Ever wondered why workplace bullies exist?
I’m not a psychologist but I believe I’m still qualified to answer this question.
As a management consultant with PwC, I handled over 200 client engagements.
So, that’s equivalent to almost 10 lifetimes of career experiences.
So, back to the question.
Workplace bullies exist simply because some people are psychopaths.
And these bullies, they’re psychopaths.
They get pleasure out of inflicting emotional pain to others.
Maybe they were bullied as children
And now that they have power, they’re taking revenge on their coworkers.
Just like a high school bully, a corporate bully also picks on the weak or the isolated.
At the workplace you’ll probably encounter at least one of the four types:
First, the screaming mimi, who shouts at you and embarrasses you publicly.
Next, the constant critic, that guy who points out every little mistake you make.
Third, the two-headed snake, that coworker who smiles at your face then later on spreads nasty rumors about you.
And then lastly, the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are those people who withhold information to make sure you can’t get ahead.
But, before we move on, I just want to tell you, mistakes also happen.
Check out this article of landing interviews guaranteed review it’s about failure and success.
As we continue, good people make mistakes, don’t confuse them with the complete corporate psychopaths.
Let me explain this:
I once made a very stupid joke.
I was working with a lady colleague of mine in a meeting room.
It was already late, I think it was 8 pm.
And she said, ah I’m so ready to go to bed.
So, I said my place or your place. Then we laughed.
But then, I was her manager at the time,
So I thought that was just inappropriate.
It really bugged me. I mean I kept thinking about that the whole way home.
What a stupid, disrespectful joke that was.
So, you see, it was stupid mistake, but it doesn’t make me a corporate psychopath.
Anyway, what can you do if you’re being bullied at work?
First, let me tell you this,
Most people would probably tell you to document everything, go to the HR, file a complaint and all that.
I disagree. Don’t ever to go HR. And here’s my problem with that.
You see, HR’s only obligation is to their employer. To the company.
They’re not obliged to be fair.
Trust me, they won’t maintain confidentiality. Worse, they’ll go to your manager and tell them what you told them.
Alright, listen to this, HR, they’re not decision makers. They are decision conveyers.
Someone else makes the decision, and HR just tells you what that decision is. Whether you’re fired, you’re laid off or whatever.
Remember, they’re also employees themselves.
So, if you go to HR, chances are the situation will be like this.
It’s gonna be between you or your manager.
And unless you have incredible talent that’s hard to replace, then most likely, you’ll be the one to go.
You see, with issues like workplace bullying, corporates will just want to sweep it under a rug.
The best outcome you can get out of this is that they’ll pay you off, put a clause in the contract that you can’t talk about it, then let you go.
Worse comes to worst, I guess you can always seek legal advice from an employment attorney but I doubt it’ll make your life happier.
And here’s another thing.
I don’t think talking to the bully is gonna do anything.
Telling them upfront is not gonna change their character.
You see, it’s because a person’s character is like a Jenga tower.
It’s something that you build over time.
So, think of a Jenga tower, those blocks at the bottom, they’re the qualities that make up your character.
And if you take out one or two of those blocks, what’s gonna happen? The Jenga tower will come crashing down.
And the same thing goes for a person’s character.
If you question or challenge the bully’s character, he’s not gonna change.
In fact it’s even gonna make him more aggressive.
And you know why, it’s because he wants to protect the bottom blocks of his Jenga tower. His identity.
Alright, so, now that you know going to HR doesn’t work,
And that talking to the bully is not gonna do you good.
What else can you do?
Here’s a solution that works.
You can hang out with other managers and directors.
And, make sure it’s visible to the bully. Make sure he sees you’re in a position to damage his career.
Make sure he sees that you now have access to power.
If you have the option to work with the other managers on a project, do it.
If not, just hang out with them socially. Join them at lunch or for drinks after work.
This way, you’d still be in close proximity to power even if it’s a social gathering.
Just you approaching and taking a project or being accessible to power makes a huge difference.
I have seen this before in one of my clients, and it works.
I can’t name the client but it was an investment bank and we were engaged to develop a post merger market penetration strategy. I think it was around a 3 month project.
Anyway, the environment was a highly alpha male dominated environment.
And then this new lady joined and she was constantly bullied.
One day, during lunch break, she told me her situation.
What I did is I immediately included her in our task force which included VPs and Directors from various units.
And after this, she immediately gained access to power.
You know what happened next?
The bully completely changed 180 degrees.
He became her biggest supporter.
It doesn’t change the fact that he’s still an a.hole.
He was still a psychopath. But because he saw that the new lady was in position and had access to power, he backed off.
And that improved the working conditions for the new lady.