Friday, February 6, 2009

Queen Bees and Bullies at Work

The obviously pregnant woman shook so violently from head to toe that I worried about the welfare of her baby. Was she cold? Was she nervous? No, she was enraged and trying with every fiber of her being to control her anger.

The key word is control--of herself and others. As a bully, she had a specific target. As a passive-aggressive personality, she had many years of practice in control before she met the target referenced here. Three of her techniques for retaining control were (1) to never divulge information about herself, (2) to always present herself as the image of perfection, and (3) to never lose self-control. Losing self-control would mean losing control of the situation and revealing something of her inner-self.

Passive-aggression, briefly defined as handling hostility or anger in underhanded ways, is reflected in the Gatekeeper category of workplace bullies. Gatekeepers often seize control by deviously withholding information and materials needed by other employees to do their jobs.

With some behaviors, she resembled office “Queen Bees”—collecting information that she may use against other employees, but never sharing information about herself. She was masterful at answering all questions with questions rather than statements.

Years later, control still is the name of her game. Control is her power. That’s what bullies are all about.