Monday, April 18, 2011

O. Obstructive & outrageous behaviour. Workplace bullying

Bullying has nothing at all to do with class, race or gender but everything to do with a person who fears being seen and exposed as weak and inadequate. Bullies have low confidence and low self esteem, and may fear being revealed after having "been promoted to the level of their incompetence". They choose to do everything in their power to avoid their incompetence being exposed.  They are often highly stressed and afraid, although they cover this up with blustering, bravado and the appearance of being frenetically busy.

Exposing the angel might present something a lot more sinister.  
Street theatre. London 2007
Street theatre. Berlin 2009.




















Many enjoy power and control in a workplace and may be extremely charming in their devious, obstructive and manipulative ways to achieve this. They get a kick out of telling different stories to various groups and make each group feel more highly valued as if they are the only ones to have the important information. One group is chosen and preferred over the others. "I wouldn't tell this to ... but I'll let you in on it" - this creates an 'us and them' culture where manipulation and bullying can more easily and sneakily occur.  Groups may be played off against each other,  it's an example of 'divide and conquer'.

Those who see through this ruse are definitely in the outer group and may be frozen out of being given important information thus exposing them to ridicule when they appear to be incompetent.  Meeting schedules and agendas aren't forwarded in a timely manner, passwords to key files are given incorrectly, vital information is withheld. Sneaky, undermining obstruction prevents you doing the job you may well love. (Sorry, have loved - past tense.)

The bully has a need to discredit those who have observed their bullying behaviour as well as others who they see as more intelligent, competent, popular, enthusiastic or even calm. They haven't learnt to accept their responsibilities as a fully functioning adult.

Some behaviour is outrageous in its outright cheek. Initially, you may be asked to do a small personal favour. It's presented as if it's an honour - your skills and knowledge are special!   As a well functioning adult you are unaware of the potential for bullying and when the privilege of doing this work becomes arduous or eats into your private time, the bully becomes cajoling and manipulative.

For example, if the bully is also your supervisor, it's extremely difficult to back track and decline the little bit of unpaid extra typing for their private life or second job. This could evolve from typing a short letter, then expand over many years to include typing and editing a thesis or producing class notes for their own benefit. You've been conned. When you become aware of what's happened, you may feel abused and violated. Your good, trusting humanity has been taken advantage of.

You''ll never be given credit for the huge amount of work you've completed. The bully on the other hand acts without integrity and appears unaware that their constant demands are inappropriate and that they have overstepped the boundary of appropriate behaviour.

Bullying isn't the occasional flying off the handle when things are going badly. When a normal angry person has let fly, they realise the inappropriateness of their behaviour, and learn better ways to manage and put these into action. Serial bullying happens time and time again, without let-up, it is persistent, undermining, malicious.

It can be an entrenched part of the culture in a workplace. In Australia this month (April 2011) the spotlight has been on a number of services (Armed Forces, Police, airline industry) where the underlying culture appears to be problematic and well entrenched with little change occurring after numerous investigations going back 10 or more years.







The bully may present a charming facade one way, but their obstructive behaviour prevents employees working to capacity.  Their chosen bahaviour damages people and companies, often beyond repair.

Berlin Wall. East Side Gallery. Berlin 2009.







Here tomorrow: PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


There are many outstanding resources on line. A couple I find useful are Bullying. No way! an Australian resource for teachers and students, and a UK site Bully On Line. This is in no way an exhaustive list, and each country will no doubt have equally good or more relevant websites. If you're being bullied please seek advice from a professional health care practitioner experienced in this area.

Over at jumpingaground I'm spending the month Drabbling using alliteration, often with an environmental theme.
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5 comments:

Leovi said...

Some interesting thoughts and full of logic, I love your opinions.

Roberto said...

I found, during my youth, that the bullies often lacked ability in many areas, be it sports, academia, or social. I felt that they tried to make up for this lack by hurting those who had the skills, or abilities. Jealousy, greed, or whatever, the bullies turned out to be just cowards and 'never-to-be' people.
Love your blog, Sue.

sue said...

Leovi, thankyou so much for dropping by and for your encouraging comments.
Roberto, you've got it in one there, very succinct! Thankyou very much for your continued support and encouragement.

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Surelia Dev said...
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