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“The perpetrator – the person who’s ‘dissing’ another – acts in a manner that shows complete disregard for the target’s humanity” (Namie, 2011).

At work, do you always feel like you’re a hair trigger away from getting your hand slapped? Are compliments few and sparsely administered, whereas reprimands are plentiful, exaggerated, and designed to let you know who’s boss? Managers’ focus signals which activities they most enjoy. Abusers spend more time punishing individuals than praising them – if the reverse were true, perhaps there would be more to praise in the first place.

Inflicting pain over time anesthetizes us to the anguish we cause other people. Moreover, it creates a culture of fear in which workers are more worried about punishment than about doing their jobs. Those who are humiliated feel the desire to lash out; but they are not however equal opportunity offenders (which is why bosses typically never know their true feelings). “Bullying will always be used to advance a manager’s personal agenda – rendering the target subservient, humiliating a person in front of his team – rather than about getting work done” (Namie, 2011).

Avoidance behavior does little to create a sense of community, and flourishes where bosses come running when their radar detects something is amiss.

It’s difficult to take direction from someone who doesn’t know how to behave. Managerial malfeasance begs the question: How can we develop as persons when all people do is hand us compliments?”

Today, try an experiment:

  • Before you act, put yourself in the other’s position. Would you be happy being treated in a similar fashion? If not, you may want to rethink your game plan to include more age appropriate behavior.
  • Try not to go overboard when you think other people are “going around you.” Instead, figure out why they’re avoiding you in the first place.
  • Don’t slap hands, either verbally or in writing. In most cases immediate reprimands act as relationship repellant.
  • Think about what you derive from your job, and why you hold it. Remember that your position is not a joystick.
  • You’re a servant leader first, and master and commander only in those rare instances where you lose personal control.
  • Consider whether your actions can be perceived as arrogant. Are you constantly telling workers what to do, instead of soliciting their opinions? How do you act when someone offers up a challenge? Smack down management will get generate silence, search behaviors, and sabotage.
  • Do you have any true friends on the job? How short lived are the relationships that you have? Do people enjoy socializing with you, or do they feel uncomfortable in your presence?
  • Do you keep your word, and do you honor your commitments?
  • Do you talk about real issues that are important to your employees, or only those superficial topics with which you agree? Do you hold grudges, instead of discussing problems? Can you tolerate disagreement, or if faced with a prickly issue do you invite people to leave? Have you ever had a real, honest, heart to heart conversation with employees, or is interaction primarily one down?

In the face of resistance, bullying behavior will backfire. Consider whether the felt but unseen presence of employee discontent could develop full into full blown revolution.

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

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