your high school classmates – certainly not the hyenas who pile on.

Isn’t it amazing that this happened in a Denver suburb near where the Columbine High School shootings occurred?

As you can see, state laws and school policies are necessary to give principals and administrators the leverage to act safely without fear of law suits by bullying parents of school bullies.  But the responsible authorities must be willing to act courageously, energetically, skillfully and effectively.  When they don’t, laws and policies become scraps of paper, blowing in the wind of their excuses.

Since the principal and district administrator didn’t protect a target of such bullying and abuse, I predict that there have already been other incidents at Englewood High School and there will be in the future.  Bullies are predators.  They look for easy prey and they push the boundaries.  Once one hyena gets away with boundary pushing – darting in, ripping off some flesh and darting back safely – the rest of the pack will pile on.

In addition to the perpetrator and his family, the principal and district administrator have a lot to answer for.  I hope a public outcry focuses on them.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
TagsABC, ABC News, abuse, abused, accused, administrators, annoy, anxiety, assaulted, attack, attacker, authorities, Behavior, blame, Board, boundaries, brave, Bullied, bullies, bully, bullying, Caitlin Smith, cell phones, classmates, coach, Colorado, Columbine, Columbine High School, committing, confidence, consent, consequences, contact, counselors, courageously, court, criminal, crying, daughter, Denver, depression, determination, District, disturb, docile, education, effectively, emotionally, energetically, enforce, Englewood, Englewood High School, esteem, evidence, excuses, expelled, expert, expulsion, family, fault, follow, free, freed, friends, guaranteed, guilt, guilty, harass, Harassed, harsh, hassle, high school, incident, incidents, investigative, laws, lawyer, Marchetta, McDaniel, media, negative, offense, ostracized, parameters, parents, perpetrator, perpetrators, physical, physically, police, policies, polite, predators, Predict, predictions, pressure, principals, problem, programs, protect, psychologists, rape, Report, reporter, requirements, ruined, safe, safely, scene, school board, School Bullies, schools, Sean McDaniel, self-bullying, self-esteem, self-talk, sexual, sexually, shame, shootings, skilled, skillfully, Smith, stalling, state, statement, stop school bullies, strategy, strength, stress, students, superintendent, suspend, suspended, Tactics, targets, teachers, teen, therapist, Theresa Marchetta, threaten, unlawful, upset, verbal, victim, victimized, witness
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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.”

Bullies at work can ruin a culture, destroy productivity and make your life miserable.  Many people focus only on bullying bosses, but I’ve seen just as many coworkers and employees use these bullying methods as I have managers and supervisors.  Before you read the top ten I’ve seen, please think for a moment.  What bullying methods used by whom, have you seen most? Have you seen these techniques ruining your workplace?

  1. Yelling, physical threats (overt or subtle) and personal attacks.
  2. Verbal abuse, emotional intimidation, personal insults and attacks (in private and in public).  Put-downs and humiliating, demeaning, rude, cruel, insulting, mocking and embarrassing comments.  False accusations (especially outrageous), character assassination.
  3. Harassing 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 given with 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, evading, hypocrisy and exposing your problems and mistakes.
  5. Taking the credit; spreading the blame.  Withholding information and then cutting you down for not knowing or for failing.
  6. 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.
  7. Hypersensitive, over-reactions, throwing tantrums (drama queens) – so you walk on egg shells, back off in order to avoid a scene, or beg forgiveness as if you really did something wrong.
  8. Dishonest evaluations – praising and promoting favorites, giving slackers good evaluations and destroying careers of people the bully doesn’t like.
  9. Demeaning at meetings – interrupting, ignoring, laughing, non-verbal comments behind your back (rude noises, body language, facial gestures, answering phone, working on computer).
  10. Forming cliques and ganging up.  Turf wars about budgets, hiring, copiers and coffee machines.

Most bullies use combinations of these methods.

We’ve all seen the effects of bullies and the hostile workplace they create.  There’s increased hostility, tension, selfishness, turf wars, 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.  Promotions are based on sucking up to the most difficult and nasty people, not on merit.

Teamwork, productivity, responsibility, efficiency, creativity and taking reasonable risks are decreased.  The best people leave as soon as they can.

The wrong people or the wrong culture can always find ways to destroy the best operational systems. Your pipeline will leak money and your profits will plummet.

I’ll go into solutions in future posts, but I want to mention one frequently used tactic that does not work to stop dedicated bullies.  It’s based on the false assumption that if we – educate, explain, understand, reason, show the consequences, accept, forgive or make enough attempts to satisfy bullies – then they will become reasonable, civil, professional, friendly and good to work with.  That approach only stops people who are not really bullies, but have forgotten themselves one time and behaved badly.

Determined bullies don’t take your acquiescence as kindness.  They take your giving in as weakness and an invitation to grab for more.  Bullies bully repeatedly and without real remorse.  You won’t get a sincere apology from them.  A sincere apology doesn’t mean anything about how they look.  It means that they change and stop bullying.

I’d like to hear your horror or success stories.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
Tagsabuse, accept, accusations, aligned, anonymous, answering phone, apology, assumption, attacks, blame, body language, bosses, budgets, bullies, bullies at work, bully, bullying, bullying bosses, character assassination, civil, cliques, comments, comments rude, computer, consequences, contact, coworkers, creativity, credit, cruel, culture, cyber-bullying, demeaning, determined bullies, difficult, disabilities, dishonest evaluations, distorting, drama queens, e-mails, educate, efficiency, embarrassing, emotional, emotional intimidation, employees, evading, evaluations, explain, exposing, facial, facial gestures, forgive, forgiveness, friendly, ganging up, gender, gestures, gossip, harassing, hiring, hostile workplace, hostility, humiliating, hypersensitive, hypocrisy, ignoring, insulting, insults, interrupting, intimidation, isolated, jokes, laughing, legal, legal actions, lewd, lewd suggestions, lying, managers, manipulating, meetings, merit, methods, mistakes backstabbing, mocking, name-calling, nasty, non-verbal, non-verbal comments, operational systems, over-reactions, personal, personal attacks, personal insults, personal space, phone, physical, physical threats, privacy, private, problems, productivity, professional, profits, promotions, public, put-downs, race, reason, reasonable, reasonable risks, religion, remorse, responsibility, risks, rude, rude noises, rumors, satisfy bullies, selfishness, sexual, sexual contact, sick leave, slackers, solutions, stress, stress related disabilities, success, success stories, supervisors, systems, tantrums, teamwork, teasing, techniques, tension, threatening, threats, throwing tantrums, turf wars, turn over, understand, verbal, verbal abuse, weakness, work, working on computer, yelling
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