Saturday, February 24, 2007

Is the Workplace an Extension of the School Playground?

Are workplaces just an extension of the playground at the elementary or middle school? Evil HR Lady (it is hard for me to call her this--although it is her blog name--for she seems more charming and witty than evil) has an interesting post on workplace bullies that looks into this question and wonders if abusive co-workers could be dealt with by peers just as bullying kids can sometimes be stopped by the intervention of other kids. I think the answer is yes, sometimes.

In my experience in working with violent and threatening workers in businesses, the bullying co-worker has often gotten off scot-free from both management and other co-workers for quite some time before a blow-up that cannot be ignored occurs and results in a referral for a violent risk assessment. It certainly seems better to nip abusive behavior in the bud ASAP at work before it escalates--both for the abusive employee and for other co-workers, but many people are afraid of confrontation in our society, having been taught to bite their tongue and allow themselves to be screamed at, scorned, and threatened.

I have never understood this--why would one allow themselves to be treated this way? It is amazing what a calm cool voice using direct eye contact while conveying to the co-worker that one will not tolerate their nasty behavior will do--and it is even more helpful if other co-workers stick together and back up the messenger with a similar message. People need to learn to control their emotions at work, but those who feel entitled, will continue to hurl abuse at co-workers if they think they can get away with it without any repercussions such as the embarrassment of being called out on the carpet for their tacky and unprofessional conduct.

Did you ever have a workplace bully? What did you do, stay and stand your ground or turn tail and run or say nothing?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder who doesn't have a work place bully. I have been the target of one. The rest of the people were afraid of him and basically a mob mentality ruled.
The hardest thing to do is to not respond in kind. A fist fight could easily erupt, if both lost their heads instead of just the one. But I do agree a hard and cold stare does get a point across. I have also found that laughing at them in the middle of a rant twists them into a pretzel. But you have to be ready for Donald Trump's two trademark words.
I believe the work place bully is an inadequate individual (and well aware of it) whose target is the one he actually fears the most as competition. At least a male bully. I have heard that female work place bullies are worse than the males. I have yet to be exposed to one.

3:29 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

The only "bully" I encountered at work was at a community mental health center and it was the director. He was quite narcissistic and would just talk over everyone. The rest of the folks were intimidated by him, and I was a bit as well.

I just played him. He could beat me at golf, pretty easy to do actually, and so we would play a little golf and I would ask him questions and get him to talk and rarely disagree with him. I just managed him. It would have been different if he were not the director. At least, I think so!


4:09 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting topic and I trust you will get lots of comments. I'm curious as to how you see it, Dr. Helen, when the boss is the bully? I've read, somewhere, that some 35 to 45 percent of the workforce leave a job not because of salary or wages, not because of co-workers but because of a bullying boss. Seems to be right, but I'm not sure.

4:15 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that because of her extremely attractive appearance and equally forceful personality, our blog-hostess doesn't get bullied very much. Who would be brave or stupid enough to try?

4:34 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I'm so honored to have made Dr. Helen's blog! I didn't even have to bully her.

Workplace bullies are a huge problem. Management doesn't want to deal with it. HR doesn't want to deal with it. No one likes confrontation.

It's absolutely amazing the lengths a company will go to to protect an abusive employee--especially if that person is high enough up the totem pole.

4:35 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worked in a workplace with what could be described as a "bully" coworker. Not really an ideal description, as the person had an angry disposition and difficulty with inappropriate comments, but was never threatening or abusive... just took things personally and had trouble restraining it.

The situation improved tremendously once management encouraged him to take anger-management courses and his coworkers all expressed concern over his occasional outbursts. After a year or so from that point, there have been no problems whatsoever with anger issues.

(I still find myself wincing at the content of certain jokes, but more because someone looking for an excuse to be offended could use it than because a reasonable person would be.)

I say this because early intervention can really help. Often people like this don't even realize they are being offensive. If they are not told so, in no uncertain terms, when they are actually being offensive they will not recognize it. Anonymous complaints to management, even when conveyed to the person quickly, will often inspire more anger at being "told on".

Once someone realizes there is a problem they can try to change their behavior, often successfully. Until they recognize the problem, they will not make the effort to change!

4:41 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

GM Roper,

You're not a boss-hater, are you? There was a recent article by Jack Welch in business week looking at the psychology etc. of those who constantly hate their boss: "Very few people would ever identify themselves as boss-haters. They usually see themselves as noble victims, speaking truth to power. Forget that line. Boss-haters are a breed. It doesn't matter where they work -- big corporations, family companies, partnerships, nonprofits, newspapers, or government agencies." You can read more at TigerHawk's blog here on boss-haters:

I am kidding of course about you being a boss-hater but I do think there are some employees who just hate authority etc. who switch job to job constantly complaining of the boss.

Evil HR Lady,

I really enjoy your blog--keep up the good work.

Anonymous 4:41:

Early intervention is key, because the longer the offensive behavior goes on, the more it seems to escalate. I am always surprised at what a co-worker has been getting away with prior to being sent for a risk assessment etc. If the person is decent, they may change their behavior if others are direct in the beginning without becoming angry and offensive themselves.

5:01 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've worked with several, but I only ever had to confront one. She had problems with everyone, but of course management never dealt with her.

One day, she got upset with me and I just stood my ground and went toe to toe with her. The poor night shift supervisor looked like she was about to faint. When I decided I had made my point, I told her I was done talking to her and that she needed to go sit down. I calmly went to my station and started working. She not only never bothered me after that, she wouldn't even make eye contact.

Amy K.

5:15 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

We had one at my last job. She was blatantly mean to everyone but the owner.

My strategy was to avoid her. Unfortunately, that became impossible when I emailed her about an impending need for updated software... and she sent an email chock-full of free-floating hostility, complaining about my request--and accidentally hit "reply" instead of sending it to our IT provider. oops.

When she realized what she'd done, she came running downstairs to apologize. I gave her a pretty hard time, and she was always civil to me after that. I probably could have been a lot more forgiving. But she was one of those people: give them an inch, show any weakness--and they'll walk all over you. They practically force you to be a hardass. With all that said, I admit I never would have sought out a confrontation, I was pretty much forced into it.

5:51 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

tmink - I wonder if you worked at the same mental health center I did. You describe quite well the director at the one I worked at 20 years ago, HRMC. It is the worst place I ever worked of management/employee relations. Ironic.

Where I work now I think we have a lot of a different type of "bullies." Many account executives and account managers procrastinate, plan projects poorly, etc. and then expect those that actually carry out the tasks to work extra hours on salary with no overtime and often blame those same people for doing a "poor" job when given too little time and resources.

The projects of some account executives and account managers always go well while others always have problems. Yet, despite frequent complaints from frontline staff, nothing effective is ever done to improve things.

6:13 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only dealt with three kinds of people that could be described as being threatening in the work place, and in no cases were those threats physical in nature, or even explicitly stated.

There are the PC police ... typically upwardly mobile women who are elated that any assertion of inappropriate behavior on the part of a man can have him out the door before the day is through, and the company fearful of a lawsuit.

There are the political informers ... typically buddies of upper management brought in to serve no productive purpose but to keep the peons in line and uncritical of management with the threat of "running to daddy" and subsequent termination.

And there are the managers who prefer to lead from behind with a whip, said whip being the threat of job loss (at best) or a diminution of responsibility (at worst, as it damages your entire career), wielded to inspire long hours and weekends to compensate for their lack of true management skills. This is frequently seen in IT shops.

Particularly devastating are those co-workers who embody more than one of these aspects. And, since there's little defense against them, I would accept a room-full of co-workers who merely yelled and screamed in exchange for one of these any day of the week.

7:13 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

I was once called by a co-worker (call him Al) in one of our satellite offices. His boss, "Steve", a really unpleasant piece of work, was systematically sabotaging Al's job: undermining him with clients, demeaning him at every opportunity, and doing all sorts of petty mean and evil shit to him.

Al, finally, broke down and wept. "Why is he doing this to me?" he asked.

I responded: "Because he can. He's a bully, and there's not a whole bunch you can do about it."

Al quit a week later.


About four years later, I was working for another company. The CEO came into my office, and said, "You used to work with Steve, didn't you? We're thinking of hiring him to work for us. What do you think?"

I thought for a moment, and asked, "What job is he going to do? Is he going to be all by himself as a salesman? He's an excellent salesman." [he was]

"No, he's going to be an area manager."

What could I do? I told him the story of Steve and Al.

Steve never got the job.

For the next three years, people would occasionally call me to ask about Steve, and I would just repeat the story. They would thank me, and not hire him.

Other people tried similar stuff with me. I would take notes of all the stuff that had happened, and ask for time under "other matters" at the next staff meeting, and then I'd put it all up on the overhead projector, right out there in public, in front of the bully.

Public shaming is the only way I can suggest handling it.

Otherwise, I don't know how to handle workforce bullies. I know how I'd LIKE to handle them, but I doubt whether Dr. Helen would like to hear it.

8:55 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to deal with a workplace bully who was one of the founders of the company I worked for. I told the other founders that I was quitting because of it. They tried to keep me by moving my office several floors away, paying me more, and telling my I wouldn't have to report to her. I quit anyway. Within 2 weeks half the other employees quit the company for the same reason. Not long after that the company folded.

I was glad to have started the ball rolling to lose that bitch her investment in the company. Revenge works in mysterious ways.

9:24 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

I just leave. Who needs that kind of aggravation? I'd rather work for less money and be happier, than more money and be unhappy.

2:22 AM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once had a state job for an agency that was headed by political appointees who served for fixed terms. After I'd been there for a while, the terms for the people I'd been working with expired. Since there was a new administration, new people were appointed. Some were okay, but most of them were a bunch of losers.

One (female) was seriously passive-aggressive, borderline personality. Another (female) was openly hostile, a bully, borderline personality and nothing you'd ever do was good enough. Both of them met all the DSM requirements for being "batsh-t insane." (That wasn't just my opinion, it was the consensus among the staff.) Another (female) was whiny and sarcastic. (Not insane just very self-absorbed and neurotic.) One (male) was superficially pleasant, but a total blockhead.

Since they were political appointees there was nothing we could do except leave. Just about all the experienced civil service staff moved on within a year or so of when these people came in. The taxpayers paid the price of the loss of expertise.

One time the hostile one and the passive aggressive one went on a three week vacation-- not together, but at the same time. I had quite a bit of work that I'd shelved just to avoid having them mess it all up. So when they were away I broke my butt and got all the projects out before they came back. Probably set an agency record for productivity during those three weeks.

Of course if they had been half way reasonable I could have worked almost at that level the whole year.

Anyway I ought to thank them. They motivated me to look for another job, and now I'm in a much better situation.

3:57 AM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a technique which I use with bullies and the otherwise self important.

Understanding that bullying behavior is usually symptomatic of people operating from fear of their own inadequacy, and the terror that others will see that they are really just normal (or abnormal) smelly assed human beings (just like the rest of us), I exploit this understanding.

When we engage in a behavior or course of action, we assume certain things. We have a script for what we are going to say and do, and make assumptions about how the other person will react. Those assumptions become part of our script. We expect a narrowly defined set of reactions to our action. This serves the bully well. He or she acts this way, people react that way. The bully gets the reaction they want or have a plan for. All is good; for the bully, anyway.

A fraternity brother of mine, back in college, taught martial arts in his spare time. His nickname was Freud. He imparted this wisdom upon his classes: If some slob comes up to you in a bar and says “I’m going to kick your ass!” Smile at him, look him in the eye and say “OK.” He will slink away ninety-nine out of a hundred times. Why? Because you took his script away; you did not give him an answer he had a plan for.

I use this technique with bullies at work and on the job. The bully acts in a given way expecting a certain response. DO NOT GIVE HIM A RESPONSE HE EXPECTS. You can figure out what he is expecting, don’t feed him. Depending on his level of intelligence, he will expect compliance or a fight. Polite denial of his wishes coupled with an offer to assist him in solving his problem of the moment is usually effective in confusing him. Refusal to be cowed coupled with a willingness to assist him in solving the issue scares him a bit. Consistency in this mode of behavior causes him to make accommodation with you.

Think of it this way: He/she/it is trying to establish alpha status. If you refuse to be cowed, but at the same time are helpful to him in achieving his primary need to maintain his identity as being powerful and in control, he is forced to incorporate you in the milieu of his power structure. Usually, because you are not subservient, that means he ends up TREATING you as a helpful superior, regardless of your actual place in the manning chart. In his/her/its simplistic worldview you are either above or below, no allowance is made for the concept of peer.

Try it. It is kind of fun really.

5:32 AM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A fraternity brother of mine, back in college, taught martial arts in his spare time. His nickname was Freud. He imparted this wisdom upon his classes: If some slob comes up to you in a bar and says “I’m going to kick your ass!” Smile at him, look him in the eye and say “OK.” He will slink away ninety-nine out of a hundred times. Why? Because you took his script away; you did not give him an answer he had a plan for.

I've found this to be true. I was in a parking lot altercation a few years ago resulting from a simple misunderstanding (no cars were hit, parking spaces stolen) The other guy has to walks the length of the parking lot to confront me, calling me all sorts of abusive names. I respond with a very simple, "No one is hurt and no cars are damaged. It is no big deal" (and it wasn't). He puts his finger in my face and yells, "You're a f***er!". At this point I put on the biggest sh** eating grin I could muster and replied, "Yes I am". His head just about exploded. I took his script from him. He had no recourse after that but to storm off. I view this as a win. I went on and had a nice dinner and his evening was ruined.

Then there was time my CEO put a bully boss over all of operations and he commenced to hiring bully subordinates who had mostly ass-kissing skills. I've never seen a company implode like this one did. He was there for a year before he was made my boss. I quite 2 weeks later. Most of those reporting to him have either quit or are looking for jobs. Sometimes companies deserver to go out of business.

7:43 AM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had multiple bullies at the same job, male and female. I stood up to them and since they weren't used to that they reacted strongly. They threatened me, harassed me, got people to threaten and harass me outside of work, etc. Unfortunately since I'm a no-nonsense kind of guy I didn't tell on them, just stood up to them some more.

Eventually they turned this around on me and got coworkers and management to think that I was the one that was wacky, even though they had committed crimes.(Threats, etc.) And it's funny - these people, even the women - saw themselves as tough. But here they were "ratting someone out" because they couldn't take someone standing up to them. And playing the victim, acting like they were afraid, etc. Funny - they weren't "afraid" when they were threatening me and getting other people to threaten me. Talk about borderlines...

Eventually I left but unfortunately they can't leave people alone and have been committing crimes and torts against me since - which are eventually going to be prosecuted and litigated. Some people don't learn, I guess.

8:09 AM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Googling "work place bully" sure brought up some interesting info. As evil hr lady said, and by the responses so far in this thread,
and info on the web, it certainly appears to be a huge problem. Walking on egg shells seems to be the standard response in companies. And when the bully is the boss, as was my experience, the best thing to do is keep the resume up to date.
Impossible tasks, constant no win situations, attempts at public humiliation, name calling, comments on how you dress, walk, talk - threats against your job, even your person.
An individual who doesn't realize what is happening can actually come to believe it is really him (her), and not beezlebub in the flesh.
Some people deserve to get their asses whipped, regardless of gender. Not physically - well, some male bullies deserve to get their asses whipped physically.
That's a personal viewpoint, of course.

9:12 AM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes you end up in a culture that thinks bullying is leadership. It becomes an honor/shame culture where you can't challenge the bullies for being bullies because their bosses are bullies, too. All of them are caught up in defending the illusion that they are leaders.

1:58 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One workplace bully, I left. He was the boss and was determined that I was going to put my work life before my family life. I was equally determined that I wasn't going to do that because I work to support my family - period. I left - and lucky me, it was just before the place went bankrupt and several of the accounting employees had to be deposed for the ensuing lawsuits.

The current bully in my work place has a way of talking about you to someone else but so that you can hear. If you answer, you're nosey. If you don't, she wins. I left it until she said I was lying and that my sins would find me out. Then I waited an hour or so and sent her an e-mail explaining why I said what I said and that I was sure my sins would find me out, but that I was equally sure she doesn't know what they are.
I then heard her say to the same co-worker she told I was lying, "she's waiting for me to answer that". I wasn't and didn't speak to her at all for several days. She's never mentioned it again, but she stopped attempting to bully me because it didn't work.

Within two weeks of that incident, she was disciplined for creating a hostile work environment for another co-worker.

3:43 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Helen:

I certainly have experience with workplace bullies.

One was in graduate school. This fellow simply couldn't help himself: he had to pick political fights and would go on and on about it. He would do this literally on a daily basis. My thesis advisor did nothing to stop it, which was hardly a good mentor's role.

I guess I don't understand this kind of person. If I run into a person who has different ideas from myself---and I have to work with them---I stay off that subject.

Incidentally, what finally shut the guy up was me telling him, in some weird psychobabble tone, that it really hurt me when he spoke that way, and how did he live with himself, knowing he was causing pain to another person?


The other example was in a biotech company. This guy was a jerk, and I made the mistake of badmouthing him, too.

So he came to see me privately, and we worked it out. No angry words.

I am guessing that nobody ever said anything about him in return, and he had a decent soul underneath all the nonsense.

The bad thing about this topic is that bosses are now having to FORCE good manners among coworkers. Legislating good manners seldom works, sad to say.

Interesting post.

6:27 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:58
When I was getting out of the military, I read a book on getting employed. It stated that, when you read about a company's management as being "hard as nails", that is a codeword for a bully culture. If you work there, you will be treated by bullies and have to knuckle under to them.

My experience with bullies is that it depends upon how much management tolerates, and/or rewards them. I still remember the experience, as a young airman, where our office Captain rotated out and was replaced. Our office bully/suckup let a comment go about me, and the new captain said that "he didn't need comments from the peanut gallery." The office bully/suckup saw that his behavior wasn't going to be tolerated, and he actually shaped up into an almost decent human being.

On the other hand, we had a Captain who used the office bully/suckup to "police" the enlisted troups. As a result, 77 out of 78 people left (PCSed) out of the office in the space of 8 months (this still amazes me). The office bully/suckup was one of the people leaving, as he felt he couldn't take a chance on what people would say about him to the new Captain and being held accountable for his behavior.

Lastly, I have seen management destroy an office, simply based upon how they changed the office culture from a team, to a culture that matches the behavior of a medieval court. You have the "king" at the top, with the courtiers, dukes, pages, and palace intrigue all represented and going on. Whoever has the ear of the "king" can enforce policies on the lower orders and/or destroy the careers of those lower orders. History does repeat itself in human behavior.

6:50 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bad thing about this topic is that bosses are now having to FORCE good manners among coworkers. Legislating good manners seldom works, sad to say.

This is a dangerous concept, since "manners" is so subjective. Some people are so arrogant they would claim that you have "bad manners" when you chew them out for violating your privacy.

Word to the wise: When you're a peeping tom you can't claim your victim was "rude" to you when they catch you and say insulting things to you. You are the one in the wrong.

10:29 AM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

I think that in general, this kind of behavior is more prevalent when there are no objective measurments of performance. It's certainly more common in the non-profit world, where the primary currency is status rather than money, than in the for-profit world...and within for-profit corporations, it is more likely to occur in departments whose performance is not very measurable.

11:34 AM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

David has an excellent point. I have zero experience with the non-profit sector, but lack of clear responsibilities and poor ways to measure performance always contribute to such behavior.

A manager has hard time terrorizing an employee who can produce evidence that he/she is an effective employee. However, in an area with "soft" goals, there is much more leeway for emotions to come into play.

I'm a big fan of measurable goals. If they can't be measured, don't include them.

1:14 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People allow themselves to become bullied in the workplace, and in other situations, because they feel they don't have any other acceptable choices, and they are mostly correct. They can either change themselves and therefore tolerate the bullies behavior or they can quit their job. Most of us mere humans do not have at our disposal the knowledge of psychology that you do, and we generally establish our place in the societal pecking order by "feel" rather than conscious effort. Bullies use techniques that prey on both our insecurities and the deeply ingrained childhood needs to please our authority figures. Bullies are simply better psychologists than we are. Most people cowtow because cowtowing, conforming and being polite has been naturally instilled by parents, teachers, police officers and dare I say it, psychiatrists. When a person does develop a sense of self and tries to fend off bullies, they simply do not always have the adequate tools to do so and often respond immaturely, placing themselves on an even lower rung socially. Consider it this way, when you are at the bottom of the psychological food chain, you can either submit, quit or appeal to a higher authority. And many of us simply do not have the financial, educational and social resources to quit our jobs if appealing to a higher authority does not work. Here at the bottom looking up, all this incomprehensible behavior seems sadly natural.

4:38 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

evil hr lady-

If they can't be measured, don't include them.

Of course you don't want made-up, nonsensical measurements that have nothing to do with reality but are popular because they favor certain groups. Or because a company is selling these "measurement" techniques.

That's a technique used in sales and marketing that can snow a lot of people if you don't know what those behind it are doing. They create these bells, whistles, and measuring "standards" that favor their product.

It's also a common human foible - seizing on a variable that they think they can measure, regardless of whether it is meaningful or not. Especially when we are talking about number fetishists and statistics, equations, etc.

A GIGO system is still GIGO, no matter how elegant the equations or accurate the calculations.

5:38 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a person does develop a sense of self and tries to fend off bullies, they simply do not always have the adequate tools to do so and often respond immaturely, placing themselves on an even lower rung socially.

I think you are overly concerned with status here. (Or convinced by others' perception of status.) Those that know the facts know that the bullies are cowards, meritless, suck-ups, hacks, etc.

5:41 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that in general, this kind of behavior is more prevalent when there are no objective measurments of performance.

This is also an observation that Kenneth Westhues has made regarding 'mobbing' behavior (i.e. group bullying of an individual). While the phenomena can occur in nearly any setting, it is much more likely in situations where there are few objective a/o measurable criteria for evaluation. So you tend to find it frequently in academia, social/philanthropic/advocacy, and public sector work. It's interesting to consider whether this is primarily due to the environment's lack of formal accountability, or to the nature of those attracted to such environments.

5:41 PM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 4:38:

No one can put you at the "bottom of the psychological food chain" except yourself. No matter where you are in your life's work, whether that is working at a Fortune 500 company or at the movie theatre cleaning toilets, you always have a choice in how you will allow yourself to be treated. If you think you are a poor judge of reading people etc., do your homework. Take a look at some self-help books like "Nasty People" by Jay Carter to get some ideas of comebacks or ways to understand why nasty people act the way that they do.

Bullies are not good psychologists--for if they were, they would not treat people the way that they do. They may be good manipulators but no one can manipulate you without your consent. You do not have to be high on the totem pole to get the respect you deserve from others and set limits to let them know where you stand. Give in to their intimidation, and you will definitely feel at the bottom of the heap. You say the options are to "submit, quit, or appeal to a higher authority." Not necessarily. You can try different strategies, no one thing works all of the time.

When I was fifteen, I worked at a movie theater--we had a great manager until a new one was hired. She hated me. We got into it one night as she was always telling the staff that the till was short and taking money from our paychecks to make it up even though all of us were just trying to do a decent job. After I left, I realized that she had ripped me off and my sister and I called the Better Buisiness Bureau. They found out that this woman had been taking money from the employees night after night and she was fired and we were given reimbusement of all the money she had taken, it was a lot. Other teens who worked there came up to thank me for the checks. I realized at that point that there was always something that could be done if other people tried to take advantage of you, no matter how young or low you are, you just have to have some confidence.

7:06 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most people I know kowtow to office bullies (and I've dealt with my share). When I encounter an office bully, my usual response is to stand up to them. I've been told by co-workers not to do this as I would make things worse. They say it's better to just go along with them. They seem to ignore the fact that when I do stand up to office bullies, they generally back down.

This attitude isn't isolated to the office either. Terrorists ram airplanes into buildings and a significant number of people don't want to stand up to them. It's better to kowtow to them. Otherwise, you might make things worse.

11:00 AM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Mike said...

Fortunately I have not had to deal with one myself. Bullies tend to leave me alone because I inherited the sort of personality type from my mother that does not suffer such people lightly, and that can take abuse in kind. The biblical admonition that responding with good works to evil works is like heaping hot coals on an enemy's head can also be true in most cases for them, and generally it's perceived that way by others around you.

Granted, you have to know the enemy and the lay of the land. Sometimes a ruthless takedown may be what's best for the bully. When people ask me how I can suggest that and still be a Christian, I say that I can and try to turn the other cheek when I'm the target. I can't turn the other cheek for someone else, such as a victim of a bully who won't stop unless I intervene.

10:52 AM, February 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I've been told by co-workers not to do this as I would make things worse. They say it's better to just go along with them."

Its their attempt to justify their cowardice buy framing it in a moralistic fashion. Its rampant in many aspects of our culture today.

4:46 PM, March 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:14 AM, June 08, 2009  

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