Sunday, September 23, 2007

This is Scarey: 1% of Adult Working Population Are Psychopaths

Dr. John Clarke, an expert in the criminal mind, discovered that psychopaths are not only people you'd find in prisons or in the courtroom. They are lurking and scheming in workplaces world-wide. They lie, cheat, steal, and they manipulate, victimize, and destroy co-workers.

The problem for their victims is they are very good talkers and appear to be charming and intelligent. Their ruthlessness is mistaken as ambition and a drive to succeed. In a way it is. They will do anything to get what they want--power, salary, status.

According to Dr. Clarke, the workplace psychopath thinks the same as the criminal psychopath. The difference is criminal psychopaths physically destroy their victims; whereas, workplace psychopaths psychologically destroy their victims. I would add that the health of workplace victims is often seriously compromised for the long-term due to intense and prolonged stress. Indeed, workplace victims often feel their lives are destroyed.

Clarke says there are two weapons you can use: education and teamwork. Education helps you recognize what is happening and empowers you to stop the self-blame. Teamwork keeps you from becoming isolated.

Build a personal team advises Clarke and tell people what is taking place, because "if a psychopath can't isolate you, he can't destroy you."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bullying as Employee Motivation. Bizarre!

Can you believe it?! Some workplaces actually support bullies and bullying! It has to do with the hierarchy of management and competitive environments. Where competition is intense, bullying becomes the common and accepted way to motivate employees. Bullying becomes part of the culture of the organization.

Of course, bullying is not openly or actively promoted, but rather, it is supported by silence and inaction of organizational people who have authority. It is supported and can be perpetrated by any level of authority--from directors to managers to supervisors to reports.

Although people respond differently to bullying, some reactions are consistent: bullying increases stress and decreases morale. The universal result is that performance declines.

People subjected to bullying cannot do their best work when they constantly are fearful of meeting up with the bully and being further intimidated. Isn’t it bizarre to think that fear makes good employees?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Red-Hair Bullying

My mother, a high-spirited, intelligent and expressive woman, often told of how she hated her bright red hair when she was a young child in elementary school. She was teased so much about her hair she avoided doing anything in school that would attract notice. Although she completed all assignments on time and knew the content, she chose not to contribute or solicit information in class. The little red-haired girl even timed her walk to school so she would arrive just as the bell was ringing and wouldn’t be subjected to early morning playground teasing.

Imagine my surprise to learn just this week that in England, excessive teasing of red-haired people, whether children at school or adults in the workplace, is called Gingerism. (Mother’s hair was much redder than ginger.) According to international lawyers Pinsent Masons, unchecked gingerism in the workplace can be considered bullying and can become a legal issue.

From a cross-cultural perspective, the practice of picking on people with red hair is thought to be a particularly British trait. Interestingly, Mother was of English heritage, but the community in which she grew up was of German descent. Obviously, globalization is not a new phenomenon—it just occurs faster now.

Final note: By the time Mother entered high school, she had overcome her shyness and no longer minded some light-hearted teasing. In fact, in the students’ notes of her high school yearbooks, she is frequently called Red.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Northern Ireland Takes on Bullying at Work

Belfast Set To Host Anti-Bullying Road Show

Northern Ireland News 24 August 2007

Belfast is being included in a nationwide road show to crackdown on the rising levels of harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Recent research has shown that 10% of employees are bullied at work and this serious issue already costs UK employers over £2 billion a year in sick pay, staff turnover and loss of production.

The road show will arrive in Belfast on Wednesday, 5 September, with an open seminar for organisations at the Malone Lodge Hotel, Eglantine Avenue. Guest speakers include Mandy Telford, Dignity at Work Co-ordinator from trade union Unite.

The current shortage of skilled labour across Northern Ireland highlights an increasing need for organisations to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying from the outset, and to have anti-bullying and harassment policies in place.

Peter Williamson, Regional Secretary for Unite, said: "Bullying in the workplace is a significant issue for companies across Ireland. We want senior managers in Belfast to lead by example and show they are taking a stand against bullying."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Toxic Work Cultures Support Bullies

Did you know workplace bullying has been labelled a worldwide epidemic and in some nations, it is considered a workplace safety issue? For example, South Australia and Canada?

If you are being bullied by someone at work, don't keep it to yourself. That just makes it worse. The stress continues to build as you have no way to vent your frustration and fear, which can lead to serious health problems--physical and psychological.

The bullying will continue because bullies get their way. Why? Few people complain about bullying behavior. It might even be admired by people--other than the target--as the aggressive and competitive ways of a true leader. The behavior needed to be successful. Some companies support this type of behavior, creating a toxic culture that undermines their employees and their own productivity.

Do you work in a toxic environment? I hope not.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Screeamin' Mimis

Some bullies are characterized as Screamin' Mimis. You get the picture from the name. They shout and scream for no particular reason --or for any reason. They rant and rave about everything you do. It's never right. It's never good enough.

In a small business setting of only 20 people including the two owners, a Screamin' Mimi targeted a young designer. Targeted means he chose her as his verbal punching bag and "beat" on her daily. She began developing the classic symptoms of a target. She feared going to work every morning. Just thinking about it made her heart pound and her chest tighten until she could hardly breathe. She began taking sick days for medical appointments and sometimes just to avoid running into him. After months of this abuse, she finally couldn't take it anymore and got up the nerve to tell him she didn't like the way he treated her. At that moment, the owner walked in, heard the young designer's words, and told her she had to apologize to Mr. Screamin' Mimi. She fled the room in tears, but the owner didn't relent.

Although the bully resigned for personal reasons and left shortly after this incident, the designer searched for a new position and soon joined a different company that does not support a culture of bullying.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Your comment brings out another point: Males, as well as females, are targets of Bad Apples.

A 2007 nationwide poll found that more than half of American workers have been the victim of or heard about supervisors or employers behaving abusively--making sarcastic jokes or teasing remarks, rudely interrupting, publicly criticizing, giving dirty looks to or yelling at subordinates, or ignoring them as if they were invisible. Because these behaviors have become so commonplace, many people do not consider them to be problematic, but they are, especially when directed at a specific person over long periods of time.

Thank you for writing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Why Is Bad Apple Behavior Tolerated?

There can be several reasons why organizations tolerate Bad Apples and their bad behavior:
ß They do not know the real costs to the organization of Bad Apple behaviors.
ß Incivility and bullying occur in all levels of organizations, including the top; thus, they can become part of the organizational culture.
ß Bad behavior is often excused or ignored by the people who should be addressing the issue.
ß Some Bad Apples are protected by relationships, status as key producers, or position in the organization
ß Frequently, bad behavior is misinterpreted, for example, “It’s just a personality conflict.”
ß Bullies are adept at operating within the guidelines and policies of an organization making discipline or dismissal difficult.
ß Although other employees might be aware of Bad Apples, they often fly under the radar of their superiors and escape admonishment if not reported.
ß Targets do not report the abusive behavior they endure.

As targets of Bad Apples, we tend to tolerate their behaviors despite the pain they inflict and do not speak up in our own defense. Sometimes it is out of shame. Targets often think they did something wrong. Maybe if we work harder, better, smarter, it will end. Sometimes, inability to speak out is due to fear of retaliation. Whatever the reasons for not speaking out, continued tolerance perpetuates Bad Apple behaviors.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Welcome to my new blog, Bullies Among Us.

I created this blog to provide a safe haven for those of us who have been or are the targets of nasty, undeserved behavior by one or more people in the places where we work.

Bad behavior is not limited to any particular group of people in the workplace. Not to top-level, management, supervisors, peers, subordinates, men, women, Baby Boomers, Generations Xers or any other group. Nor are targets of nasty behavior limited. Bullies and targets, alike, are found in every layer of the workplace.

Think about this--one in every six employees has experienced bullying at work. Most of us tolerate it until it gets so bad we become ill--physically or psychologically.

I hope this blog will provide an anonymous forum for us to talk about our experiences without fear of repercussions rather than keeping emotions bottled up inside. Among us, perhaps we can come up with ways to stop bulllying behaviors.

Please feel free to comment.

Thank you for visiting.

Bad Apple Polisher