Why bullies get ahead at work

Uncategorized Aug 02, 2018

“Excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you,” says leadership speaker William Deresiewicz. Most of us who find ourselves bullied at work wonder how on earth the incompetent bullies get ahead while the competent and ethical targets stay at lower ranks with less pay and responsibility.

Here are two reasons why bullies get ahead at work:

  1. Our culture rewards narcissism and selfishness. We live in an oppressive culture where enough people believe those who think they’re more important and entitled than others — and allow toxic behavior. When a bully simply takes power and feels entitled to dictate, belittle, control, or manipulate the target by calling him or her “sensitive” or “emotional,” and we or leaders believe the dismissal of the target...
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Completely absurd reasons why bullies get ahead

Uncategorized Jul 31, 2018

So you have a reputation of being a go-to person at work. One who gets things done and gets them done well. One who wants your organization to be great.

But suddenly you look around, and it’s the selfish, incompetent ones clawing their way to the top while you’re stuck reporting to them, making less money than them, and getting bullied by them.

So what’s the deal? How did this illogical power structure become so common?

  1. They’re great at maneuvering. They kiss up and kick down, so those who promote them either don’t see the damage they cause or don’t care about the damage they cause, but everyone else does.
  2. They’re entitled. When bullies simply take power and feel entitled to dictate, belittle, control, or manipulate targets by calling them “sensitive” or “emotional,” and others believe the dismissal of the targets rather than hold the bullies accountable, bullies get ahead. But...
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There’s one group most likely to get bullied at work

Uncategorized Jul 24, 2018

If we were to create a workplace bullying target persona, she would be a 42-year old, college-educated, full-time, non-supervisory, non-union worker in healthcare, education, or the government, according to a 2013 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll.

Workplace bullying targets are most often motivated to help others. “They are prosocial, the do gooders. People entering those fields want to heal, help, teach, develop impressionable minds, and see the good in others. While focused on the work, with their backs figuratively turned to the politics and abusers in the workplace, they bring a vulnerability to attack. And like all targets, they only seek to be left alone to do the work they are paid to accomplish,” says WBI. And this mindset generally falls along gender and industry lines.

A WBI poll one year later verifies these claims. Bullied targets and witnesses said that those targeted with abusive mistreatment were often kind, giving,...

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Study shows “growing a thick skin” and confronting a workplace bully does absolutely nothing most of the time

Uncategorized Jul 17, 2018

Some say that how you respond to a bully from the first sign of abusive behavior might thwart off bullying behavior. But what happens when it takes time to detect the bullying behavior? Is the “grow a thick skin” mentality even logical based on what’s worked with workplace bullying targets?

In a 2013 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll, nearly 70 percent of respondents DID have a thick skin and confronted the bully. And in more than 93 percent of cases, confronting the bully did NOTHING to stop the bullying, regardless of whether they confronted the bully immediately or months later.

The conclusion is that growing a thick skin has no bearing on the bullying since abusers don’t stop when faced with resistance from their targets. So for those of you who assert that we don’t need a law because standing up to bullies will end it: you fall within a seven percent group that confronting bullies worked for. For the overwhelming majority, confronting...

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The truth on why workplace bullying happens

Uncategorized Jul 12, 2018

2012 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll reveals these top ten reasons as to why bullying in the workplace happens, according to targets and witnesses:

  1. Bullies are not punished and thrive.
  2. Laws to stop it are either absent or too weak to be useful.
  3. No one in the organization has the will to stop it.
  4. Coworkers stand idly by and fail to stop it.
  5. The workplace culture rewards cutthroat behaviors.
  6. A few hyper-aggressive individuals have psychological and social problems.
  7. Executives/owners/senior managers are the bullies.
  8. Bullying is part of the larger society and culture.
  9. Bullies follow orders from the top.
  10. No one in the organization has the power to stop it.

The top reasons dissected

  • The top of the top reasons are employer-focused. Employers set the culture for the work environment top-down. Without consequences for bullies and the will to stop bullying, bullies thrive. And without strong laws, employers won’t bother to hold bullies...
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How often an employer doesn’t believe a workplace bullying target

Uncategorized Jul 10, 2018

Often jealous of their targets, workplace bullies treat targets like they’re nuts. “People who find themselves trapped in a bullying scenario can attest to the crazymaking, irrational nature of the mistreatment. Much of the harm caused by the abusive conduct stems from the shattering of targets’ beliefs about fairness. First, they are typically the high performers who unknowingly trigger the envy of perpetrators. Targets are aware of their work skill at a deep personal ontological level. Perpetrators come into their lives who determined to reject the agreed upon perceptions of the targets’ skills,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).

How workplace bullies get away with their toxic behaviors
Here’s how others come to believe the target is the problem, not the bullying, according to WBI:

  • Abuse of power. “Perpetrators often use their formal (by organizational rank) or informal power to state the obviously opposite perception about...
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More than half of workplace bullying targets don’t move onto equal or better paying jobs. And yet workplace bullying is perfectly legal.

Uncategorized Jul 05, 2018

When workplace bullying happens, it’s not just the organization that suffers a financial blow. It’s also the workplace bullying target. In a 2011 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll, more than half of respondents who lost a job from workplace bullying said there either wasn’t a next job or they took a pay cut.

“To the 53 percent who suffered economic setback, we emphasize the benefit to personal health and sanity of leaving the toxic workplace. You were too good for that place anyway,” says WBI.

“The saddest fact is that over one-quarter of bullied targets were not able to replace their lost job. We know that bullying comes uninvited. No one asked to be intimidated or humiliated. Since the most veteran, competent workers are targeted, it is safe to assume that they once loved their jobs very much. They simply wanted to be left alone to do the work for which they were getting paid. But bullying displaced them and put them on the...

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How Ally went up against workplace bullying

Ally worked at a hotel from 2014-2018. Read her workplace bullying story in her words:

I was the Director of Sales, overseeing revenue for the property and creating relationships with clients and new accounts. Everything was fine when I began the job and even when we had gotten a new general manager later in 2014. About a year later in 2015, I noticed some changes, not only by our general manager’s (my boss') attitude towards tasks, but how other employees started to see her actions. Bullying began by calling me names and picking on my weight (looking too skinny). After the name calling and picking on appearance, she began to focus on my personal life, making comments regarding my relationship with my sister and even  about my home. As a general manager, you would have access to employees' addresses, but I would have never actually shown a photo of my home or where I live. As accounts were growing and we were booking more business, there was more of a workload,...

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Why “just leave” is absurd advice for a workplace bullying target

Uncategorized Jul 03, 2018

On Facebook, we’ve seen some people who’ve never been bullied at work (or more likely who are bullies themselves or aren’t vulnerable and emotionally tough enough to admit they’ve been bullied) tell workplace bullying targets to “just leave” their jobs if they don’t like them.

I ask those people: if you were to “just leave” your job today, what would be the consequences? In a 2013 poll, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) found the biggest barrier to a workplace bullying target “just quitting” was loss of income and the affordable, employer-provided, crucial-while-being-bullied health insurance that went along with it (40 percent of respondents).

The second most popular response, however, is the one I find most striking. In a close second, 36 percent of respondents said personal pride, the injustice of it all, and loving their actual jobs were the reasons they weren’t just going to up and leave. In other...

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What generally happens when workplace bullying targets report their cases to HR

Uncategorized Jun 28, 2018

We know some of you work in Human Resources (HR) and help workplace bullying targets. And for that, we thank you. However, the sad truth is that you are in a tiny minority of HR representatives who advocate for the target instead of management. 2012 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll revealed that HR stopped bullying fairly and completely for the target in only two percent of cases.

So in 98 percent of cases, either:

  • HR wasn’t helpful, and retaliation followed (37 percent)
  • HR did nothing (31 percent)
  • HR wasn’t helpful, and the target lost his or her job (18 percent)
  • HR was not told (12 percent)

The problem with putting the burden on HR to resolve workplace bullying issues in the first place is that not only do they represent management (so their hands are tied if they do want or try to help), but also workplace bullying is a leadership problem. The responsibility to craft a workplace bullying policy and enforce it is management’s, not...

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