March 16th, 2012

Here’s the real reason you are being bullied …


It’s been a relatively quiet week here at WBI. Dr. Namie is traveling and, aside from some activity in Canada, there’s not much media about workplace bullying. We couldn’t finish the week without reaching out to all of you, so I thought I would try to explain why you are being bullied.

A little background: I answer the phone here at WBI and talk with many Targets about their experiences. Early in our conversations I usually hear questions and hypotheses about the bullies motives. Its easy to see that Targets spend many hours trying to dissect and understand how their own behavior triggers the attacks and plays into the bullies motivation.  After being under the thumb of a bully, thoughts and self-doubting like this is completely understandable.

This is when I break the news, explaining the reason, the real reason, you are being bullied.

Because the bully is irrational. He or she has chosen to torment you. The bully needs control.

That’s it.

Since the behavior itself is irrational, you will not be able to flesh-out a reason for the mistreatment. Don’t beat yourself up because an unrepentant aggressor is threatened by you.

Targets dare to be independent, they are more competent , they are well liked, they are ethical, honest, not political in the workplace. All these qualities make you a great employee and a great person.

Emotional intelligence and empathy are also characteristics of a Target. You try to understand what the bully goes through. It makes you willing to change yourself and be more accommodating. Don’t try to change yourself in order to appease the bully — it will not work.

Be selfish. Make your health the priority and enjoy the support of your family and friends while working towards a place that appreciates and protects you.

Hope you have a great weekend.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012 at 2:23 pm and is filed under Fairness & Social Justice Denied. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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  • lisa kendall-powers

    Great perspective! It is SO important for people to realize reactions to bullying usually occur as an identifier of on going, abusive action taking place….I have experienced bullying from birth. It is the song that never ends and must be coming from an organized structured dept. of big bullies. It has kept me in my place quite effectively…for years….in a uniform with a fashion merchandising degree and a silent gift for language.

  • momatend

    Thanks. This is helpful. Hope you have a great weekend too!

  • Al Thomson

    liked your straight forward statements about why I’m bullied. encouragement of this sort is better than some of the glurge people suggest, because sometimes it’s impossible to fight back. (I still say “never give up”) in my case, friends and family aren’t much help, which makes it even more of a challenge, not to mention my Agency’s well-armed legal department.
    I’m particularly concerned about interagency action to protect my Agency (OPRHP) – parks. , Also being forced to pretend I’m protected, by agreeing (forced to agree) to take Workplace Violence Prevention. When I originally refused, they tried to make me sound dangerous and forced me to submit to psych and physical exams, which comfirmed I could return to work.
    looking for lawyers, I notice a lack of lawyers to take a case like mine, even experienced mean hostility. perhaps Drs. Namie could provide a list of firms that specialize in Bullying cases.
    I might add that forcing me to take the above mentioned examinations caused co-workers to be concerned about me. some even commended me for speaking up about a very abusive boss.
    Although I work in a State Park on Long Island, it’s clear from testimony that Albany intervened to move her to a new position as “Regional Safety Officer” of all things. Odd they couldn’t do the same for targets and victims.
    I just wonder if these sorts of documented antics could be publicized in some way to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of filing written complaints, as well as an Agency’s (or other business’) efforts to help the bully, instead of the targets. I’ve already published some of this online at Yahoo and on Facebook for the sake of other victims as well as myself.
    I think that major publications should accept the challenge to put these sorts of situations into print when legally feasible. In some cases, the public might even be outraged, especially if they knew how tax money was wasted to give me a “free vacation” while waiting to undergo mandatory medical exams.
    I did, indeed, quote FBI reports on workplace abuse leading to suicide and workplace homicide, but only to support my position that ignoring a bully can lead to such things happening. (they even admitted I made no such threat) FYI this happens to be the only thing that Albany ever did for/”to” me in regards to this case. They seem to have an unusual motivation to protect abusive people.
    In closing, I urge you to supply some links to lawyers who can help, as well as suggestions how we can get some of these stories into main stream media. (suicide & mass murder by “disgruntled” employees shouldn’t be the only option – it’s not efffective, anyway).
    Thanks for your time and feel free to write back if you choose. I was glad to have the opportunity for input. Your site is always a good encouragement for us. Sincerely. A.P.T.

  • Wide-eye Doe

    I actually felt sorry for those that supported my tormentor. She got fired later and did not last a year in her new job. I felt that when she said I could not volunteer or do clinicals in the healthcare system would realize she was being a bully. One of her supporters was demoted and I actually felt sorry for her. The other 2 I wrote a Thank you for taking their time to hear the appeal and What I was sorry that Had to witness that type of behavior. I am sure They thought that was hilariously but I was sincere.

  • http://downfromtheledge.blogspot.com/ downfromtheledge

    at our core, all of us who have been targeted believe we deserved it. maybe not in our moments of righteous indignation at the way we were treated, but at some level. it eats us up inside, makes us want to crawl in a hole and die…as though WE were the ones in the wrong.

    my recent thoughts/writings on the matter:

    “if you no longer walked the earth, the ratio of people-who-give-a-damn to a**holes would skew further in the wrong direction. and i don’t want the a**holes to win.”

    • J.

      I can honestly say that I never thought I deserved it. I did not believe it when it was happening and I do not believe it now.

  • Bruce

    I found quitting my job and reloacating to a new job was a really good solution to being bullied. I now know for sure that I am a everything that this article says about targets. I am well liked and apprieciated in my new job. It’s not easy to find a new job, sell the home, relocate your family leave good friends behind but it is well worth it not to be bullied every day. I wish everyone that is going through this a positive way out. It is not easy, I know that for a fact.

  • Annette Watkins

    Thank you. Whilst reading this article I started to cry. To be given such a straight forward and simple answer is a relief. I am that target. Well liked, ethical. honest and a great person. All I ever wanted is to do my job to the best of my ability, Go home and be satisfied of my achievements for the day. Not being bullied to the point of being hospitalised, with chest pains, high blood pressure stress, anxiety and depression, being unable to work which adds even more stress because you have no money. its a vicious circle.
    Thanks again for the simple answer.

    • Eva

      In your boat. Thanks for the reply.

    • Al Thomson

      I thought about the simple solution of quitting several times. If you are in a retirement plan, you might be cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s yet another reason management would be glad if you quit. Since I did nothing to deserve being targeted, I’m not wringing my hands over why this happened. I recently published a story on Yahoo Voices called “Gotta Love Our Workplace Bully – Quit Whining You Victims” from a ficticious Manager’s perspective. In a semi-historical way, reading between the lines shows evidence of denial, mobbing, and self-delusion regarding some cases of bullying when protecting a public image is more important than a victim’s fate. My FB timeline page is public, a link to the story is posted for visitors’ and friends convenience. I was very stress resistant in the first place and feel angry about ending up with PTSD. For anyone in my position, I highly recommend EMDR therapy for anyone in the frame of mind to try something different. It worked wonders for me! I applaud those for whom quitting is a viable solution, but I’m stuck with what I’m doing for now due to retirement plans. Thanks to all who posted. Having a place to share our experiences is a great help and very encouraging to others.

  • TwilightZone

    This is why workplace bullying is so insidious. There is no reasoning with or stopping mentally disordered bullies. A lot of organizations have got a proverbial inmate or two running the asylum. They are disturbed, manipulative, and dangerous. Targets get to see the irrational side of the bully while the bully makes her or himself out to be a model employee to superiors. My ex-manager was a paranoid sadistic substance-abusing compulsive liar. My ex-supervisor showed signs of borderline personality disorder, flying into a rage one minute then laughing the next. None of this behavior was displayed in front of the director of course. He was not irrational per se but rather unduly influenced by the sycophantic attention of these two women.

    • http://www.mgmt-in-a-nutshell.com Jay Jacobus

      People who present one face to their superiors and another face to their employees are not disturbed. They are cunning and purposeful.

      • Joanna

        They are cunning, purposeful, outrageously disturbed, and frighteningly dangerous. they are the reason why we have people shooting each other in the workplaces/schools today.

      • TwilightZone

        Wrong adjective, especially since the people I’m referring to appear not to have a conscience. Hence it’s questionable if they even have the capacity to be “disturbed”.

      • J.

        I’ve known several of those people. I would like to add pathetic, lazy, and sycophantic. The enablers I experienced did not do what they did for free. They did the supervising bully’s bidding and she gave them a pat on the head and a little pay off. Most of them could be bought for very little – they were cheap.

    • kachina

      Or some wake up miserable and go to work wondering who did t to them…and there YOU are. They knew that somebody else was responsible for their misery, and there you are, acting like you have nothing to do with it. Ha! Now what are they going to do about THAT! …and what are you going to do about it?

      • TwilightZone

        Sorry, I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at. There is nothing more I could have done to defend myself against these sociopaths…the power imbalance was too great. I finally threw in the towel after wearing myself down trying to fight back. Yes, I’m angry over being mistreated and that there are creeps all over getting away with such cruelty. It hits home for me the need to work towards a healthy workplace bill.

      • kachina

        The point I was trying to make is that whatever it is that drives the bullying has nothing to do with you. And there’s no way you can prevent their irrational behaviours toward you. You tried and suffered until you couldn’t do it any more. Don’t beat yourself up…take good care of yourself.

        I’m so sorry for what happened to you. You did nothing to deserve it.

  • Sarah Stephenson

    Until a law is passed to make this behaviour illegal, nothing will be done. Employers will not act against bullies unless there is a legal compulsion to do so. There is a long way to go. Anti bullying policies are a start but the process for bringing a case must be more streamlined.

    Bullies often receive promotion (sometimes with a nominal title)and are ‘kept on.’ There is no legal status for victims of same sex or same race bullying.

    • http://www.mgmt-in-a-nutshell.com Jay Jacobus

      We should push companies to adopt colaborative management because all parties win.

      Next best is compromising management because sometimes you get part of what you want.

      The worst is competetitve management because employees must be either accommodating or avoiding. Employees that try to be collaborative end up losing all the time.

      Suing is competitive because the employee wins only if the company loses. Suing is never collaborative.

      • http://www.mgmt-in-a-nutshell.com Jay Jacobus

        I should point out that when the company has a competitive management, suing is the only way the employee can win (or not lose).

      • http://www.mgmt-in-a-nutshell.com Jay Jacobus

        Also, judges should recognize that competitive management styles force the employee to sue or go on losing over and over again.

        The law suit itself is evidence that the company has a competitive management style. This conclusion along with mental disorders and unemployability shoulld be enough to get a favorable verdict.

  • Marci

    I was just terminated from my job because I regularly approached my manager to do something about a coworker who not only bullied me but bullied other part-timers as well as customers. I was worn out, but I would have continued to take the personal attacks against myself; however, I was very upset that nothing was being done about this employee’s continual demeaning and discriminatory comments about minorities and mentally challenged customers of our store. I finally got so frustrated, and I found it hard to communicate with her (while the ‘bully’ got tighter with her, including taking breaks and lunches with the manager); therefore, she terminated me by phone, her reasoning being she felt like she had to walk on eggshells around me – basically I wasn’t playing in to this demeaning environment any longer. She admitted to me that it had nothing to do with my work ethics or the quality of my work at all. My manager was brainwashed by this bully coworker and I could not get her to understand this situation.

    Interesting fact here is that I my degree in psychology, and I’ve had management, conflict resolution, and verbal judo (for corrections work) trainings for supervisory positions I’ve held. But with my children grown I had decided to just work in a part-time setting – you know, settle back a little bit and enjoy a less stressful pace – and this all happened.

    I just wanted to tell you how much comfort I’ve found in the information on this site as well as your comments – I will no longer allow the bullying to continue within my own head. Now I can be free to let this all go and move on to something rewarding, not demeaning. Thank You!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QXXWUEZUDAGH2HABESC2O2YZ5Q Maria

    Thanks, I have recently quit my job due to this happening to me; it was more along the lines of mobbing, as 3 people were involved. I tried to quietly move to another work space only to have that sabotaged by my supervisor by telling my new work neighbors that I was nothing but “drama” – regardless of how good my work was or what I tried to do, the damage to my reputation and peoples overall perception of me had changed. I was already dealing with my Father’s death to suicide which took place last Christmas that I no longer wanted to work in a place where I was emotionally miserable and hurt. I have been off of work for about a week so far and part of me wants to share some bullet points of my experience via email with the Vice President/Publisher at my old job. However, I don’t want it to turn into a bigger mess than it already was for me. Any advice on this? Thanks, M

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