People talked about this Qualia Soup video on workplace bullying yesterday.
A lot of it is unpleasantly familiar – especially the bully’s ploy of claiming to be the victim.
With bullying, all incidents remain relevant, because they establish a pattern.
Anthony K says
“INot the target’s responsibility to solve the perpetrator’s behaviour problems.”
Anthony K says
Thanks, Ophelia. Thanks, Qualia Soup. That was really informative.
I imagine the bit on lying about/distorting past events may have struck a chord too. All of a piece with playing the victim really.
Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says
Once again, Qualiasoup makes a beautifully succinct video full of painful truths. This is exactly how my marriage ended, and it was always on me to arrange mediation. Even in court he’s lied his arse off, denying all his abuse and calling me crazy (he’s a victim of my disturbed mental state, apparently, completely ignoring the fact I was only depressed and terrified because of abuse). Of course, it can’t be investigated. Nobody can talk to him, find out what’s happened, it’s all just written on pieces of paper that they have to take seriously no matter how much bullshit is in one half of it.
I wish EVERY system could be forced to take this stuff to heart. It’s profoundly damaging to know that no matter what you do, no justice will be done, and you’ll still be under the thumb of an abuser. Often with court orders to enforce it. 🙁
No, that bit will sail completely over the pitters’ heads. That’s how they can claim to be the victims of some nefarious conspiracy to steal their precious bodily fluids.
As a manager investigating a bullying allegation, I quickly discovered the bully claimed to be the real victim and was just protecting himself from the victim’s abuse. It was a case of “he was going to hit me so I hit him back first.” The one thing more than anything else which convinced me who was the victim and who was the bully was that one person’s stories remained unchanged while the other person’s stories kept changing, sometimes quite drastically. It also helped there were several witnesses to the incidents and their stories much more closely matched one person’s stories than the other person’s.
In the end the bully was discharged, not for bullying but for lying about his actions. I wouldn’t have been able to prove the bullying if the bully had sued for wrongful dismissal. I could show systematic lying on his part which would have probably stood up at a trial.
It’s almost as if “I’m the victim here” is a gigantic flashing tell.
Actual victims probably never use the word to describe themselves.
My supervisors and manager, who fired me, are bullies*… I just thought they were bad managers but so much of this is a better explanation.
*The manager with that in his title is an enabler, so maybe he is just a bad manager.
An excellent video!
Fifteen years ago I was in a work situation that was completely bizarre. After the arrival of a new manager, the workplace deteriorated dramatically – on any measure that you could use – staff turnover, morale, outputs, culture, absentesim etc etc. I literally thought I was going mad.
Then I discovered information on the web from a guy called Tim Field. http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/ Tim was a pioneer in the area of workplace bullying. What Tim wrote and his understanding and explanations of the phenomenon on workplace bullying almost literally saved my life. It was like all the smoke and mirrors and craziness rolled away and it was just so so clear to see what was going on in my workplace.
Together a few workmates and I supported each other and finally managed to get rid of the bully – but it was an horrendous process – described perfectly in the video.
If there is one thing I would want to add to the video – it would be to include something very important that Tim identified in his work. And that is that one of the most common things that can be found in nearly all workplace bullying scenarios is that the motivation of the bully derives from thier lack of competence.
Tims by-line was “Those that can, do – those that can’t, bully”
Bullys are threatened by competence. Competence in the the workplace, competence in social abilities, competence in basic human relationships – empathy, compassion, intuition etc etc. The people the bully targets are those people that tend to have all those qulaities in abundance – and are therefore percieved as a a threat. And are therefore targetted. This happens so often it can almost be assumed to be universal.
In the years since I have supported many many victims of workplace bullies. The issue of competence is nearly always at the heart of the problem.
If I was to say anything about the video – it is that this point needs to be made much much more strongly. This is not a random phenomenon. Not everyone in a workplace becomes a target. It is a very powerful thing to understand that if you ARE a target – then chances are pretty good its because you are very good at your jo. And the bully simply cannot stand that.
After that its simply a matter of watching the pattern play out. When supporting targets there have been so many many times that, after hearing thier stories I have been able to say – “so from past experience this is what is most likley to happen now….” Not because I’m clever – but becuase bullies are so thoroughly predictable. Tim had it all sussed – he described it for me. And nearly always the target would come back to me and say – “You were right! It happened exactly as you said it would!” That is a very empowering thing to know and understand.
Tim passed away in in his early 50’s in 2006 from cancer. I have very little doubt that the huge stress, PTSD, depression and other effects of the torment he suffered through workplace bullying contributed not only to his early death but also the break up of his marriage.
RIP Tim. I thanked you many many times when you were alive – and I continue to thank you today. And you would be so very proud to know that the work you pioneered is still going on, and has contributed to excellent resources such as the one put out by Qualia Soup. We have not stopped fighting bullying and standing for targets and we never will.
Given that being a boss or a manager involves exercising power over people in a responsible manner, and bullying involves exercising power over people in a hurtful manner, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of truly awful managers are bullies. I mean, on the one hand, there was my old boss who was a little too hands-off. But in that situation, the worst that would happen is that I might find myself confused or without direction, and waiting for him to find the time to review my work with me so I could figure out which way to go.
Contrast to my current boss, who literally screamed at the top of her lungs at me for a solid 30 minutes, in a car, because I made the mistake of interrupting her during Q & A at one of the first public speaking events I did with her. AND she also threatened to fire me because of that. That definitely qualifies as bullying, I would say – the only way I could deal with it was to effectively dissociate – tune her out and pretend to be agreeing with everything she said – basically lie through my teeth and suppress my emotions entirely. Non-bullying bosses do not inspire those kinds of stress responses in their employees, even if they’re not the greatest at managing people.
This is a great video and I think I’m going to use it next time I teach a course on Violence, Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace.
A few years ago, the Canada Labour Code and Employment Standards Act in Ontario were amended to include bullying and harassment as forms of violence in the workplace. They are prohibited by law and an employer can dismiss with cause if a worker is found guilty of any form of violence in the workplace. Only the Federal law identifies bullying as a form of violence but the provincial standards have been successfully used against bullies.
I wish I could say the new legislation has worked wonders to reduce bullying in Canadian or Ontario workplaces. The fact is that employers are still likely to look away when allegations of bullying are brought forward. Mediation is still the usual go to place. I kind of hate mediation, really. The idea that the victim is as culpable as the bully (and asking them questions like: Do you think your response was reasonable? Perhaps if you responded differently, the behaviour would have stopped?) makes me want to scream.
When someone attacks you, your response to the attack isn’t the fucking issue.
Amy Clare says
It’s an excellent video – just wondering what they would suggest a person do if the bully is their boss. Not supervisor or immediate manager, but the boss of the company. This can happen in small companies, and there is nowhere to go, nobody to complain to that could help you.
Markita Lynda—threadrupt says
The ‘easiest’ answer is to quit and go elsewhere.
The harder course is to stay and fight someone who doesn’t fight fair.
Markita Lynda—threadrupt says
Thank you for stimulating this discussion, Ophelia! It was most informative.
This explains some bosses who appear to be evil.
Thank you, billingtondev and Sally Strange. Thank you for the video and the clear explanations and examples.
“When someone attacks you, your response to the attack isn’t the fucking issue.” Thank you, sambarge.
*Hugs all round.*