Chaco Canyon Consulting

101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies


by Richard Brenner

101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies is a collection of short tips to help targets of bullies deal with the consequences of bullying, and eventually, to end it.


Are you being Skip to the Details: How To Orderbullied at work? Is someone you supervise bullying you? Do you know how to identify bullying behavior? Do you know what to do when you experience bullying?

101 Tips for Targets of Workplace BulliesWorkplace bullying is so widespread that a 2010 survey indicated that 35% of workers have experienced bullying firsthand, and that bullying is about four times more prevalent than all other forms of illegal harassment combined. Yet, there are few laws to protect workers from bullies, bullying is not a crime in most jurisdictions, and few employers have specific anti-bullying policies.

101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies is filled with the insights targets of bullying need to find a way to survive, and then to finally end the bullying. It helps you avoid the traps and pitfalls that await you at work, and it guides you into new choices that can right the wrongs you have experienced.

Download on iTunesThis ebook is also available as an iBook at Apple's iTunes Store. Since all my ebooks are available in Acrobat (PDF) format, you've always been able to read them on ebook readers, such as iPad, iPhone, Nook, or Kindle. But this iTunes version makes use of the special capabilities of modern ebook readers. Check it out!

101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies is a collection of short tips that help targets formulate effective responses to bullying. You'll learn techniques that cause the bully to find new targets, and guide the organization towards getting control of its bullies. It gives concrete, nuts-and-bolts methods for dealing with real-life situations. It's a collection of significant size — 34 pages (18,000 words) in all.

That's about 1.5 times the size of Who Moved My Cheese?.

101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies makes a wonderful and potentially career-saving gift for a friend, a colleague, or a spouse who faces the terror of working while being targeted by a bully.

And it's all packaged in a single, compact ebook. Load it onto your Acrobat-enabled tablet, mobile devices, or laptop and carry it with you on your next trip.

Why I chose to publish this book as an ebook

Ebooks offer the reader several advantages:

Ebooks are searchable
If you want to find a passage that uses a particular word or phrase, you can use the search function of your reader to find it very easily. This means I don't have to write an index, which enables me to publish it more rapidly, and to update it more easily. And indices don't always have the words you want anyway.
You can carry it wherever you carry your reader
If you use your laptop, tablet, or mobile device as your reader, you can carry your ebook with you without additional weight or space. Great for people who travel, or who find themselves waiting for a meeting to start or for an appointment.
Ebooks are cheaper than hardcopy
Many of my ebooks serve a very specialized audience. To provide equivalent content in hardcopy would require unsustainably high pricing.
Ebooks enable me to address rapidly-varying subject matter
Change is accelerating. Many of my topic areas are changing so rapidly that the time to publish hardcopy is too long — the content would be obsolete before the book would be available.

The economics of e-publishing enable me to offer you free updates for one year from your purchase date. If a title you purchase is updated within that year, you'll receive an update automatically.

Some sample tips

Here are some sample tips.

Targets can mount massively coordinated counterattacks
Counterattacking too feebly is a common error targets make. Bullies know that counterattacks are possible, but since they select "easy" targets, they usually expect feeble counterattacks, if any.
Bullies generally don't expect massively coordinated counterattacks. That's one reason why massively coordinated counterattacks are so successful. A massively coordinated counterattack is an attack on multiple fronts, simultaneously. Simultaneity overwhelms the bully's ability to process what's happening, enabling the target to get inside the bully's OODA Loop. An example: filing a grievance with your employer, filing a lawsuit against the bully personally, and filing a lawsuit against the employer — all on the same day. The key principle: when you counterattack, escalate to the max. Hold nothing back.
Coordination with other targets of the same bully or other bullies can be an effective way to overwhelm not only the bullies involved, but also the cognizant officials as they try to suppress any evidence of bullying within the organization.
Understand how bullies use social isolation
To isolate someone socially is to deprive her or him of interaction with others. Since humans do need social interaction, this bullying tactic can be very painful for targets. But in most workplaces, complete elimination of social interactions is impossible. That's why bullies focus on the kinds of interaction deprivation that most effectively enhance psychic pain in the target.
Isolating the target from anyone who might provide support, comfort, or sound advice is the highest priority. Next in priority are techniques that create in the target a sense of being excluded. For example, failing to invite the target to meetings, or having the target attend by telephone rather than in person, could create a sense of exclusion.
Arranging for the target to work at remote locations facilitates all of these isolation tactics. Supervisors who are bullies sometimes use business travel to isolate targets, especially if the destination is undesirable. But office or cubicle location choices are also useful, if they are remote enough from the target's sources of comfort, support, or advice.
Bullies who are peers of the target employ social isolation tactics by excluding the target from meetings or informal gatherings with the target's peers. Bullies whose targets are their own supervisors can create a sense of exclusion by organizing meetings or gatherings of the supervisor's subordinates without involving the supervisor.
Understand the paradox of the "easy target"
It is widely believed — mistakenly — that bullies always choose "easy targets" — the defenseless and the weak. While it is true that they do find some easy targets attractive, not all attractive targets are "easy targets."
This circumstance arises because of a paradox. People who are not bullies generally don't appreciate that the difficult targets are precisely those who provide the greatest sense of reward to the bully, because successful bullying of such targets provides the most certain validation of the bully's power. Dominating an easy target proves relatively little.
That's why bullies don't seek easy targets per se. Rather, bullies prefer targets who provide opportunities for successful outcomes. An individual who is personally strong, but who, for various reasons, is likely to be dominated by the bully, is the most attractive kind of target.
Be precise when you lodge complaints about bullying
Imprecision in describing bullying behavior is a common error targets make when they complain to authorities. The imprecision is probably due to our natural inclination to avoid making confrontational statements about each other's behavior when we address each other. That's understandable, and that reluctance is usually a helpful trait, but not so when trying to end bullying.
For example, a target might approach a Human Resources representative or a supervisor about problems with a bullying peer, saying "I don't know how to talk to her — she almost always misinterprets what I say to mean something malicious, when I don't at all mean anything like that."
Here the target has made a statement that could reasonably be interpreted to indicate that both the target and the bully need to learn some communications skills, and a recommendation for training might very well be the outcome. The difficulty here is that the target had no such thing in mind, but many supervisors and human resources representatives fail to notice the ambiguity in the wording of the target's complaint.
What the target could have said was, "I think she is bullying me. She twists almost everything I say — I believe intentionally — so as to make me seem malicious, when I intend no malice, and when I believe no reasonable person could interpret what I said in that way. There is a pattern of bullying here that I believe the organization must address."
But even that direct approach might not work. A typical response to such a charge is to question the complainant's interpretation of events: "How do you know she misinterprets you intentionally?" You can reply to such skepticism by first restating the question in stronger terms: "An excellent question," you might say. Continuing, "How do I know that the misinterpretation isn't just an accident, and not intentional? I think it highly improbable, because if it were accidental, sometimes she would misinterpret me by making the opposite mistake — by believing that I am too nice, or too supportive. It isn't the misinterpretation alone that leads me to conclude that it is intentional; it is the extreme consistency of the pattern and the consistency in the kind of misinterpretation that leads me to believe that beneath the misinterpretation lies conscious intention. I believe she knows exactly what she's doing."
Presenting one's case in such stark terms can be very difficult for targets, especially when they have been intimidated by their bullies. But with many supervisors, leaving any opening for a more benign interpretation of one's complaints is likely to result in an unsuccessful outcome.
Be precise. Say what you mean. If it's too scary, get help and advice in how to approach the problem.

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What's in this book

Here's a chapter-by-chapter summary of what you'll find in this tips book.

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Reveal all chapter content summaries.Reveal all chapter content summaries.

Know how to recognize bullying

  • Know what workplace bullying is
  • Don't assume that your workplace is bully-free
  • Know the signs that you're being bullied
  • Understand that bullies fully expect to cause harm
  • You can decide what bullying is and what it isn't
  • Bullies do not fit a recognized profile

Understand the social structure of workplace bullying

  • Know the range of participant roles
  • Bullies conceive and/or initiate the abuse
  • The target is the recipient of the bully's abuse
  • The bully supervisor is the direct supervisor of the bully
  • Bully assistants carry out the bullying on behalf of the bully
  • Bully abettors enable the bullying to continue
  • Bully reinforcers support the bully but don't engage in abuse directly
  • Silent witnesses observe the bullying but don't acknowledge it
  • Authorities are managers in the bully's report chain
  • Target supervisors are usually aware of the bullying
  • Target allies take the part of the target, sometimes in the moment
  • Target comforters support the target, usually confidentially
  • Cognizant officials represent the interests of the organization
  • The oblivious are unaware of the bullying

Understand why bullies bully

  • Reject the myth of low self-esteem
  • Bullies derive a sense of power from bullying
  • Bullies interpret inaction by authority figures as endorsement
  • Others also interpret inaction by authority as endorsement
  • Bullying is often episodic
  • Most bullies do not bully out of fear of loss of job
  • Revenge against the target is rarely a primary motive
  • Personal animosity towards the target is rarely a primary motive

Know the difference between bullying and ordinary toxic conflict

  • Conflict is sometimes creative, but bullying is always destructive
  • In bullying, the bully is always the perpetuator
  • In bullying, the bully is the initiator
  • In ordinary toxic conflict, the parties have goals
  • Denial is common in bullying
  • In bullying, there is a marked imbalance of power
  • In bullying there is a stark asymmetry of inner experiences

Understand how to wait for relief

  • Set a time limit
  • Inventory the costs of waiting for relief
  • Seek personal counseling
  • Consider couples counseling
  • Use your vacation days

Understand the experience of the target

  • Targets can feel that they are not in control of their own lives
  • Targets search for ways to regain control of their lives
  • Targets often describe themselves as being on a roller coaster
  • Targets frequently experience social isolation
  • Many targets feel the urge to flee

Understand the experience of …

  • Know the possible motivations of the bully supervisor
  • Know the possible motivations of bully assistants
  • Know the possible motivations of bully abettors
  • Know the possible motivations of bully reinforcers
  • Know the possible motivations of silent witnesses
  • Know the possible motivations of authorities
  • Know the possible motivations of the target supervisor
  • Know the possible motivations of target allies
  • Know the possible motivations of target comforters
  • Know the possible motivations of cognizant officials
  • Know the possible motivations of the oblivious

Know the various strategies of bullying

  • Know the six strategies of workplace bullying
  • Understand how bullies use social isolation
  • Understand how bullies use information manipulation
  • Understand how bullies use abuse of working conditions
  • Understand how bullies use emotional abuse
  • Understand how bullies use professional discrediting
  • Understand how bullies use professional devaluation

Understand how bullies choose their targets

  • Bullies focus on outcomes
  • Understand the paradox of the "easy target"
  • Know the six classes of preferred targets

Understand how bullies defend themselves

  • Know your bully's defensive capabilities
  • Know how bullies use defensive tactics
  • Know how bullies use preventative defensive tactics

Understand the dynamics of confrontation

  • Bullies aren't necessarily seeking confrontation
  • Understand the OODA model
  • Bullies are intuitive users of the OODA model
  • Bullies use OODA to select targets
  • Bullies use OODA to control the tempo of the confrontations
  • Bullies use OODA to shape the bullying environment
  • Targets are more successful if they accept the necessity of counterattack
  • Targets should address their own reticence about counterattack
  • Targets can mount massively coordinated counterattacks
  • Targets who exploit situational awareness are more successful
  • Targets can work to degrade the bully's situational awareness
  • Targets can use deception and disinformation to confuse the bully
  • Targets must know their own vulnerabilities

Understand why ordinary conflict resolution strategies don't work

  • Guiding the parties toward achieving common goals doesn't work
  • Adopting a win-win approach doesn't work
  • Fostering mutual understanding doesn't work
  • Encouraging the parties to put the past behind them doesn't work
  • Encouraging mutual respect, while avoiding talk of punishment and blaming, doesn't work

Know tactics and strategies for ending the bullying

  • As a target, avoid revealing your new posture before you're really ready
  • As a target, know your legal rights
  • As a target who is the bully's supervisor, combine caution with counterattack
  • As a target who is the bully's supervisor, plan for the retaliation conversation
  • Know your employer's anti-bullying policy
  • Understand why targets wait too long before seeking advice and assistance
  • Start looking for legal advice long before you think you need it
  • Find proactive legal representation
  • Be precise when you lodge complaints about bullying
  • Be strategic about presenting evidence to authorities
  • Gathering evidence requires refined observational skills
  • Commit all your observations to an evidence journal
  • Understand the value of evidence provided by target allies
  • Understand the and don'ts of audio recording
Rick BrennerWhether you're a decision maker or someone about whom other people make decisions — or both! — the right coach can make a difference in your life. I might be the right coach for you. Call me, Rick Brenner, at (866) 378-5470 for a no-cost informal chat. Sign up in November and receive two hours as a bonus. Check it out!
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