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Bullying isn’t confined to the playground

Bullying isn’t confined to the playground although some people still adopt playground behaviour and attitudes in the workplace.

This is an extract from (I have edited it slightly there are also female bullies so I’ve added female pronouns but kept American spelling)

Are you being bullied at work?
Would you like to fight back?
Bullies, backstabbers and manipulators

Is there someone at your workplace who makes you feel anxious, frustrated or angry? Does that person seem intent on controlling your behavior against your will? Does he belittle, embarrass or even humiliate you?

With most people, if you make the effort, you can usually get along. Problems arise and are solved. But what if your boss, or one of your co-workers, resists any attempt to have a normal, mutually respectful working relationship?

Maybe s/he is overly critical or micromanaging. S/He seems intent on intimidating or controlling you. Or s/he appears to support you one day, then undermines you the next. You find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster. You feel confused and manipulated. You feel like you are alone in an increasingly painful struggle against her/his clever, self-serving, destructive behaviors. Your job has become an ordeal and there seems to be no way out.

If this is your situation, then you are probably dealing with a workplace bully.

Over 30 million bullied

You’re not the only one. Roughlya quarter of employed Americans have reported bullying at work. That’s over 30 million people.

Unfortunately, most targets of bullying lack the knowledge and skills to effectively respond. Either they don’t understand the cause of their problems, or they don’t realise that it’s possible to fight back. That’s over 30 million easy targets. No wonder that bullies act with such smug confidence in their ability to dominate others.

In reading this website, you can separate yourself from the crowd. You can learn the skills and techniques to neutralize or even overcome the bully in your life.

Or at the least you can become a less rewarding target, and maybe s/he’ll go ruin someone else’s day. is dedicated to advancing the understanding of workplace bullies, backstabbers and manipulators, and to providing the tools to effectively deal with their aggressive behaviors. (Alternatively you can book counselling sessions with GTC Counselling – face to fcew or online).

What is a workplace bully?

On its surface, bullying is a simple concept. A strong person acts harshly towards someone weaker, and the bullying is blatant and habitual. It includes browbeating and threatening, verbal abuse and yelling. everyone recognizes that person as a bully.
Obvious bullies ultimately fail

An obvious bully is noisy, overly aggressive and blatent in her/his attempts to force others to comply with her/his will. Resist her/him and s/he attacks like an ill-bred pitbull. In some toxic workplaces, s/he may survive for years, or even become a high-level executive.

But usually s/he will get her/himself fired. His nasty over-the-top bullying is just too obvious. This simple, stupid version of bullying is rarely a path to sustained success in the American workplace.
Beware the clever bully

Because of this, a successful workplace bully is usually much cleverer in her/his tactics. S/He rarely resembles the stereotype. Her/His methods are very subtle, disguised with all the right behaviors.

In that lies her/his treachery. People respect and trust ner/him, and he quietly betrays their trust whenever necessary to fulfill her/his ambitions. For her/him, the ends always justifies the means.

And if the bully is particularly good at this, no one except her/his victims sees the betrayals. In some cases, not even the victims realize what has happened.
It gets worse and worse…

To make matters worse, a highly skilled bully usually has the dedication, focus and business acumen to create success, or at least the appearance of success. Then s/he is honored and promoted, held up as an example of a company-centric leader. S/He is rewarded while the frustration builds among the targets of her/his bullying and intimidating, backstabbing and manipulating. For them, life has become an upside-down hell..

Beyond the traditional definition of “bully”

A skilled, clever bully displays an elaborate, complex set of behaviors to exploit people around her/him. Those who only consider bullying to be blatantly aggressive behavior are missing the point. Any habitual pattern of intentional, socially cruel behavior is bullying, including the subtle tactics of deceit, distortion, misreprentation and misdirection. When the penalty for resisting someone is destruction of your position and reputation, it’s fair to describe that person as a bully.

Using this broad definition, bullying has reached epidemic proportions in the American workplace.

Accidental vs. intentional bullying

Not everyone who displays bullying behaviors can truly be described as a workplace bully. If someone has genuine concern for your well-being, s/he may be attempting to influence your behavior for your own good. Just because you don’t like her/his approach doesn’t make him a bully.

Or someone may yell at you in frustration. But perhaps s/he lacks emotional maturity and is overreacting to a stressful situation. An isolated incident doesn’t prove bullying. Good-hearted people often make mistakes.

In contrast, a workplace bully has self-serving goals with a complete lack of respect or caring for others, who s/he never considers as equals. And among these moral and intellectual inferiors, s/he feels free to use any means necessary to gain compliance. It is her/his perpetual intention to dominate those s/he considers to be weak, naive, unaware or otherwise susceptible to his guile.

The Thief of Time

The date of my last blog indicates the amount of procrastination which has gone on since then. Why haven’t I written anything in my blog since? A good question – laziness, fear of success, fear of failure, boredom, self-sabotage, creating the opportunity to fail on my own terms (i.e. failing to complete something I’ve started), finding too many distractions, I couldn’t think what I could write about! All these, apart from the last one were reasons given at a recent workshop on procrastination that I attended. Why wasn’t I writing this blog instead of attending a workshop on procrastination? Yet another distraction from what I could be doing!

There was some good advice given:

• Schedule half an hour per week to consider what is to be done. It MUST be written! You may then get the satisfaction of ticking them off (or not!) as you do them instead of just thinking about them .
• Utilise the visualisation technique of the ‘best case scenario’. Write it out and then read it out imagining the feelings and sensations you will have as a result of completing the task. This then works as an incentive to do it.
• Set upon a task and give your ‘self’ a reward when completed – put that cup of coffee off until it’s finished not half way through. Cups of coffee are just distractions to avoid doing what needs to be done.Have the cup of coffee as a reward.

The workshop was delivered by Jo Usmar, a journalist and co-author of the ‘This Book Will …..’ series – This Book Will Make you Calm/Confident/Happy and the forthcoming book This Book Will Make You Mindful. Jo is an advocate of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which as a person centred counsellor I’m not a great fan of, particularly as it relies upon the individual obeying commands – like ‘write down’, ‘should’ and ‘must’. As those who live a ‘person centred life’, or at least try to, will appreciate we haven’t ‘got’ to do anything. We always have a choice. We can choose to do something or we can choose not to. The choice we need to make is the one which is ‘in our best interest’. So whilst the statements above are relevant and helpful to overcoming procrastination such words need us to be a parent, or other authoritative figure, to our ‘self’. How do you react to authority? Do you baulk at it? Do you become stubborn? Does it trigger the damaged inner child in you? Chances are that you do and it does. Or, perhaps you are very obedient, just like you were as a child.

We need to be kind and understanding of our ‘self’. After all, if we procrastinate now we have probably been procrastinating most of our life so we are going to need (not have) to change the habit of a lifetime and that won’t be easy. We need to have an understanding of our ‘self’ and appreciate why we are where we are at. We have been subject to years of conditioning and life experiences which we have done our very best to ‘manage’ without any previous experience and therefore knowledge of how to do it. We’ve made choices, even if at the time we didn’t realise that’s what we were doing. It’s important to recognise these were choices. Some may not have turned out as we would have wished or were not in our best interest but they were not mistakes! Regarding them as mistakes gives us another opportunity to criticise and blame our self. We can make it even worse by believing that we did it out of stupidity. Perhaps having been told, as a child, that we were stupid. Hopefully we will have learned from the experience. If we haven’t it’s not too late – we can do that now! We may just not have been aware that there was an alternative – or we did but chose to ignore it. Sometimes we don’t learn and keep making the same choice and wonder why nothing changes and we get the same negative feelings. As Einstein said ‘Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Time for plan B!

So why do we procrastinate? Is it something other than the reasons given previously? Is there an underlying cause? Why would we do this to our ‘self’? What does it suggest about how we regard our ‘self’ and our feelings for our ‘self’? It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that it is probably not a lot! Would we treat someone else in the same way that we treat our self? We also focus on the possible snags and difficulties which put us off going ahead which then cause us to believe that we’re not good enough to do it or that it will be too difficult. The things we do when we procrastinate confirm the belief that we are failures that we’re incapable of doing the things we think interminably about. We may start but we fail to finish and are able to give one or several reasons why we were unable to complete the task proving to our ‘self’ that all our fears were well founded. We’re right every time! Our thoughts are self-fulfilling prophesies. Not having a high regard for our ‘self’ indicates our belief in our poor self-worth and a low self-esteem.

So, instead of setting our ‘self’ up for another failure, or just further procrastination, how are we going to fulfil our goals? The most important thing to do is to set an achievable goal however simple. High jumpers don’t start with the bar at two metres, they enter the competition at a height they know they can achieve and build up to it. Start with a simple task. Having succeeded, congratulate yourself and perhaps give yourself a reward. (You can now have that cup of coffee!) But most of all acknowledge your achievement. Gradually take on bigger achievable goals slowly building up your confidence and with it your feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Eventually you may take on even more challenging tasks but, hopefully, if you don’t succeed the first time you will have gained such greater understanding of yourself that you won’t beat yourself up but will be able to reflect and recognise why you didn’t succeed and know how to put it right. You will then be able to approach the same task with greater information and understanding.

As the Nike tag line says ‘Just do it!’ – but don’t set the bar too high!


This is a time of year when relationships can get strained. It can happen for a variety of reasons. It may be that we are thrust together as a family with the pressure that we ‘should’ be happy and joyful and we’re disappointed that it doesn’t turn out as we ‘expected’ (See January 16, 2011). It may be that merely being together for a longer period of time than usual allows any irritations normally overlooked to become unbearable. Perhaps we then vent our frustration with sometimes disastrous effect. It’s not only family relationships that sometimes falter and it may not happen only at Christmas and New Year. Relationships with work colleagues, bosses and our friends can sometimes become difficult. Perhaps we can’t work out why it is happening. We might look for reasons or excuses or we might ‘blame’ the person with whom we are having difficulty relating. If we resort to the latter we are putting our self in the position of victim. We are saying they are doing something to me which I don’t like. It’s their fault! We absolve our self of all responsibility. The bad news is that, at best, this will be only fifty per cent correct. We need to acknowledge and accept our responsibility in the situation.

How do we so that? Where do we start? Well we first need to look at the primary relationship – the one we have with our self. Sounds stupid? Well it isn’t. It’s the one relationship we are most likely to take for granted and unless we’ve spent time on introspection – done a bit of ‘naval gazing’ – we won’t understand. We perhaps assume that it’s something we can’t do anything about. We might even have the attitude – ‘This is the way I am – if you don’t like it you can lump it!’ or, perhaps, ‘My father/mother was like this and so was his father/mother before him/her. If it was good enough for them it’s good enough for me’! One wonders how their spouses felt about it. Perhaps they kept quiet and live(d) in fear of upsetting them or perhaps not. We also need to look at how like our parents we are. Can you hear one or other of your parents as you speak to your children? Are you repeating the behaviours of your parents? Perhaps you are ‘parental’ towards other adults. (See Blog June 24 2011) It’s OK if our behaviours are positive and in our own best interest but we need to be aware of the possibility of our passing on negative behaviours (See ‘Mirror Image’ Blog 11/09/10 and Philip Larkin’s Poem – ‘This be the Verse’ We need to gain an understanding of our self and raise our self awareness. Being defensive about our behaviour when it is challenged is often a knee jerk reaction and an indication that we have insecurity about it. We’re perhaps not sure our self about it. In which case we need to check it out and get an understanding of it. We then have a choice. If it’s in our best interest we can adopt it as our own rather than something we’ve ‘inherited’ from one or other of our parents, but if it isn’t we can dump it. Either way whenever we are challenged in a similar way again we will respond with confidence and in a positive manner.

We have been influenced so much by our parents initially and then by other significant adults, organisations media etc.. We are all different – even children of the same parents. Do you have brothers and sisters? Are they older, younger, are you the oldest or youngest or somewhere in between? Were you an only child? Each will have quite different perspectives of their parents and, as a result, life in general. Were your parents able to express their love and affection towards you? How was it expressed? Were there plenty of hugs and kisses or were you left to your own devices? Perhaps your parents had difficulty in expressing emotion and gave you material things as a substitute. Did you feel loved? Did you feel valued and appreciated? Did you get what you needed? We need to be realistic about the parenting we experienced, to be honest about it, not in order to beat our parents up but to recognise that they were doing the best they could knowing what they knew. Then, we need to recognise the aspects of our experiences which could have been better or with which we could have done without. It is impossible for parents to give their children everything they need so it is important to recognise what you didn’t get but would have liked to have had. It’s not too late you can now give it to yourself and to your children. You can learn to love, appreciate and value yourself.

The better we understand our self the better we understand others. As a result there will be changes and then we may be amazed to see that others whom we know well or meet also appear to change. It may be that they appear to change because we now see them differently or it may be that they change their attitude towards us in response to the ‘new me’ or, it may be a combination of both. Whatever our perspective of life it will change and the horizon will broaden. This concept isn’t new, Socrates the Greek philosopher (c. 469 BC – 399 BC) spoke of the concept of ‘knowing oneself’. If you are interested in finding out more you can find a very clear and simple explanation at –