Alice’s mother, Helen, was a critical perfectionist.  Nothing was ever good enough; nothing was done right; nobody could please her, no matter how hard they tried.  She’d been that way as long as Alice could remember and Alice had lived in fear of her mother’s attacks at least as long. There had been hundreds of incidents before, but the one that finally pushed Alice over the line was at Helen’s retirement from work when she was seventy.  Helen said she didn’t want a party.  Alice argued; seventy and retiring were big events, Helen deserved a big celebration, the family wanted to get together.  But Helen was adamant, so Alice gave in and made no plans.

The night before her retirement, Helen called Alice and asked when the big party was; she’d been given no details and Alice was a lousy daughter for not planning a party exactly the way Helen wanted.

Alice was stunned but managed to get her brain working.  Hurriedly she picked the following Saturday for the event.  Alice asked Helen who she wanted invited and what she wanted at the party.  Helen said that anything would do, she wasn’t picky.

Alice ignored a nagging feeling that she was being set up as usual.  She did her best.  She invited all the family and a few friends Helen had from work.  She organized a potluck.  On the big night, there was plenty of food and everybody seemed to have a good time.

The next morning her mother called Alice and started abusing her.  Nothing had been right at her party.  She’d invited all the wrong people, had all the wrong food, the party was too small and there was not enough praise for Helen’s long years of hard work.  Helen was mortified that Alice was such an incompetent and miserable hostess, and an uncaring, unloving daughter.

Because Alice had sought coaching previously, she was prepared.  Something in her snapped.  After all these years of submitting to her mother’s abuse, Alice had had enough.

She said she had a new rule when facing a bullying control-freak: just say “No.” No more hiding things and pretending; Helen was mean, nasty and no fun.  No more looking the other way; no more colluding or enabling Helen’s behavior.  No more planning for Helen.  If Helen wanted to see her, she’d have to stop that behavior immediately.  If she needed therapy, she should go get it.

Before Helen could interrupt, Alice went on.  She was not going to open herself to the usual abuse Helen heaped on her every year so her mother wasn’t invited to have Christmas with them.  Alice and her family were gong to relax and enjoy the holidays without any complaining, sarcasm or put-downs.  Then she said good-bye.

Alice immediately called everyone in the family and told them what she’d told her mother.  Of course, they knew how Helen had always been.  Now that a heroine had stepped forward, a few who had always submitted and endured Helen’s past behavior were willing to support Alice by agreeing with her in public and even telling Helen what they thought of her behavior.

With her own children and their families, Alice also insisted on a new family rule: When someone tries to do something nice for you, just say “Thank you.”

Of course, Alice was soon smitten with guilt and self-bullying.  She thought she’d gone too far and she really was ungrateful and unloving.  She’d expected those thoughts and had planned not to act on them.  She took a cold shower instead.  And she stuck to her plan.

It was scary for her to stand up for her own standards; to act in public like the person she wanted to be.  But she kept herself on track by remembering she was setting a good example for her children and their spouses.  Later, she was kept on track by the pleasure she felt when her children and some of her extended family started saying “thank you” instead of complaining.

Critical perfectionists come in all sizes and shapes, create hundreds of different situations and attack in many overt and covert ways.  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.

Work bullies can ruin a culture, destroy productivity and make your life – and the lives of everyone else they target – miserable. And it’s not just bullying bosses who are the problem.  Co-workers and employees also use bullying behavior that creates a hostile workplace.

Excluding lethal weapons, here are the top dozen techniques bullies use to ruin a workplace.

To read the rest of this article from the Dallas Business Journal, see: Don’t let bullies create a hostile workplace

Most bullies use combinations of these methods.  The relentless application of these harassing, abusive techniques reinforces humiliation, pain and fearCliques and mobs rapidly form. Bullying can make the targets feel helpless and situations seem hopeless.

These methods cause 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 of bullying.

Effort is diffused instead of aligned.  Teamwork, productivity, responsibility, efficiency, creativity and taking reasonable risks are decreased.  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.

Your operational system may look wonderful on paper, but the wrong people in the wrong culture can always find ways to thwart it.  Your pipeline leaks money and profits plummet.

A common mistake in dealing with repeated bullying is to spend much too much time and effort trying to educate, explain, understand, accept, forgive, beg, bribe, ignore, reason with or appease themThese approaches won’t convert dedicated bullies into reasonable, civil and professional people. These approaches only stop people who aren’t really bullies, but have behaved badly one time.

During the time well-meaning or conflict-avoidant supervisors, human resource and civil rights professionals are trying these techniques to educate or rehabilitate bullies, they’re actually victimizing everyone else in the organization.  The monetary and emotional cost of tolerating or enabling bullies can be astronomical.

Determined bullies don’t take your understanding and acquiescing as kindness. They take your giving in as weakness and an invitation to abuse you more.  Bullies bully repeatedly and without real remorse.  They might appear to apologize sincerely, but you should accept only behavioral change, not good acting.

The best way to stop a bully is to stand up to them.  Expose and isolate them.  Or catch them doing something outrageous or illegal in front of witnesses.  Stopping them and having serious consequences for repetitions are also the greatest stimuli for change.

Learn what you can do to eliminate the high cost of hostile attitudes, behavior and performance.

All tactics are situational.  Expert coaching and consulting can help you create and implement a plan that fits you and your organization.