Definition of Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:
*Verbal abuse

*Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating

*Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done
"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.”
~Harvey S. Firestone

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tall Poppy Syndrome

I was reading a number of articles and blogs about why bullies bully?  The face of a bully does not change, the schoolyard bully or the workplace are all the same.  Research shows without a doubt, bullies bully because they feel inadequate and insecure.  

This blog is intended to educate others and to highlight research while using my own personal experience to show the parallel.  Bullying is not a new phenomena, it has been happening for years and years.  The difference is more research is being done to understand why it happens, how to deal with its affects, who becomes a target and the psyche of a bully.  This research is factual educated research done by psychologists, other clinical professionals and others personal insights.  I have provided links to research articles and various blogs to help educate others that are being bullied.  The examples provided is intended to paint you a picture of my personal experience with my bullying boss, linking it to educated research.  

Which leads me into what research states about why bullies bully.  One of the websites I discovered, has some very insightful information.  Dr. Sheila White, who has been doing research for years on workplace bullying is pretty straight forward, bullies bully because of "insecurity, envy, the potential for shame, unrealistic expectations and a futile search for recognition are some of the underlying factors".  Lets drive the point and see what others state regarding why bullies bully:
"Bullies usually attack others to try to make themselves feel better about their insecurities. A fairly popularly known reason why people of all ages bully is because they are insecure. They constantly worry about what other people think of them, and they do not want to appear weak or insufficient to their peers. In their minds, taking charge of any and all situations and mocking others will instill fear and insecurity in their victims. If they are able to make other individuals feel insecure, then they can forget about their own personal voids and take pleasure in the fact that someone else is weaker than they are" (
"The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy...Bullying is obsessive and compulsive...   Bullies have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and thus feel insecure. Low self-esteem is a factor highlighted by all studies of bullying...Bullies are seething with resentment, bitterness, hatred and anger, and often have wide-ranging prejudices as a vehicle for dumping their anger onto others. Bullies are driven by jealousy and envy. Rejection (which cannot be assuaged) is another powerful motivator of bullying"(
 I could continue to point out research definitions of why bullies bully but you get the point.  
So, if a bully feels inadequate and insecure what happens when they feel threatened, they will lash out.  The bully will "try and eliminate the threat of what they don't understand, to reassure themselves that they are 'superior' and generally to try and feel better about themselves and to reinforce their own views. This is made very much worse then if they think that you are looking down on them as this threatens them more and makes them feel as though they need to lash out" (
 If you recall, a serial bully "is also quick to belittle, undermine, denigrate and discredit anyone who calls, attempts to call, or might call the bully to account" (

I could not resist to point out how a bully response when they are trying to avoid responsibility for their behavior.  

"When called to account for the way they have chosen to behave, the bully instinctively exhibits this recognisable behavioural response:
a) Denial: the bully denies everything. Variations include Trivialization ("This is so trivial it's not worth talking about...") and the Fresh Start tactic ("I don't know why you're so intent on dwelling on the past" and "Look, what's past is past, I'll overlook your behaviour and we'll start afresh") - this is an abdication of responsibility by the bully and an attempt to divert and distract attention by using false conciliation. Imagine if this line of defence were available to all criminals ("Look I know I've just murdered 12 people but that's all in the past, we can't change the past, let's put it behind us, concentrate on the future so we can all get on with our lives" - this would do wonders for prison overcrowding).
b) Retaliation: the bully counterattacks. The bully quickly and seamlessly follows the denial with an aggressive counter-attack of counter-criticism or counter-allegation, often based on distortion or fabrication. Lying, deception, duplicity, hypocrisy and blame are the hallmarks of this stage. The purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour. Often the target is tempted - or coerced - into giving another long explanation to prove the bully's allegation false; by the time the explanation is complete, everybody has forgotten the original question.

Both a) and b) are delivered with aggression in the guise of assertiveness; in fact there is no assertiveness (which is about recognising and respecting the rights of oneself and others) at all. Note that explanation - of the original question - is conspicuous by its absence.
c) Feigning victimhood: in the unlikely event of denial and counter-attack being insufficient, the bully feigns victimhood or feigns persecution by manipulating people through their emotions, especially guilt. This commonly takes the form of bursting into tears, which most people cannot handle. Variations include indulgent self-pity, feigning indignation, pretending to be "devastated", claiming they're the one being bullied or harassed, claiming to be "deeply offended", melodrama, martyrdom ("If it wasn't for me...") and a poor-me drama ("You don't know how hard it is for me ... blah blah blah ..." and "I'm the one who always has to...""You think you're having a hard time ...""I'm the one being bullied..."). Other tactics include manipulating people's perceptions to portray themselves as the injured party and the target as the villain of the piece. Or presenting as a false victim. Sometimes the bully will suddenly claim to be suffering "stress" and go off on long-term sick leave, although no-one can quite establish why. Alleged ill-health can also be a useful vehicle for gaining attention and sympathy"
As I continue to read and research I discover more insight and am confident in my abilities, my accomplishments, my work ethics and in whole my entire being.  There is a saying, you may think you knocked me down but I am stronger then ever and stand stronger then before.  I am stronger because I have educated myself against someone like you, my bullying boss and know I have hit a nerve.  I am not saying this without research to back up my knowledge, so here it is:

"Reflection: Serial bullies harbor a particular hatred of anyone who can articulate their behaviour profile, either verbally or in writing - as on this page - in a manner which helps other people see through their deception and their mask of deceit. The usual instinctive response is to launch a bitter personal attack on the person's credentials, lack of qualifications, and right to talk about personality disorders, psychopathic personality etc, whilst preserving their right to talk about anything they choose - all the while adding nothing to the debate themselves.  Serial bullies hate to see themselves and their behavior reflected as if they are looking into a mirror" ( 

In conclusion, an interesting anaIagy.  "In Australia, where poppies grow, they for the most part grow to the same height. Every once in a while, one poppy grows higher than the rest. What do you think they do? You got it…they come along and chop the poppy down to match all the others. This is the same methodology a bully will take with a superstar or high achiever" (

Whether the bullying boss continues or not his/her lies, attacks or behavior, just proves the point made by research.  I know anyone reading this blog or other information on workplace bullying has walked away thinking differently about people like the bullying boss.  Be aware, be very aware, the pattern of a bully is consistent, there is always a target, whether in their family, in the workplace or any other place or person they can.  They know no boundaries, its all about them, their Narcissistic Personality Disorder(NPD) and their attention seeking behavior.  

The power and strength is in the truth!  And so its time to change the sign off name...

PS~stay tuned!


  1. As someone in the mental health profession, I must say I really enjoy your stance on workplace bullying although I am sorry you encountered such unprofessionalism and harassment in the workplace. I encourage you to keep blogging as these type of employers really need to be called out so their unprofessional tactics do not become the norm in the workplace. We are employees, not slaves, and it is a shame that others watched this go on and did not have the fortitude to stand up for what is right. Good luck to you!

  2. I appreciate your comments and plan to keep blogging, so much more to tell. Yes, it is a shame no one had the fortitude to stand up. The more information that is shared and linking it to research and mental health, the better understanding we all will have to counter this epidemic.