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Bureaucratic discourse is an exercise in verbal beatings that begets sycophantic pleasers – an attempt to impale employees on the rapier of managerial discourteousness. Not only do bullies at work engage in outrageous behavior, but they feel no sense of shame in the aftermath.

Adherence to a twisted code of corporate morality can transform a free thinking, creative, independent being into a submissive pandering sycophant, the modern day unit of mass production. Sycophants are docile individuals (at least toward those senior), “kept” employees who dare not bite the hand that feeds them.

Because sycophants are always wagging their tail, always happy, and always the bearers of good news, senior employees need not expend precious mental resources tending to their conflicts. One less human element to dominate or vanquish, bootlickers ease the burden of their day to day interaction. Messages to non-sycophants are either “funneled” through a third party or delivered by an impersonal method.

Bureaucrats cannot give of themselves what they don’t have, and what they have is self-hate, or lack of self-respect expressed as a lack of regard for others (Carr-Ruffino, 2001). In First Break all the Rules Buckingham and Coffman observe employees’ desire for recognition: “No one likes to be ignored.” Some employees learn to fill the void of appreciation by becoming sycophant lovers themselves. Sycophants and spiritual sell-outs get the light end of the hickory stick, and sometimes receive an occasional disbursement of organizational largesse.

What of the defiant souls who refuse to tow the company line, and who are unafraid of the following backlash? – those freedom fighters who rail against injustice to promote a more civil union at work?. If bullies don’t destroy the target’s soul, if there’s a shard of will remaining, then when victims recover (and realize what the bullies have done) they might just petition for the opposite like a person possessed. The “show them” strategy is chosen by those who won’t allow themselves to mouth the platform of the most unpleasant. A lightening rod:

  1. Speaks their peace
  2. Starts a movement
  3. Acts outspoken, and 
  4. Stakes their claim to an opposite stand

People back off when they see former victims will not so easily fold. Those wronged may thus rise out of the ashes to become something bullies no longer recognize.

If you have suffered at work, show others the resilient side of your nature. Choose a higher moral ground than the majority of people around you.

The battle lines are drawn.



Carr-Ruffino, N.  (2001).  The creative intelligence model:  Building innovative skills (2nd ed.).  Boston, MA:  Pearson Custom Publishing.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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