!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Recognizing and Dealing with Workplace Bullies

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Recognizing and Dealing with Workplace Bullies

In a presentation (pdf) Camilo Azcarate (University Ombuds Officer, Princeton University), Nicholas Diehl (Associate Ombuds, Princeton University), Howard Gadlin (Ombudsman, National Institutes of Health), and Patricia J. Lynch (Corporate Ombudsman, United Technologies Corporation) (ADGL) gave at the first annual International Ombudsman Association conference, held in April 2006, they cited ten characteristic behaviors of workplace bullies that managers need to be alert to. Below, somewhat edited is the ADGL list.

A workplace bully:
  1. is charming in public; this charm is used to seduce the victim with the aim of dominating and controlling.

  2. spreads rumors in private to reduce the victim’s power and damage his/her reputation.

  3. is apparently supportive in private but exposes the victim’s mistakes in public.

  4. distorts reality to make him/herself look good and the victim look bad.

  5. is hypocritical — says the right things but is exploitative and manipulative.

  6. is evasive, does not provide straight answers, and gets angry when confronted.

  7. is pompous and self-righteous and inflates his/her importance.

  8. is passive-aggressive. For example, the bully withholds information and works to isolate the victim.

  9. presents him/herself as a victim and blames others for his/her pain and suffering.

  10. pretends to care, and humiliates the victim under the guise of caring.
ADGL go on to cite several symptoms of possible bullying, namely:
  • high employee turnover

  • high use of sick time

  • increased stress-related disabilities
ADGL conclude with some strategies to consider for dealing with workplace bullies:
  • Be empathetic to the bully, listen to his/her perspective.

  • Offer coaching to the bully to change his/her behavior and view of reality.

  • Increase awareness in the organization of bullying behaviors.

  • Use care in hiring to avoid potential bullies; look for evidence that a candidate is capable of empathy.

  • Use care in promotion to avoid rewarding bullying behavior.

  • Make managers accountable for promoting a culture of interpersonal respect and emotional intelligence.

  • Provide training in interpersonal skills.
A more complete and detailed set of anti-bullying measures is provided in a BNET.com article published last year.


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