Workplace bullies, we all know them, but what are they. First let’s look at what bullying is. It is identified by repeated verbal abuse, aggressive behavior, work interference/sabotage, humiliation, or intimidation. These are all violations of another’s boundaries and are a common occurrence. Sources say that sixty percent of bullies are male and forty percent are females. Not surprising, nor is the fact that female bullies prefer to bully other women three to one. Men are equal opportunity abusers. Bullies were not taught to respect another’s boundaries, and may not have been taught, through example, to even be aware of other’s boundaries. Allowing this to continue is a form of enabling.
Boundary issues can develop in childhood like this:
- The baby cries out because it wants something, its success teaches it a control mechanism.
- Progressing, the parents say no to the child; the child escalates the cries to the level of tantrum; if the parents give-in that is a green-light to violate their boundaries.
- Aging further, whining replaces the crying, reminding the parents of the more severe control mechanism/boundary violation–the tantrum.
- Then with age comes the grown child’s mindset, e.g.: “Give me your possessions or body, or I shall take it. The bullied replies, “But it is not yours and you have not earned it.” To this the bully responds, “So what, I want it and that is enough!”
A diligent parent establishes clear boundaries to establish balance and respect, while not stifling the growth of their child.
OK, so we can see how many bullies are created. They are not taught to honor others and they don’t reap any consequences for their boundary violations.
Bullies are narcissistic calculating thinkers who lack qualities like empathy, compassion, or intimacy. Bullying is a learned and enabled behavior.
Watching others bully creates bullies, for example bullying: family members, peers, coaches, teachers, or bosses. “They do it with impunity, why can’t I?” This is easy to see. There is another more blatant bully that we don’t even recognize and it actually, creates, stimulates, enables and encourages bullying.
Bullying workplaces, corporate bullying is what I am speaking of. They bully each other, purchase politicians, and without question bully their employees. Not long ago our corporate environments were considered bastions of safety, teamwork, and a sort of family that was concerned about its team members and would take care of them through retirement. Now, pension funds are something to be legally stolen by raiders and execs, older higher salaried workers are replaced with younger lower paid ones. The corporate family is dead; it is every man and woman for themselves. In the past, an employee with numerous job changes was looked at as unreliable, now it is the norm. Why? Because there is no longer such a thing as allegiance to a company and the companies know why, their own disloyalty to their workers. And of course, “outsourcing” overseas because foreign workers are paid less shows how clearly allegiance to anything but the god of the almighty dollar–is dead. There are corporations that operate under the banner of bullying as the model to achieve goals. Short-term only, which is all corporation have become focused on. Long-term goals recognize the damaging effects of short term bullying. Our executives pre-plan their escapes with “golden parachutes,” while shareholders and employees are left facing golden showers.
Politics is no different. We see our political parties defame each other like never before, to the detriment of all. The last thirty years is the period of the ego, the “Its all about me,” generation. A chapter in my book, Men-The Gods of Love that delves into this dynamic is entitled, The King of Gluttony. Need I say more?
In conclusion, if we focus on the individual, we will never solve the problem in the group dynamic. Me, Me, Me is the battle cry of self-destruction, the death of the family, and civilization. Every one of us must become aware of this and effect change within our organizations and ourselves. . Bullying is win-lose, zero-sum thinking. It’s called zero-sum because that is the result for all when it is balanced out.