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Do You Work For a Bully?

Published June 30, 2014 6:03 AM by Scott Warner

Remarkably, 54 million Americans have been bullied at some point in their careers, either peer to peer or from a boss. Writes author Sherri Gordon in About, “Many times people don’t even realize that their boss is bullying them. Instead, they falsely believe that their boss is just tough or pushes his workers to get results.” She lists verbal abuse (shouting, humiliation, etc.), intimidation, questioning performance, intrusion of privacy, undermining, and other characteristics of these workplace monsters.

I’ve certainly worked for bosses who have annoyed, harassed, and micromanaged me only to blow off their own bullying with “I’m just pushing you to succeed.” Then why haven’t I ever felt like a success working for these jerks?

Jacquelyn Smith describes several bullying bosses in Forbes, from those who throw tantrums to those who are covert, changing their behavior day to day. “These bosses with bullying tendencies are masters at pushing you to the limit ... they may attempt to disguise their demeaning and discourteous behavior with levity, saying, ‘Oh, I was just joking,’ or ‘You’re too sensitive. You know you’re doing a great job,’” she writes.

I repeat: why doesn’t this ever feel like a great job?

While there are bullies at all levels, most are in management. It’s riskier to bully peer to peer but easy to push subordinates around. The above article cites 72% of workplace bullies as bosses in a study done by the Workplace Bullying Institute.

I’ll admit I’ve never found a solution to working for a bully other than quitting. If the bully is boss, chances are he or she was hired by a bully and exists in a culture that tolerates bullying. These poisonous environments are toxic and toxigenic, and they are as unlikely to change as a prison from the bottom up. Smart and creative people jump ship, and victims and enablers languish in the hold.

A bullying boss can be the toughest problem in your career, keeping you awake at night, upsetting your stomach, and robbing joy from your family time. It sure ain’t fun. Do you work for a bully?

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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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