Back in my former days as a health care administrator at a university, I was in the lunchroom when one of the physicians came in upset and frustrated. This medical director, instructor in the medical school, director of residency program was a proud Mainer, born and breed. His rant went something like this.
I can’t believe these students, they apply to a Maine school to get a good education then slap a bumper sticker on their car that says “Maine People Suck.” Why do they want to come here to school then? Where is the respect and appreciation?
Through my laughter, I told him that the bumper sticker did not say Maine people suck it said “MEAN People Suck.” He did see the humor in it and it made for a great lunch conversation and then some.
Mean people do suck, suck all the positive energy out of you. They can make you uncomfortable and leave you questioning if you did something wrong. So how do we deal with people like this and are they adult bullies or just mean, unhappy people?
Periodically I get request for solutions in dealing with adult bullying. It is not my area of expertise. But with that said, this blog is about my experiences and where to get help and information. I suggest for professional help you check out all the great books, blogs and websites on adult bullying issue a specific comprehensive one I have listed below.
You would think that people mature as they get older, learn from experience and stop the negative behaviors they used in their youth and teen years. This is not always the case. Anyone can be a bully at any age or any time. Adult bullies tend to be more verbal than physical and can also be more undermining. The reasoning for this behavior is similar and it is where our children learn it. By imitating the adults in their lives.
Simply, bullies want to be the dominant person in the group, relationship or in the workplace, humiliating their targets to show everyone and the target who is “boss”.
I personally do not have any tolerance for people like this, having my share of contact with them in my life. Yes, I have fallen victim to them several times. What works best for me is ignoring them, moving on and in the right situation calling them on their bullying behavior. Getting upset over someone else’s crap just doesn’t do anything for me other than stress me out and take my focus away from my goals. I don’t need people like this. I now can spot them a mile away, a gift that took many years to perfect.
Of course this is easy for me to say, I’m self-employed. I have the highest respect and admiration for my boss!
With that said, it is important to recognize how and why this is happening and come up with a personal plan not to accept the behavior or be put in a situation to become their target. You don’t want to be put in danger, or in a position to get fired if it is in the workplace. If your bully is an abusive spouse you will need professional help to safely handle the situation.
Here are some different types of adult bullies to help you decide:
The Wicked Witch of the West: Narcissistic Adult Bully:This type of adult bully is self-centered and does not have empathy for others, and never will. There is no anxiety or guilt around consequences. They seem to feel good about themself, but in reality has a narcissism that requires putting others down and controlling situations to their advantage. Are you a flying monkey?
The Drama Queen: Impulsive Adult Bully:Adult bullies in this category are more spontaneous and plan their bullying out less. Even if consequences are likely, this adult bully has a hard time restraining his or her behavior. In some cases, this type of bullying may be unintentional, resulting in periods of stress, or when the bully is actually upset or concerned about something unconnected with the target. Are you a scapegoat?
Physical Bully: Adult bullying rarely turns physical, but there are bullies that may become physical. In some cases, the adult bully may not actually physically harm the target, but may use threats of harm, or physical domination through looming over them. Additionally, this person may destroy your personal property. Do not confuse this with domestic violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. If you are physically assaulted contact the police immediately.
Verbal Adult Bully:Words can be quite damaging and leave lasting emotional scars. Adult bullies who use this type of tactic may start rumors, gossip or exclude their target. They can also use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate another person. This subtle type of bullying also has the advantage to the bully, which is difficult to document. However, the emotional and psychological impact can result in reduced job performance and even depression. Stand up for yourself, be the star of your own show.
Baby You’re a Big Girl Now! Secondary Adult Bully, the bystander:This is someone who does not initiate the bullying directly, but joins in so that he or she does not actually become the target at a later date. This person can also be the one who doesn’t say something is someone is being targeted. Know when to say something and when to keep quiet. Grow up, don’t ambush someone just to be popular. Have you seen Mean Girls?
Preventing or eliminating adult bullying must be a priority for any organization (including schools). Bullying can affect the health and climate of the entire organization not to mention to workplace violence. When looking for a new job, check out the policies for workplace behaviors, violence and harassment. If they don’t have them, think twice.
According to a U.S. report, it estimates one in five workers experiences harmful bullying at work each year. It appears that the most productive and valuable workers face the most scrutiny from bullies.Unfortunately, unresolved conflict can lead to higher turnover rate, decreased productivity, legal action and other unnecessary results. Stopping an adult bully requires cooperation from the target, witnesses and the proper authorities for the most effective results. Just like we teach the kids: The adult you can trust, target and bystander.
Bullies have inferiority complexes where they dislike anyone with the ability to cooperate and be non-confrontational. If you are that person that does the job and does it right or you are the one who always excels at your duties, you may be in line to be targeted. Define what makes you a target for bullying and strategize how you are going to solve the problem.
Usually, targets of bullies at the workplace are the most productive. Bring this factor to the attention of your employer to help management see the risk for high turnover rates, which affects productivity. A sensible, wise and practical employer will step in to stop the bullying behavior by reprimanding or removing that person from your environment.
Some things you can do:
If you are being bullied start a journal of the all actions of the bully. Include dates, times, etc. Having irrefutable evidence will make your case stronger to stop an adult bully.
Make the bully explain their actions in front of others that he respects. Sometimes, the perceived loss of influence over others can make a bully stop.
File a formal complaint to the appropriate authorities. For example, file a complaint with your human resources department or the local police when it becomes harassment. Yes, you have legal rights! Confirm what is considered harassment for your area and put the abusive behavior on record. Contact your local police station to learn more about legally filing a complaint.
Some of the information used in this article is from Bully Free at Work. Find more ways to deal with workplace bullies at their website Bully Free at Work http://bullyfreeatwork.com/blog. This site has all the information, podcasts and article you need to learn on adult bullying.