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Dawn Baird

Partner at Sensei
Dawn Baird is a writer, coach and trainer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is inspired by the enabling and liberating principles of Dweck's Growth Mindset, Langer's brand of Mindfulness and anyone who has the cahones to call a spade a spade. She drinks Tempted Dry or Earl Grey, depending on the mood. 😉
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“What is bullying?” According to keyword statistics on one of our favourite content marketing research tools Storybase, people really want to know what a bullying is. Perhaps they ask this question online before reporting bullying at work, just so they’re clear in their minds what constitutes bullying behaviour.

Aberrant Behaiours

Having just watched the latest episode of the addictive Netflix series, Zoo, where the animals mutate and display aggression toward all humans, I thought I’d make my own list of human “aberrant behaviours”. Read on to find out how to identify a bully at work.

When You Meet the Bully

You may not initially label their aggressive behaviour as bullying. You may put it down to immaturity, particularly where they’re already young and inexperienced in the workplace. You may simply conclude that it is braggadocio.

  • Paranoia that everyone is out to do them over – even fairly insignificant suppliers and colleagues with whom they’ve little contact
  • Aggression toward anyone who does not immediately agree with them
  • Wildly waving their arms around as they speak (shout) on the phone, to draw attention to themselves
  • Boastful words about how their aggressive tactics work, and no-one dare question this assumption
  • Overestimating their professional capabilities
  • Strong, negative emotional reactions to minor problems – everything scores a 10 on their angry scale
  • Dismissal of experienced professionals who offer alternative explanations, solutions or suggestions

Observe and Learn

Fairly soon, though, you will notice that their aggressive behaviour follows a predictable pattern:

  • They can take advice from no-one
  • They talk, a lot and exhibit zero listening skills
  • They make accusations about other people that make them sound crazy – lies and unbelievable exaggerations are never far away
  • Everyone is afraid to talk, except to laugh at their cynical jokes – the office is eerily quiet with an uneasy atmosphere
  • They assume a lack of intelligence or awareness in the quiet ones around them
  • Those who do object are treated to open dismissal or shouting or more sinister, private belittling and threats
  • They flatter where there is no substance, to gain compliance
  • They’re unpredictable – one minute they ignore you (cold shoulder), the next minute, they’re in your face ranting
  • They talk a lot about loyalty, and threaten vengeance against those who’d dare criticise their team
  • They have a few cynical disciples – you may call this The Whinge Brigade (who’ve drunk the kool-aid)

When you Finally Object, Watch Out!

  • Once you raise your head above the parapet – to make a suggestion or complaint – you become the latest target for their rage
  • They’ve just realised you’re not compliant and must be quashed, lest your damage their tyrannical management style
  • Prepare for lies and the lying lies that liars lie!

How Do I Deal With Bullies?

Check out the latest blog posts in our Assertiveness category. You’ll find something there to help you get started.

We run workshops on Communication Skills and Assertiveness and coach people on how to deal with bullies. When it comes to 1:1 coaching, Bullying at Work is our number one enquiry. If you need some in-depth help with developing Assertiveness in order to manage the bullies in your workplace, get in touch.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash