Do you recognise any of these people in your workplace?

  • Screaming Mimi
  • Two-headed snake
  • Vindictive Gatekeeper or
  • Constant Critic

And you thought that the schoolyard bully was a thing of the past!  Well, let me assure you that “bullying” is not confined to the school yard.  It is in fact alive and well in the workplace.


We are all too familiar with the schoolyard bully – the one whose ego is so small that the only way he can psychologically survive, is to physically, verbally and emotionally instil fear in some poor school kid.  But…. if we thought the schoolyard was a dangerous place, many of us have discovered an even more insidiously powerful form of bullying – right in the workplace where the stakes are higher than getting a bloodied nose!  And most of the perpetrators are in some form of management position!


Abuse and bullying in the workplace is often based on a pathological need to control others and the perpetrator might well be in need of psychological counselling.


How can you identify a workplace bully?  What tactics do they employ?  According to Behaviour in Organisations, 10 Ed, J. Greenberg, (pg 434) the following are some behaviours that qualify on this score:


Let’s start with Screaming Mimi:  She/He yells screams and curses; makes loud, angry outbursts and throws tantrums; intimidates by slamming things and throwing objects.


The Two-headed Snake denies victims the resources needed to work; demands that co-workers provide damning evidence against the victim; assigns meaningless work as punishment.


The Vindictive Gatekeeper isolates the victim, ignoring him or her with “the silent treatment”; deliberately cuts the target out of the communication loop but expects the victim to have the missing information.


The Constant Critic uses insulting and belittling comments and engages in name-calling; constantly harangues the victim about his or her incompetence and makes aggressive eye contact.


Unfortunately, even when bullying is reported, the bully remains in place and could continue to escalate his or her tactics causing immense fear.   This is difficult to address in a small business enterprise but larger organisations would do well to ensure a safe working

environment, one in which bullying would not be tolerated.  Aggressive behaviour has no place at work and managers would do well to identify predators and act to protect such individuals from victimising employees and opening up the organisation to the possibility of litigation.


So how can one deal with bullying?  What can you do if you are the victim of unfair treatment?  Very often bullies only target people who are non-assertive.  By standing up to the bully and firmly stating that their behaviour is unacceptable, you could stop the bully in his or her tracks.  There are different kinds of bullies and calling the person on the issue could work if the bully is really a ‘weak man using rudeness as a show of strength!’


However, in severe cases the web site advises some of the following steps:

  1. Recognise what is happening to you as bullying– it is the bully who has the problem.
  2. Remember, the bully is devious, deceptive, evasive and manipulative – and cheats.
  3. Learn about bullying – educate yourself.
  4. Keep a log (journal, diary) of everything – it’s not each incident that counts, it’s the numberregularityand especially the patterns that reveal bullying.
  5. Keep copies of all letters, memos, emails, etc. Get and keep everything in writing otherwise the bully will deny everything later.
  6. Discussing the issue with your employer might be an option, as would contacting your Attorney.
  7. Consider leaving – regard it as a positivedecision in the face of overwhelming odds which are not of your choosing, not of your making, and over which you have no control. In this type of situation, walking away is the best thing to do, for in doing so, you regain control.

Unhappily and realistically, there is no “one size fits all” remedy to this problem and you need to seriously look at your options and consider which course of action would be prudent and constructive in your situation.  You can look for further options on the aforementioned web site.


Why identify workplace bullies? Because they have the potential to cause great harm and because, it makes Business Sense!


Stella @ Ed-Unique June 2014 –