Allstate Protects Their Bullies

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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:38 pm ... Page1.html

Let’s talk about sexual harassment
By Priyadarshinee Luckoo Published 07/16/2009

Sexual harassment, defined as intimidating, bullying or coercing an individual for sexual favours, is very much present in power relationships.

It includes a range of behaviour from seemingly mild, verbal transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault. It is one of the means by which the hierarchically powerful address unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours.

Interestingly, when we say sexual harassment, we do not omit the possibility of a woman being the harasser and a man being the victim. It is often unheard of as it involves more than just shame to the victim. The male victim, seeing such acts as an open challenge to his male ego, will not report this type of exploitation.

Different kinds
Generally, sexual harassment is defined under two broad categories, the Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment and the Hostile Environment sexual harassment.

The quid pro quo kind of harassment can often be seen at the workplace where a boss may be demanding sexual favours from an employee in return for credentials, projects, promotions, and other types of opportunities, or even to retain him/her within the company. In educational institutions, it could be the teacher who asks for such favours from students, in exchange of a good grade or a favourable recommendation.

Thus, the person who commits quid pro quo sexual harassment is someone who holds the power to influence the victim’s employment or educational situation.

The second type of sexual harassment, the hostile environment, occurs when a co-worker or someone occupying a superior post in the work­place makes unwelcome sexual advances. These interfere with work performance and/or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. In the case of students, it would be their learning environment that would be affected. The sexual-harassing conduct could be verbal, visual or physical. Non-verbal sexually-harassing conduct would be leering, staring or glaring at someone. Recently in Mauritius, there was an education officer who was accused of peeping beneath the school uniform of his students.

Sexual harassers also tend to display visual sexually-suggestive calendars, photographs, posters or cartoons in the workplace. Other harassers get to physically-harassing conduct. An example is when the harasser gives a massage around the neck or shoulders when the victim did not ask for it.

Acomplainant usually undergoes a lot of trials and tribulations, for having dared voice out injustice. Victims who speak out against sexual harassment are often labelled as troublemakers who are paving their way to “power trips”, or who are looking for attention. The victim's complaint is seen as a problem instead of being considered as a problem.

Most often, just like in cases of rape and sexual assault, the victim himself/herself becomes the accused. People would not hesitate to say that it was the victim who initiated that kind of relationship. Besides, the latter's physical appearance, private life, and character are very likely to be criticised and attacked by people. Additionally, they risk hostility and isolation from significant others like colleagues, supervisors, teachers, fellow students, and even friends.

The professional and educational life of victims is negatively affected when they complain against their perpetrator. At school, for example, the girls are given poor marks or low grades and have their projects sabotaged. It can even lead to jobs denial or debarred from academic opportunities. The adult employees may have their work hours cut back, and other repressive actions may be taken against them. Their pro­ductivity may be undermined.

They may be suspended, asked to resign, or be fired from their jobs altogether. Moreover, a professor or employer accused of sexual harassment, or who is the colleague of a perpetrator, can use their power to see that a victim is never hired again, or accepted in another school. Retaliation can also lead to further sexual harassment.

Many a time, female complainants do not necessarily get sympathy from their likes. In fact the other women may view the female complainant enviously. There is that jealousy of “she is beautiful enough to attract his attention.” The women react with much hostility towards the complainant. However, the fear of being targeted for harassment or retaliation may also cause some women to respond unfavourably.

According to the National Human Rights Commission's Annual Report 2008, published in March 2009, chapter 4 on sex discrimination dictates that, “conciliation can only be effected if the complainant agrees to this course of action [...]. It is possible in certain types of sexual harassment to talk to the perpetrator and to warn him to put a stop to reprehensible conduct.

This may be done when there is verbal harassment, gestural and visual harassment or even harassment by phone or email. [...]. In cases of conciliation if the victim agrees that the matter be settled, she can continue peacefully with her occupation on condition that the perpetrator will turn over a new leaf. The victim has the power to lodge a complaint anew if the perpetrator persists in his wrongdoing
Last edited by RatPak11 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:30 pm, edited 11 times in total.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:54 pm ... o_obn.html

Friday opinin'
Posted by Robin Abrahams July 17, 2009 06:10 AM

Usually on Fridays I wrap up the previous Thursday's advice, but since so few of you bothered to weigh in on the topic of obnoxious teammates, it's hardly worth the bother!

However, speaking of obnoxious teammates, and neighbors, and in-laws, what's the best advice you've ever gotten--or figured out on your own--for how to deal with difficult people? This is what I'm going to be talking about with Hoda & Kathie Lee, so I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

You can also help me decide on my outfit! Options are here for your commenting pleasure.

8 comments so far...

My dad told me the best way to deal with the passive aggressive folks and the hecklers is to call them on it. It worked for me just recently - I have some difficult colleagues to work with. And I find the only way to deal with them to to explicitly call them on every comment. "Can you tell me why you think this is a bad idea, instead of just a 'no'?" or "The folks in the back, you seem to be disagreeing with what we're saying, but the rest of us can't you? We'd like your feedback too". It's a pain to have to do, but they get out of hand otherwise.

I've taught this to my 7 year old son as well. My family like to joke around a lot, and he gets frustrated when we are being silly with him. So he’s learned to turned to the offended adult and say “You are just being ridiculous. Please stop.” Generally makes us stop, or at least pause for a while.

Posted by Sally July 17, 09 06:28 AMAlthough I've worked with a handful of saboteurs -- people genuinely devoted to my failure or the failure of my group -- most people are well-intended. In the darkest moments, when things seem to be going horribly wrong, it's helpful to remember that the other person is usually trying to do the right thing. With that as a foundation, it's often easier to reframe my own thoughts and work cooperatively toward a solution.

Also, a little praise goes a long way. Don't be abstemiuos with compliments when someone does something right or well.

And when possible, visiting a person in person is often more effective than emailing or phoning.

Posted by liza July 17, 09 08:38 AMMy brother in law's response to difficult people is to bow his head slightly, softly say, "God bless you," pause for a moment, and then continue with what he was saying or doing. More often than not, they can't seem to come up with anything else to say.

Posted by Marcy July 17, 09 09:20 AMMy former boss, a very experienced political figure, taught me a trick that has never failed me in any situation. If someone is bullying you, just say pleasantly and politely with a good ol boy back slappin' smile, "Hey, Jim, are you trying to bully me? Cut it out, please -- I'm trying to think here... Ha, ha!" Then go right back, politely and calmly, to the topic at hand (or switch topics). This works for bullying, intimidation, patronizing, attempts to make another look stupid, etc.. I love this little trick because it's 100% honest, to the point and firm, but polite. It's a much nicer, face-saving way of saying, "I'm on to you, buddy, and I won't stand for it!"

Posted by kmacjp July 17, 09 10:48 AMBest advice I've ever read was in a forum on how to write a corporate complaint letter: You can bitch and moan and complain until the cows come home, but you need tell the other person what you want/need/expect to happen so that they know how they can fix the issue.

Basically, our friends and families are no better at reading our minds than the poor cog in the corporate wheel tasked with reading your complaint, so rather than just stating the issues, it's helpful to figure out what you want to see happen and tell the person that, too. The bonus is that you have to think about your own needs/feeling. Then you figure out whether you have a legitimate issue that can be solved or maybe you just need someone to listen to you complain.

Posted by bluemoose July 17, 09 01:05 PMThe best advice I ever got for this was from my sister. She said to "change the script in my head." Example:

New boss was micromanaging and challenging everything I did. I thought she was out to get me (she had a reputation for coming into a group and cleaning house.) Because the script in my head was "she's out to get me" every time we'd interact, I'd respond defensively. When I changed the script to "she's just new, and needs my help to get up to speed," I was able to drop the defensiveness and our interactions improved dramatically. I began to cheerfully give her more information (extremely detailed - more info than she would ever need) before she asked for it, and she quickly stopped micromanaging.

Example: obnoxious neighbor complaining about our car parked in front of her house. Script in head was saying, "this neighbor is one of those cranky types who can never be pleased." Changed the script to, "this neighbor is old, probably lonely, might have trouble carrying groceries in from car parked further down the street." Interactions changed dramatically, because this new script prompted me to spend a little time chit-chatting, and asking if she needed help bringing her groceries in to the house.

Example: new mother-in-law constantly calling me, asking to get together, and nagging me to do this or that for my husband. Script in my head, "Oh goodness, what did I sign myself up for now?? Changed script to: "it's not me she craves time with - it's her son." This shift in perspective caused me to encourage my husband to get over there and check in on her, by himself, once a week, and spend some quality time with her. Situation improved dramatically!

Posted by anecdotal evidence July 17, 09 01:47 PM1 through 4 above are right on, especially with regard to bullies. The same approach works for lechers, too, who must be confronted the first time they take a litte license, as in: "I understand you didn't mean to brush my breast with your elbow, but don't do it again." For off the wall and unwelcome comments, my older-sister-who-knows-everything (and usually does) recommends saying: "Thank you
for sharing that." Then change the topic. For peope who interrupt constantly, interrupt them and say: "Excuse me, but I'd like to finish what I am saying." Then don't back down and finish up quickly. For people one might find difficult to deal with through no fault of their own, have a heart. They are mostly just trying to get along the best they can with illness, obesity, incontinence, depression, or poverty, or maybe hearing or vision problems, and probably don't intend to aggravate you personally. Try to be patient and then set limits when you have to. Don't be a pushover, but be humane to difficult people who also have something to offer; sometimes you can develop a powerful and loyal ally. Some of the most difficult people I worked with became mentors and some became friends.

Posted by still learning July 17, 09 04:13 PMHi, Miss C. In Europe right now and encountering this type of situation. We were told we could not get a rental car, which we had reserved, to drive from country A to country B. All of our plans and and reservations revolved around said car. At the rental agency in the airport, we were beyond tired, but my husband did what Blue Moose #5 above suggested: tell them what you need. Eventually, we got our car. Once on the road, I told our children that Dad had solved the problem with Patience, Persistence, and Politeness. And something else that didn't start with P -- that none of us can remember anymore -- but it had to do with double-checking one's reservations. We are now in country B! (Wow, gas is expensive in Europe.)

Posted by Mimi July 18, 09 04:44 PM
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:01 pm

Workplace Bullying Not Stopped by Employee Satisfaction ProgramsPosted on June 29th, 2009 by Ben Leichtling in All News, Blogosphere News, Business News, North American News, Op-ed, Society and Culture, US NewsRead 420 times.Most people believe that happy employees are more productive, treat each other better and give better customer service. That’s not true.

When human resource departments push employee satisfaction initiatives at work, too often they encourage the most selfish, negative and hostile employees to harass, bully and abuse coworkers and supervisors.

Of course, I’m not encouraging companies to mistreat their employees. But I am encouraging leaders to question the assumed correlation between happiness and productivity, between satisfaction and teamwork.

A recent report in the Harvard Business Review also suggests that there is no correlation between employee satisfaction and customer service in the workplace.

Here’s why. Usually, mediocre and poor employees and managers are happiest when they work less and are held to lower standards. They want or feel entitled to whatever makes them happy, but they won’t pay for those rewards by increased productivity.

These people often want to rule the roost. When they’re empowered by being listened to, they become mean, vindictive and cruel. They use their power to increase bullying and abuse of the most productive employees and managers, and of people they simply don’t like.

Employee satisfaction programs encourage the most negative, bitter and hostile people to vent their anger and to continue venting forever. As long as they’re venting, someone will be catering, begging and bribing them.

I’ve seen that time and time again. So have you. Think of all the people you work with. Ask yourself questions about each one individually, “If that person was in charge, what would happen – who are their favorites; how hard would they work; what corners would they cut; are they lazy, negative, hyper-critical slackers; are they gossiping, backbiting rumor mongers; would they try to bring everyone into the team?”

Instead of focusing on employee satisfaction, survey your most productive, lowest maintenance employees and managers. By “most productive,” I don’t mean only “shooting stars.” I also mean steady, highly competent employees. Don’t ask the mediocre or “bottom feeder” employees and managers what would make them happier.

Don’t have HR departments do these surveys; they’ll get lied to. Use written surveys but don’t pay much attention to them; people expect them but you won’t get the critical people-information you need. Conduct skillful personal interviews with the right employees to identify the people or departments whose poor attitudes thwart or destroy productivity.

Ask the most productive employees, “What would make you more productive (effective, efficient)?” Focus on, for example, better systems, better technology and better coworkers.

Give your most productive employees and managers what they need to be more productive. The technology and systems are usually straightforward areas. Critical to your success is constant churning of your poorest employees and managers so the most productive ones can be even more productive.

Ask the most productive employees, “What rewards do you want for being even more productive?” Give them much of what they want. Remember, one highly productive employee is worth at least two poor ones.

Usually, you’ll find that the number one desire of highly productive staff is better coworkers, so they can accomplish more and look forward to working with people who also hold up their end of the table.

Don’t cater to poor attitudes. Stop negativity, entitlement and bullying at work.

HR usually distracts and detracts from efforts to increase customer service or productivity. HR tends to focus on surveying and catering to the happiness of all employees, which does not increase customer satisfaction. HR usually doesn’t survey customers and you don’t want them to.

Focus your own efforts on measuring productivity and customer service.

As a leader, if you say, “I don’t know who my most productive employees are,” or “I don’t want to hurt the feelings of employees or managers that I don’t interview” you’ve just shown that you and your managers aren’t doing your jobs.

Give your best employees what they need or you’ll stimulate turnover of the people you need to keep.

Resource Cited: ... omers/ar/1

Ben Leichtling, Ph.D. is author of the books and CDs “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “Eliminate the High cost of Low Attitudes.” He is available for coaching, consulting and speaking. To find practical, real-world tactics to stop bullies and bullying at home, school, work and in relationships, see his web site ( and blog (

Let Others Know About This Post

2 users commented in " Workplace Bullying Not Stopped by Employee Satisfaction Programs " Follow-up comment rss or Leave a Trackback Dr_Vee said,in June 30th, 2009 at 2:00 pm I am very concerned that organizations
will view this article as a guideline, accepting generalizations as facts. I would suggest including scholarly research so that readers can draw their own conclusions. In this current climate of workplace bully bosses, where organizations turn a deaf ear to worker complaints, and where older workers are being harassed, and forced to quit, this article seems to justify orgs to escalate. Afterall employers have options to fire dissatisfied workers. Also where was the study done? What are the demographics of the participants, what industries are represented and how many participants included in study? Too many concerns regarding the above.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:39 am ... kforce-Act

Healthy Workplace Bill versus Healthy Workforce Act
June 27, 5:12 PM

I recently wrote an article about the Healthy Workforce Act, but many of you have also heard about the Healthy Workplace Bill. So what's the difference? How does it affect employees and corporations?

Actually, both are designed to improve the daily workplace environments of employees, and both will benefit the health and lifestyle of today's workers. But the Healthy Workplace Bill is a bill which is being introduced specifically to address workplace bullying, mobbing and harassment without regard to any protected class status.

This bill is being introduced in several states across the country. As an example, the Massachusetts legislation presented the serious health and emotional trauma that bullying can influence on its targets. It also identifies the deep financial exposure a corporation faces with the problems bullying or abusive treatment causes when it continues unchecked against its employees. This Healthy Workplace bill is very distinct in its description of the harm bullying and mobbing can cause to its intended targets, and the disruption such acts can cause on individuals and a workforce. In reading the actual legislation, one must pause and wonder why this legislation wasn't introduced decades earlier.

Since 1964, employees have been protected under Title VII under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, those protections extend solely to those protected class distinctions, thus bullying was not and is not considered illegal in the eyes of the law. Bullying legislation such as the Healthy Workplace Bill are sorely needed to ensure that bullying and other similar acts are no longer tolerated by the law.

Several states are pursuing the Healthy Workplace Bill. They will probably be more successful at the state level than attempting to get a federal bill passed. However, recent articles and blogs are quite encouraging about the momentum of the bills and the chances of successful passage.

The combined benefits of of a Healthy Workforce Act and a Healthy Workplace Bill will only increase the overall work experience for all employees. Each bill should be supported on its relative merits and prospective for a positive impact for today's work force. For additional information on the status of California and what's going on with California's Health Workplace Advocates, you are encouraged to visit

If you have additional information you'd like me to visit and publish, please contact me at
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:20 am ... lies-bully

Trouble at work: Why do bullies bully?
August 6, 5:27 PMWorkplace Issues Examiner Jan Aylsworth

Why bullies bully is one of the issues addressed by Judy Blando, DM, CPC, in her doctoral dissertation. She noted that the American Psychological Association defines “bullying" as “aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time, and occurs in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power or strength.”

For her research, which examined being bullied in relation to job satisfaction and productivity, Dr. Blando defined bullying as “a situation in which one or more individuals perceive they are subjected to consistent, persistent, and negative repetitive acts that are meant to harm.” This broader definition implies that a bully could also be a subordinate, a co-worker – and also a “she.” Anyone will do – just as long as the intent is to cause the target mental or physical stress and anguish.

She uses the term “target” instead of “victim” to avoid disempowering the individual being bullied. People bully for different reasons, and here’s a 10,000-foot view of some of them.

Insecure bullies
-- Workplace bullies who are insecure consider the target a threat and may even envy him or her. They seek to control. By dominating someone they perceive as more competent than themselves, they try to hide their inadequacy and feel more in control.

Chronic bullies
-- Chronic bullies are the ones who bully because they may have a personality disorder, such as narcissism, which prevents them from seeing their behavior as wrong. Narcissists must have their needs met and may see other people as little more than objects to be used for that purpose. Chronic bullies have been described as the most dangerous. Some chronic bullies think quite highly of themselves – for example, as being superior, powerful and entitled.

Bullies in the middle
Dr. Blando describes several bully types, including the “pressurized” bully, whose aggressive behavior is temporary and due to either internal or external pressures. Another example is the “accidental” bully, who has never learned to interact socially and doesn’t realize how his actions are affecting other people. She notes that not all bullies lack empathy, and some may even experience occasional feelings of shame.

So, it seems that like most workplace research issues, bullying is more complicated than it appears on the surface. Dr. Blando is currently writing a book, So You’re the Target of a Bully at Work, Now What? 10 Steps to Getting Your Life Back.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:45 pm ... 91522.html

BULLY behaviour It comes with a high price, so rein it in
By: Barbara Bowes
25/07/2009 1:00 AM

In today's fast-paced world and challenging economy, corporate and institutional leaders, executive directors of not-for-profit agencies and board members for that matter, must be more alert to the potential organizational culture changes that can occur when everyone is under extreme distress.
For instance, has your employee turnover rate increased? If so, are long-term employees and high performers leaving for other jobs and/or just plain quitting? Are the employees leaving in droves, so to speak?

Is the organization experiencing increased and more serious reports of interpersonal conflicts between employees and/or employees and their boss? At the same time, is there an increase in petty, annoying conflicts such as the failure to clean up after meals in the staff lunchroom or failing to make new coffee once the communal pot is emptied?

If these types of both serious and incidental type of conflicts are more constant, then your organization has probably morphed from a highly productive, harmonistic culture into a conflict-ridden, bullying environment. Why is it occurring, what does that look like and what can be done?

The economic downturn being felt in various industry sectors and that has led to outright employee layoffs has also led to a surge in employee fear and anxiety. These tensions are not just limited to home life because the behaviours and anxieties follow the employees to work. Fearful of losing their jobs, these anxious employees may find themselves with shorter tempers, less patience, and a greater intolerance for errors by others. In other words, these employees have entered into what is called career survival. They become self-protective and are wary of others.

Employees who hold the title of boss aren't immune either. Unfortunately bosses who weren't the prime models of good leadership in the first place, in many cases now begin to exhibit the signs of abusive tormentors. Some may be adopting this behavior inadvertently due to their own personal stress and anxiety as they are asked to do more with less. Still there is always that one manager out there who views this stressful opportunity as being ripe for seizing more personal power.

What does an abusive boss look like and what are they doing? Typically, a bullying boss, either male or female, will target employees and display aggressive temper tantrums; they'll think nothing of swearing or screaming condescending insults at an employee while in a group of colleagues, or they ridicule employees and call them names. Some bully bosses may even be so aggressive as to step forward and break through personal boundaries and engage in physical assault such as pushing and hitting.

There are many bully bosses who are not outwardly aggressive but are bullies just the same. They engage in insidious, quiet and emotionally abusive attacks on their targets. They target a good performer, begin finding fault with everything they do and increasingly report false allegations to more senior authorities. They change the rules from one day to another, putting the employee in a no-win situation. They begin writing up disciplinary notes on anything and everything they can imagine. They make increasingly impossible demands such as requiring employees to work overtime when it wasn't truly necessary. They change work schedules, threaten to reduce worker hours unless they bend to the wishes of the boss, or they send employees on an external errand that is nothing more than a wild goose chase.

Finally, for some reason, these bully bosses have an incredible knack for turning employee against employee and so individuals become isolated without anyone to turn to.

It's no wonder that in just a short time, an organizational culture can change from being high performing to one that is poisoned by abusive behaviour. Employees will be confused and their self-confidence shattered -- after all, they've been excellent employees for many years and all of a sudden, they're not? Employee stress can be so severe that they lose sleep and suffer from depression, while some actually experience post-traumatic stress syndrome. At this point, people will go on sick leave and/or resign. As a result, organizational turnover will climb to new, unhealthy and unwanted heights.

Bully behaviour comes at a high price for any organization. Turnover costs are at minimum three times the base salary of any employee, including front-line workers. Other organizational issues such as absenteeism and stress-related illnesses, workplace accidents and lost productivity lead to increased health-care costs and higher insurance premiums. In some cases, organizations will face litigation costs as former employees demand severance payments. Still others are increasingly reporting abuse and harassment to their local government authorities, which in turn can lead to unwanted public press and financial awards worth thousands of dollars to employees.

If your organization is experiencing a bully boss, you need to deal with it immediately. Retaining an abusive boss who meets the sales and profitability numbers, yet causes turmoil in the organization, will no longer be tolerated by employees, by society or by the legal system for that matter. Failing to rectify the situation will increase bottom-line costs, put you at risk of legal costs and/or intervention by agencies such as the Human Rights Commission or provincial Workplace Health and Safety department. I am sure no one wants to see the investigation and remedy of internal conflicts posted on public government websites.

While there may be plenty of "soft" counselling advice for victims, the problem won't go away unless the organizations take proactive, visible and concrete action. First, ensure there is a policy against bullying and the harassment of your workers and ensure it is widely communicated to all employees.

Include formal complaint and investigation procedures and be sure your human resource managers and health and safety professionals are fully aware of how to handle and investigate complaints. Allow for employees to bring an advocate to any meetings in which their personal situation is discussed. In challenging situations where conflict of interest exists because the complaint is against a boss, then consider hiring an external specialist who can provide an objective, third-party complaint investigation and who can recommend effective solutions.

Bully boss behaviour may be more prevalent today due to constraints in the economy, but that is no excuse. This behaviour is simply unacceptable and must be dealt with immediately. Failing to do so is just too risky. And keep in mind that no organization is immune.

Source: Is the financial Crisis Bringing out the bully in Your boss? Joanne Higgins, BNET, October 2008.

Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group, a leading HR and executive search firm. She is also author of three books and host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show. She can be reached at

Ask Barbara

Got a problem at work with your boss or a fellow employee? Concerned some of your employees aren't pulling their weight? Free Press careers columnist Barbara Bowes is willing to help with some of the more straightforward problems that may arise in the workplace. On the last Saturday of every month, Barbara will answer some of the questions submitted by Free Press readers. E-mail questions to Please provide name, address and phone number for confirmation purposes. Pseudonyms may be used for publication to protect author's identity.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2009 G1
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:49 pm ... vastating#

Workplace Bullying: It's Real and It Can Be Devastating


Published: Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 3, 2009 at 12:34 a.m.

Something happened at Jane Soderstrom's last job.

It changed her. She's sure of that.

She remembers how it felt the last time a co-worker sat in a meeting and openly berated her. In two years, she'd never gotten used to it: the dirty looks, being ignored, hearing her co-workers gossip about her within earshot.

She didn't have a name for her problem until she searched the Web for the words "work" and "bully." Now she realizes it's everywhere.

"It was news to me that it was a 'Something,'?" said Soderstrom, 50.

About 37 percent of the U.S. workforce report being bullied on the job, according to a 2007 survey conducted by Zogby International and Workplace Bullying Institute. Another 12 percent say they've witnessed it.

Now, experts worry the difficult job market is exacerbating the problem, giving managers more license to mistreat and leaving timid employees more tolerant of the abuse.

"Employees are told, 'Sit down, hold on, shut up,' " said Gary Namie, a psychologist and co-founder of Workplace Bullying Institute.

By Namie's description, the workplace bully slings insults to publicly humiliate, seeks to intimidate or threaten in verbal or non-verbal ways, and intentionally interferes in others' work in "a laser-focused systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction."

For the target, the result can be devastating physically, emotionally and professionally. Forty-five percent suffer stress-related health problems, according to the WBI study. Many lose their jobs when they complain, though 40 percent never tell their employer.

Soderstrom, a registered nurse who worked two years at BayCare in a home health care office before going on medical leave March 30, said what she endured at work ended up affecting every part of her life, eventually snuffing out her passion for nursing, not to mention her ability to get out of bed each day.

After she finally went beyond human resources and filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, records show, her bully was demoted.

Now, she wonders whether the job was worth the toll it has taken on her mental health.

She's not alone. Her family wonders the same.

"I never realized that it would bring her to the place that it's brought her," husband Rob Soderstrom said, his voice suddenly cracking before he apologized for his tears.

Taken individually, workplace bullying offenses often amount to peevish complaints.

Eye rolling. Loud sighs. Cliquishness. Intentional exclusion from office-related communication.

Such transgressions sound minor and, at the beginning, may force an employee to wonder whether the offenses are real or imagined, let alone serious enough to warrant a human resources complaint.

So, you work with a jerk, the internal voice says: Get over it!

But when the situation escalates, it can lead to a point of serious personal crisis.

Soderstrom said she gained 90 pounds in two years. She went from someone who loved and took pride in her career, to someone who got nauseous just driving to work, someone whose absenteeism rose to the point of getting a reprimand.

When she recently asked a doctor to submit an application for her short-term disability, his diagnosis sounded fitting for someone who had gone through war: Anxiety disorder, including features of post-traumatic stress disorder. Major depression episode. Somatic symptoms. Insomnia. Headaches, shakes, tremors, dizziness.

"I am a walking ghost of who I was," she said.

Despite the toll, legal options are limited. Nothing about workplace bullying rises to the level of illegality, unless the victim can prove he or she was targeted for a reason protected under law: race, gender, religion, disability or whistle-blowing.

Since 2003, 16 states have introduced legislation addressing anti-bullying concerns, though none successfully. Florida isn't one.

Cynthia Sass, a labor and employment attorney in Tampa, said her firm frequently hears bullying complaints. Her advice: Look for another job.

It's a hard situation for an employee to be in, Sass said. "Because if it's not illegal and they complain, they're probably going to be out the door."

Soderstrom hasn't worked for BayCare since March. She has been on unpaid family medical leave, and most recently, unpaid personal leave.

BayCare wouldn't comment specifically on Soderstrom's situation, but spokeswoman Stephanie Sampiere sent the following statement: "We take these types of allegations seriously. We have policies in place to address any concerns voiced by team members, and we thoroughly, immediately and confidentially investigate all allegations without retaliation of a report made in 'good faith.'"

Curious about the impact of the economy on instances of workplace bullying, the WBI recently conducted an unscientific survey on its Web site.

Out of 454 respondents, 99 percent of whom said they'd been bullied or witnessed it, 27.5 percent said the bullying had gotten worse since September 2008, the point at which there was widespread recognition of a global economic crisis. The uptick didn't surprise Sass.

"I think people are probably putting up with more than they would," she said, "and they're not complaining because they're scared they're going to be retaliated against."
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:37 pm ... d=8872662#

Why Is Your Boss a Bully?
Maybe He or She is Incompetent -- and Knows It. 37 Percent Say They've Been Bullied at Work

Oct. 21, 2009

Is your boss acting like a bully these days? Maybe it's because the boss is well aware of his or her own incompetence.
New research shows that personal power, coupled with a feeling of inadequacy, is a potent force that can make a boss pick on those with less power. The problem, according to research based on interviews with more than 400 persons, is that deep down inside, the lout knows he or she is a loser.

"It's the combination of having a high-power role and fearing that one is not up to the task that causes power holders to lash out," Serena Chen, associate professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and co-author of the study, said in releasing the report. "Our data suggests it's ultimately about self worth."

The study, published in the November issue of Psychological Science, is the latest in a series of studies showing that all is not well in the workplace. Many workers feel they have been abused by a boss who either yelled at them, gave them the silent treatment, or berated them in front of others, according to research at Florida State University in Tallahassee. It's enough to make a worker want to walk, but that is not often possible, especially when jobs are scarce.

The latest study, conducted by Chen and Nathanael Fast, contends that it is a feeling of inadequacy that turns a boss into a bully, although other research suggests just the opposite. Some bosses are bullies because they have an inflated image of themselves, according to some studies, including one from Ohio State University in Columbus that indicates that power really does corrupt, giving the boss so much confidence that he or she is inclined to ignore the advice and needs of subordinates.

37 Percent of Workers Report Bullying

So when it comes down to psychoanalyzing the person who controls much of your life, one size does not fit all. The boss may be a tyrant just because the boss is always right, or perhaps because the boss isn't so sure.

Whatever the cause, it's a serious problem for millions of workers, according to the Florida State research, which found employees in an abusive relationship suffered from exhaustion, tension, nervousness, and depression.

One study indicated that roughly 54 million American workers -- 37 percent -- have been bullied at work, though that doesn't mean everyone is getting the shaft. The study also points out that most workers -- about 63 percent of the workforce -- have not been bullied at work. But why does it have to happen at all?

Do Aggressive Bosses Feel Inadequate?
Chen and Fast conducted four separate studies that, in their words, "demonstrated that individuals with power become aggressive when they feel incompetent." Two of the studies involved the actual workplace of participants, and two involved college students engaged in role playing, a common research tool used by psychologists. All the findings are based chiefly on how the participants view themselves.

One of the studies involved 90 adults employed in various professions. The researchers found that aggression was highest among participants with "high self-perceived incompetence."

What's really at stake here, the researchers contend, is the boss's ego. If the boss feels inadequate, he or she is more likely to fear the loss of ego. And one quick way to boost an ego is to threaten a subordinate, thus reaffirming the boss's supremacy.

In a role playing experiment, participants who thought their ego was threatened were willing to "needlessly sabotage an underling's chances of winning money."

All four studies, Chen and Fast conclude, show that the more incompetent a person feels, the more likely he or she will abuse someone in a lesser role.

So how do you deal with that?

One way, the researchers said, is to use flattery, but with caution.

Flattery Will Get You Somewhere
"Using flattery and affirming the boss's strengths is certainly a strategy that subordinates can and do use to alleviate bullying," said Fast, who is now at the University of Southern California, in an e-mail. "This is especially true in cases where resigning is not an option. The unfortunate caveat is that, although flattery boosts the boss's ego, it can also cause the boss to further lose touch with reality which may ultimately worsen the situation."

It might also help to "alleviate the ways in which one might be inadvertently threatening the boss," Fast added. "Demonstrating respect, if not admiration, by offering a few affirming comments each week will go a long way to ease existing tensions."

He also warned against being a lone complainer, because the more you complain, the more likely people will perceive you as the problem, not the boss.

"The most important step may be to reach out to others," he added. "Seek emotional support from friends and family as well as co-workers who are in the same situation."

Of course, there's always the chance that the problem will take care of itself. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that while being the boss has its perks, it also has its hazards. In a survey involving 1,800 American workers, the researchers found that bosses had "significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others," and were more likely to take their problems home with them, adding stress to their families.

All that, the Toronto researchers concluded, can lead to depression and poor health, and perhaps early retirement. That's probably especially true if the boss knew all along that he or she was a loser.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:56 pm ... ryId=37126

4 signs you're working for a bully
You could damage your career by working for a boss who pushes you around.

Oct 22, 2009

Work can be miserable if you don’t get along with your co-workers. But run-ins with your boss can be even worse, according to Sandy Hershcovis, a researcher at the University of Manitoba. Hershcovis reviewed 110 studies on workplace aggression and found that bullying bosses can harm employees’ job satisfaction, increase stress, and cause turnover.
Here are four signs you’re working for a bully, according to Robert Sutton, author of “The No-A**hole Rule”:

1. Your boss screams at you. Rage-aholics tend to lose their tempers, yell at employees, and hurl insults.

2. Your boss gives you the evil eye. The Glarer stares at employees and makes no attempt to hide contempt.

3. Your boss says, “Just kidding,” a lot. Jokesters tease employees in a mean-spirited manner, then claim it’s just for laughs.

4. Your boss talks behind your back. The Sabotager is nice to your face but undermines you as soon as you leave the room.

To avoid working for a bully, look for signs during your job interview, Sutton says. Watch for how the manager interacts and talks with employees.

If you’re already working for a bully, check out these tips and communication strategies: ... ail/635784

How I tackled a fierce conversation with my boss
I had to get real with the practice owner to save to save our working relationshipand change the negative atmosphere lingering in the practice.

Oct 12, 2009
By: Rachael Hume

Normally, I’m the sounding board when things go awry at our clinic. And generally, I don’t mind listening. So imagine my surprise and surprise when, at my annual review, the owner placed the responsibility for the bad feelings lingering in the practice on my shoulders. In one year, I went from Most Valuable Employee to Miss Grumpy Pants.

As a woman, I try to be tough, but by the end of the review, I was almost in tears. I shuffled the responsibility and blamed an estrogen-filled work environment. I generalized that we all have bad days and agreed one person could affect a whole crew.

But my mind was consumed with how often the owner had come to work in a storm cloud and put everyone on edge. As a result, no one wanted to work with him. I could tell he was flaming mad when team members scurried up front to help me all morning. Of course, working alone in the back didn’t encourage a better mood.

But by mid-afternoon, after a pot of coffee, food, and completed surgeries, he usually morphed into a jovial person, throwing our team for a loop. We would whisper to each other, “How is he now?”

After the burden of the last year, including working with a new associate who was becoming difficult, I finally reached my breaking point. I accepted another job for less pay to escape the ongoing moodiness that wouldn’t leave our clinic.

When I called the owner to give my notice, he didn't handle the conversation well. He spent more than an hour trying to convince me to stay, and he promised he'd change. I cried. I told him I didn’t want to leave but felt I had no choice. Then he became frustrated because he couldn’t convince me to stay.

In a fit of irritation, I asked him who was going to confront him when he had a bad day. I told him no one wanted to work with him, and I dealt daily with the rifts this caused in our practice.

At first, my boss was speechless. Then he sputtered and blustered, and I could picture his face turning red. He tried to say that never happened. I rattled off a few examples, and he admitted he occasionally came to work in a bad mood. But, he said, it was events at work that caused the sour mood.

So what do you do? You finally confront your boss about his attitude and he unwillingly admits you’re right, so you’re compelled to meet halfway. But even saying as much as I did sure opened his eyes. I don’t think he ever imagined anyone would confront him. And he certainly never thought he did anything wrong. There’s some unwritten rule that your boss is always right, right? Well, the rules have changed.

As it all turned out, I stayed at the practice. The atmosphere improved, and the owner demonstrated a new respect for me because I stood up to him. And I had new respect for him, because he admitted I was right. It takes a lot to confront someone, but even more when it’s your boss. Heck—it only took me nine years.

No one likes to rock the boat, but it beats treading water for months or years. And since our heart-to-heart, it’s much easier to discuss problems at the clinic. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. ... ?id=612166
6 ways to break through to your boss
Jul 1, 2009

If speaking to your manager is like talking to a brick wall, reconsider your approach. Build a strong foundation for communication—and avoid dead-end conversations—using these six tips.

Zero in
Pick a time and place that will minimize distractions. Then tackle one topic at a time.

Create interest
Give your manager a reason to listen. Explain how your talking points affect her and the practice.

Create interest
Give your manager a reason to listen. Explain how your talking points affect her and the practice.

Stay positive
Huffing and puffing will get you no where. Keep calm, smile, and remember, you catch more flies with honey.

Use all options
Ask your boss how she prefers to communicate. Maybe she's a visual learner and favors e-mail. Then adopt her ideal mode.

Don't give up
You may need to schedule several meetings before your boss truly hears you. Stay strong and you'll bust her sound barrier. ... ail/571498

When to approach the boss about team conflict
When should I go to my boss about a problem I'm having with a co-worker?

Dec 1, 2008
By: Cindy Adams, MSW, PhD

You should first approach the co-worker you're having trouble with, says Cindy Adams, MSW, PhD, a veterinary communication professor at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Depending on the situation, you may not need to involve your boss. This is especially helpful when the issue is of a personal nature, like poor hygiene or attitude, she says.

Respect your team member's feelings and privacy by discussing your concern with him or her alone. Chances are, your co-worker may not even know a problem exists. A five-minute conversation—if done diplomatically—could resolve the conflict. Pulling the employee aside for a private talk also saves him or her fromthe added embarrassment of involving others.

Of course, there are more complicated situations. The person may resist talking about the matter, whether personal or work-related. He or she may deny the problem and blow you off entirely. If either of these is the case, then it's time to enlist support from your boss. But let your co-worker know that you're taking the issue to your manager or the owner, so it's not a surprise, Adams says. And let your boss know that you've already approached the co-worker and he or she wasn't receptive.

If your fellow team member is open to sorting things out, but the two of you just can't see eye to eye, Adams says this is another scenario that warrants seeking help from an outside party. But don't do so alone—ask for your co-worker's opinion. You should mutually decide on who you'll turn to for guidance, she says, because it's a baby step toward joint problem solving. ... ail/559202
Taming beastly bosses
Sometimes managers behave a bit like wild animals. But hiding behind that ferocious lion's roar might be a boss who's really just a timid kitten struggling to survive the workaday jungle. Here's how to coax out your boss's softer side.

Oct 1, 2008
By: Katherine Bontrager

Let's be honest: It's rare to find an employee who hasn't indulged in a good old gripe fest with co-workers. There's something comforting in knowing that the boss's incessant tardiness or horrible attitude is bothering other people, too. But these complaint sessions don't really solve anything. That's especially true if you're a team member with a boss who roars like a lion, steamrolls like an elephant, or slithers like a snake. Rather than bemoaning your bad-boss fate, try to ditch the idea that your boss is beastly. Begin taming your opinion by thinking about what might be causing your boss's not-so-great behavior.

Consider the source

Odds are, you share boss-related annoyances with other team members—even those who work at practices of different shapes and sizes (see "10 Common Bad Boss Behaviors"). While this may sound surprising, it's not when you consider the legitimate reasons behind most veterinary practice owners' actions. Their bad behavior is usually because they're:

Managers by default. "Most veterinarians are bosses because they have the letters after their name and own the practice," says Dr. Craig Woloshyn, owner of Sun Dog Veterinary Consulting in Custer, S.D. "Nowhere in their schooling or work experience, if they have any, have they been prepared for supervising employees, stimulating them, enriching their workplace, helping them apply their skills to make the practice thrive, or forming a team out of disparate personalities. Simply, they never learned how to be a boss, and now they are one."
Pummeled by details. Managers often deal with every aspect of the practice, from medical care to team communication. So when they don't focus on what you might wish they did, it's probably because they're handling something else, says Pam Weakley, Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and practice manager at Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic in Battle Creek, Mich. "It might be that they're worried about a patient in the ICU or an extra-large electric bill," she says.

And don't forget that for every time you take a problem to your boss, there's a different team member highlighting yet another issue. "Sometimes veterinarians are thinking about all the things on their plate at once and trying to please everyone," Weakley says. "And they're still handling all the medical cases, too."

Ruined by misunderstanding. Your idea of inappropriate behavior might not be the same as your manager's—or even your fellow team members' for that matter. So what looks like a problem to you, might seem perfectly normal to your boss, says Sheila Grosdidier, BS, RVT, Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a partner at VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo. "In these cases, it's all about perception," she says.

Adopt a different view

A couple notes about great managers

As with most things, perception has a lot to do with how you react to your boss's behavior—and perception is a potent remedy. With a little bit of insight, some of your complaints could be erased.

"I once worked with a clinic where the boss would yell, and the team members would yell back," Grosdidier says. "It was very upsetting to some new employees. But it turned out that after so many years of dogs barking and machines whirring, the doctor was hearing impaired. He had to talk loud, and everyone just got comfortable with that. Some of the team members got small earplugs to dim the noise a few decibels."

So when you're feeling cranky about your boss, stop and think about what might be going on with her. Then try to put yourself in her position, Weakley says. "If you've never owned your own business, it's hard to know what it takes to keep a business not only open, but profitable," she says.

Seeing your boss in a different light may be the solution you need, Grosdidier says. "Bosses' actions aren't about you," she says, "they're about them. You aren't going to change the fact that your boss comes in late, so try to let that go." You might be surprised how much better you feel when you just allow some behaviors to slide off your back.

Stepping up and speaking out

What happens if you've tried to view things from your boss's perspective and let go of your snarky feelings, but you still don't think the behavior is acceptable? It might be time to log a complaint.

Grosdidier says that poor conduct, especially from a manager, can be so destructive that it creates a practice-wide whirlpool. "Team members usually become irritable when the partners are fighting or the doctors are asking them to do things they feel uncomfortable with," she says. "In these circumstances, you must determine your individual comfort with the situation that's at hand. If you're being asked to lie to people and you know you can't, you must talk to your boss."

Think carefully about how—and when—it's best to approach your boss about the problem. "Vomit all your thoughts onto a piece of paper, and look for common threads," Grosdidier says. This will help you clearly outline the issues that really matter. Then you must do three things.

1. Make the level of importance clear. Be up-front with your boss. Say something like, "This conversation is very important to me. I love what I do here and I love what we do for pets, but this is bothering me."

2. Use the word I. Frame the issue around yourself instead of around your boss by saying, "I feel this way," or "When this happens, I feel like this," Grosdidier says. For instance, rather than saying, "When you talk loudly, we can't work," try making this statement: "I feel like team members get flustered when people talk loudly, and our work suffers." This helps keep the manager from feeling accused and will hopefully prevent a defensive response.

3. Contain the situation. Boil the problem down to a manageable size by providing your boss with a clear idea of how you'd like it resolved. You could say, "I would feel better if I was not included in these conversations in the future," or "I don't want to be put in situations where I have to lie to people."

After a talk like this, there are two potential outcomes: Things get better, or they don't. If you end up in the camp of team members whose situations don't improve, Dr. Woloshyn says it's probably time to look for a new practice (see "Signs It's Time to Cut and Run" at right). "If your practice is a place where you don't want to come in the door in the morning and the boss won't address issues, that's reason enough to head on down the road," he says.

Most likely, your result will be more positive. Grosdidier says a tough conversation with the boss might just be what he or she needs to get back on track. "We get in an everyday rut," she says, "and sometimes we don't realize how far off the path we are until someone pulls us back on and tells us the direction we need to go."

Case in point: Grosdidier once worked with a team member who was struggling because her boss couldn't seem to do anything in a timely manner. "The team member finally broke down and said to her boss, 'I don't know who you are anymore, and we've worked together for 20 years.' In this situation, the owner was suffering from depression and needed medication," Grosdidier says. "The push by the team member was what the doctor needed. It was the wake-up call that turned everything around." Your circumstances might not be this extreme, but still, a serious, thoughtful conversation will likely improve the situation between you and your boss.

Beastly bosses can make for a wild time at work. But their behavior might not be nearly as fierce as it seems if you can just look past the claws and fangs. With a change in perspective or a well-planned conversation, you may be the "boss whisperer" who transforms this (seemingly) savage creature into a docile manager. And that will create an environment that's better for all involved.

Katherine Bontrager is a freelance writer living in Leawood, Kan. ... 269?ref=25

My boss is a meanie!
Jun 1, 2006

I work for a veterinarian who's nice to clients—but she yells and criticizes her team in public. She doesn't even say hello or goodbye to us half of the time. What can we do?
—Feeling Put Down

Dear Put Down,

The bad news: Cupid doesn't carry "nice" darts. So you're going to have to put in a little elbow grease to smooth out these rough waters.

First, ask yourself this question: Are you nice to your boss? Do you say hello when you pass her in the hall, or do you dart into doorways and duck out without a good night? Often, the best way to change another person's behavior is to change your own first. Perhaps your doctor isn't feeling the love. In other words, if you think she's rude or disrespectful, she might be thinking the same thing about you.

Next, plan a heart-to-heart with your boss. Talk one-on-one, and keep it private. Here's the tough part: You've got to offer specific examples of the behavior that's bothering you. That means you're forbidden from starting any sentence with the words "always" or "never." And you've got to be nice. Seriously. Your boss has feelings, too, and if you're confrontational she'll just tune you out. You might say, "It really embarrassed me yesterday when you criticized me in front of a client. I appreciate your feedback on how to improve, but I feel more comfortable talking about it in private."

I know it's tough. The truth is, changing behavior is hard. So the whole team needs to be on board. If you approach this with a positive, friendly attitude, your boss just might surprise you.
—Amy ... ail/197178

Curb your boss's anger
Dec 1, 2005
By: W. Bradford Swift, DVM

Q. The veterinarian I work for has anger-control problems. He can be verbally abusive to staff members and sometimes clients. What can I do?

Dr. W. Bradford Swift

If this is affecting client and staff retention, you need to find a way to show the veterinarian the true costs of his behavior, says W. Bradford Swift, DVM, business coach and founder of the Life on Purpose Institute in Flat Rock, N.C. Until the doctor recognizes that there's a problem and what that problem costs him and the practice, there's little anyone can do to remedy the situation, Dr. Swift says.

"Your best bet is a team intervention—but make sure the veterinarian doesn't think you're ganging up on him," Dr. Swift says. Here's the catch-22: With anger-control problems, pointing out the problem can lead to an angry outburst, which is what often keeps people from solving the issue.

"Communicate caring and concern when you approach the doctor," Dr. Swift says. "He won't hear your point if he doesn't feel safe and respected during the discussion." If you're successful at getting the doctor to recognize the problem, he can get professional assistance to correct or manage his anger. ... ?id=402236

How to beat a bully
You're no punching bag, so don't let anyone treat you like one. Use these bully-busting strategies to reclaim your practice.

Jan 1, 2007
By: Michelle O'Neal

It might start with a snicker every time you walk past the reception desk. Or maybe it's that snippy comment you've learned to dread every day: "Something smells," she says, wrinkling her nose as you enter the room. These small offenses may look trivial alone, but they accumulate over time to eat away at your confidence, sap team morale, and turn the job you love into a daily nightmare.

If you've ever been bullied, you know how much it hurts. And you're not alone. Studies conducted in 2005 by researchers at the Uni versity of New Mexico and at Arizona State Uni versity show that 25 percent to 30 percent of U.S. employees are bullied and emotionally abused sometime in their work histories.

It's not always easy to spot a bully. Some silently sabotage from the shadows and feign innocence when cornered, while others call the shots with show-stopping swagger. As a victim, you may be overloaded with tasks or cruelly stripped of gratifying ones. Once-friendly team members may avoid you, fearing the bully's wrath if they align themselves with you.

If this sounds like grade-school drama, you're not too far off. Playground tyrants grow up, but they don't often outgrow their tactic of intimidation. The irony is that beneath the bully's sinister exterior lies deep-seated insecurity, and often times, inadequacy. As Tim Field, author of Bully In Sight: How to Predict, Resist, Challenge, and Combat Workplace Bullying (Success Un limited, 1996), says, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, bully." Let's take a look at five common bully breeds and how to best manage their assaults.

The passive-aggressive sneak

The profile: Angela, the receptionist, appears angelic at first blush. Over time, however, you realize her seraphic sweetness is reserved for veterinarians and clients. Fearful of confrontation, she often uses sly comments or notes to boost her influence and make others look bad. You might hear her tell the doctor, "I can't trust anyone else with the schedule. We always end up overbooked when Ginger sets the appointments."

Dr. X makes you want to hide

Coping strategies: This bully's choir-girl image makes her misdeeds difficult to expose. So when you catch her in the act, address the behavior directly. "Call her out on it without using threats," says Debbie Allaben Gair, CVPM, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a communication consultant with Bridging the Gap in Sparta, Mich. "Be kind, firm, and frank. Look her in the eye and say, 'I heard what you just said to Dr. Smith. That's untrue and I don't appreciate it.'" Since passive-aggressive bullies fear confrontation, calmly acknowledging her behavior will send the message that you're not to be messed with.

The manipulator

The profile: It's Mary Manipulation's turn to mop. She slyly assures you she'll tackle the task. But when the clock strikes the hour, she's poised at the door, hat in hand, ready to bolt for the parking lot. With a sheepish smirk, she says, "Sorry, I got tied up. You'll help me out, won't you?" Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but it's the fifth time she's weaseled out of the work this month.

Coping strategies: The manipulator wields her charm with chilling ease. But defeating her is relatively easy: When she pleads for help, simply say, "No, not this time." Don't get emotional or show irritation, Gair says. Even better, lay down the law in advance. If you see a pattern forming, start the next shift by saying, "I won't stay late tonight." Without being nasty, simply define your limits, which don't include bailing her out of trouble day after day.

The attention-starved diva

The profile: In life's daily drama Donna Diva's always center stage. And since you were promoted to practice manager, she has unleashed a full arsenal of backstabbing behavior with two goals: to tarnish your pearly reputation and reclaim the limelight. She spreads rumors about you among the new technicians and calls you out in front of clients.

Coping strategies: First, talk to Donna in private, Gair says. Remind her that the practice needs her allegiance. Even if she's unhappy with the new hierarchy, ask her to neutralize her anger for the good of the practice. Make it a choice: She can choose to support the team or she can choose to leave. If the gossip remains out of control, address the gossiper and the listener, Gair says. Offer progressive discipline if necessary.

The serial bully

The profile: Catty Keith views bullying as a competitive sport, and his goal is to run up the score at others' expense. He needles the weakest or newest team member until she crumples and quits or mounts a defense, which either wins his respect or renders the game tiresome.

Coping strategies: This bully often evades reprimands by appearing irreplaceable because he's "worked at the practice forever" or he's "the most technically skilled technician we've ever had."

When you deal with Keith, consider appreciating his strengths. Say, "You're amazing, Keith! You can restrain even the meanest pets. Will you give me some pointers?"

If he's nitpicking your every move, say, "I'd love to live up to your standards, Keith, but I can't get a thing done with you breathing down my neck." Most serial bullies will admire your gumption and back off. If he won't lay off, speak with your manager. The boss can remind Keith that he was once a new person, too, and that his imposing demeanor is scaring off good employees, Gair says.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The profile: Radical Ruth's moods shift faster than the weather. You never know which Ruth will clock in: your charming, sunny ally or a vicious, irrational tornado of gloom. Seeing her name next to yours on the schedule is enough to send you diving for an umbrella.

Coping strategies: Because you might be only one privy to this bully's transgression du jour, your cry for help may be met with disbelief. "Ruth? Surely not! She's such a sweetheart."

Here's another twist: Ruth may look up to you and desperately want to be your friend. Fearing rejection, she lashes out even as she tries to get closer to you. The key to managing this bully is not to overreact in tense situations, Gair says. Address her behavior with statements like, "It hurts when you say things like that." Or give her a sense of control by saying, "How do you want me to handle this?" 4

The core coping tactics

If you can't put your finger on which type of bully you're dealing with—or if she's a combination of a few profiles—review this list of all-purpose strategies from Dr. Kramer.

Understand the differences between the bullies of your childhood and those in the workplace. For example, schoolyard tyrants typically prey on the weak, but workplace bullies often go after high achievers. Asserting yourself on the playground may have worked, but doing so with a serial bully may backfire and she may retaliate by turning up the heat.
Don't isolate yourself. Keep communication lines open and join your co-workers for lunch occasionally, even if you'd prefer to eat alone. Staying connected helps give you a network of support when you need it.
Don't offer personal information to a bully. Guard yourself by keeping discussions focused on practice matters.
Document your achievements. If the bully questions your performance, you'll have a formal record to back you up.
Track the bully's shortcomings. Remember, bullies often project their inadequacies onto others. So while it may seem sneaky, a record of her mistakes may help protect you if the bully tries to shift the blame your way.
Use compelling evidence to support your claim. When you report a bully's behavior to your manager, explain what a bully can cost in terms of lost productivity and staff turnover. Assoc iating numbers with your complaint may move it from tattling to a legitimate financial issue.

Nurture a culture of fairness. Simply discussing what's fair and what's not makes team members feel better. For example, at a staff meeting you may discuss how fairness creates a friendly at mosphere. It's simple to do: Just decide which actions are most fair and behave accordingly.

Create workplace decorum guidelines. The benefits: You'll develop a permanent record of the practice's policies, and the process empowers everyone to share their thoughts.

To keep bullying at bay in the long haul, remember that there are no silly problems, says Dennis Cloud, DVM, a Firstline board member and owner of several practices in the St. Louis area. "Even if the matter seems benign, managers and owners prefer to address sensitive issues before they become intolerable," he says.

Though it's not intentional bullying, also be aware that tight-knit teams can intimidate new employees, Dr. Cloud says. So before the new team member feels isolated or picked on, remind her that it's a great crew to work with once she endures an inevitable testing period.

Finally, before you wage war with a bully, consider this important warning: "If you suspect the bully suffers from a mental health disorder, don't tackle the problem yourself," Dr. Kramer says. "You don't want to put yourself in danger by becoming a junior psychologist, social worker, or punching bag. Instead, refer the problem to a supervisor or a professional who can shed light on the problem without putting you in danger."

This advice is critical if you're experiencing incidents of abuse that may include a physical component. These cases constitute harassment, Dr. Kramer says, so remove yourself from the dangerous situation and seek help immediately.

You deserve a safe workplace where team members encourage each other to learn and grow. You're all there for the same reason: to help pets. So if a bully's throwing his or her weight around, it's time to take your practice back.

Michelle O'Neal is a freelance writer in Shawnee, Kan.Please send questions to
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:00 pm ... 5790355494

Bullies in the office
By Lollie Barr From: The Sunday Telegraph Sun Oct 25 EST 2009

New research shows that bullying in the workplace is rife, and can cost businesses up to $13 billion a year. So what can you do about it?

Workplace bullying can have catastrophic consequences. Christine Hodder lodged two formal complaints, about bullying, harassment and victimisation by officers at Cowra Ambulance Station, where she was the first female staff member in 1999.

The first complaint was in 2001 and the second was a few months before she committed suicide in April 2005, at the age of 38.

"In the past six years I have been badly treated as other staff members collectively bullied, belittled and intimidated me," she said in the complaint.

"The staff in this station has constantly alienated and attacked my character and physical appearance since my arrival."

A subsequent NSW State Parliament inquiry into the Ambulance Service found that bullying and harassment existed within the service. Hodder's husband, Jason, said at the time, "People need to be supported. You can't just say, 'Put up or shut up'."

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Bullying "rife"
It appears that bullying behaviour is rife in Australian workplaces. A survey of 800 employees by Drake International found that half of the respondents had witnessed bullying and 25 per cent had been bullied.

Frightening statistics indeed, but there is a difference between bullying behaviour and harassment, says Dr Annie Wyatt, a senior lecturer and occupational health and safety consultant at the University of New South Wales.

"Harassment can be a single instance of offensive behaviour which usually involves race, age, sex or other criteria that come under anti-discrimination legislation," she says.

"Bullying is a pattern of unreasonable behaviour and is defined as a workplace hazard. Often, there is no proof and no witnesses, and even if work colleagues know what is going on, they tend not to speak up."

Workplace bullying can cause several problems, including anxiety disorders, stress, depression and insomnia.

"Workplace bullying involves the repetitive, prolonged abuse of power," says Evelyn Field, a clinical psychologist and author of Bully Blocking (Finch). "That is, unreasonable, escalating behaviours aggressively directed at one or more workers and causing humiliation, offence, intimidation and distress."

Just like the schoolyard bully, the most obvious and easiest-to-detect bullying behaviour involves swearing, taunting, put-downs and even physical abuse, but more common is an insidious form of subtle intimidation: silences when the target of the bully walks into the room, bitchy comments in front of other colleagues, the spreading of malicious gossip to co-workers, not being invited to crucial meetings, rolling of eyeballs when the target speaks, being stripped of critical duties and constantly set up to fail, and being excluded from social events.

Everyone is at risk
According to Field, workplace bullying can affect anyone, in any career, at any level, within any organisation, at any time. "Workplace bullying cuts across all professions, can be perpetrated by both genders and happens between management, employees and co-workers. There are also cases of bullying going upwards - employees bullying their managers."

Research indicates that while it is usually men who do the bullying, as they are more often in management positions, there is evidence that women use bullying behaviours too. "While male bullies harass men and women, women appear to prefer to choose other women as targets," says Field.

There are two main types of bullies: those with an anti-social personality disorder, and sociopaths, who take pleasure in hurting people. The rest are normal people, who would generally be horrified when it is pointed out that they are exhibiting bullying-type behaviours.

"Most bullies are not aware that what they are doing is classified as bullying. They'll justify it by [saying] they are just getting the job done, that their colleague has brought it on themselves or it is simply a personality clash," says Dr Wyatt.

Green-eyed monster
Dr Wyatt says there are various reasons that bullying takes place. "In difficult financial times, there is competition for resources, so people undermine others to shore up their own position."

Another theme evident in the research into workplace bullying is envy. Mostly, the targets of bullying behaviour are "successful, high-performing employees. The perpetrator envies them and seeks to undo them," says Dr Wyatt.

This is what happened to Lynne Lomax* from Geelong, Victoria, who had started a listings magazine that was bought out by another company. "I had always been a high achiever and was confident in my ability," she says.

"However, my boss was verbally abusive and the intensity of the attacks were difficult to cope with. The more he harassed me, the more I was determined to make him see what an asset I was. I got to the point where I was working 80 hours a week, but was still being told I was useless. I had to email him when I wanted to leave my desk to go to the toilet. The bullying had a devastating effect on me; I had a breakdown and suffered post-traumatic stress. When WorkSafe were investigating the complaint, I found that many other people had been bullied by him over the years."

"The targets of bullying are often caught by surprise," adds Field. "Over a period of time, self-doubt creeps in and they lose their confidence. It's like a brainwashing; they can start to believe that they're underperforming."

Taking responsibility
In today's corporate culture, an organisation may condone bullying as part of a tough management style, but it has serious economic consequences.
According to the Workplace Bullying Project Team at Griffith University, the financial cost of bullying to business is between $6 and $13 billion per year and can include decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, staff turnover and poor morale.

"When bullying is entrenched in the culture of an organisation it is often thought of as a rite of passage, as it is the way that the perpetrator has learned to manage," says Field.

But there is a clear difference between a tough boss and a bully. "A tough boss can still be fair as long as they are treating everyone equally," says Field. "Whereas bullying behaviour targets an individual as the odd one out, and a bully will mete out different treatment to the target."

There is a line between bullying behaviour and managers making unpopular decisions. "Justifying decisions that people may not like is entirely different [to bullying]," says Dr Wyatt.

The wider issue, she says, is the lack of people-management skills in the workplace. "Many people are promoted because they are good at their jobs, but they may not have the interpersonal management, listening and communication skills needed to manage their teams. Hence, they may manage in a fear-creating manner which leads to greater problems."

When employees are valued and are working together, their organisation thrives. However, this fact can be lost on someone who aims to increase their own personal power through intimidation.

So what is the best practice when a workplace bullying complaint is lodged? Field says it's important to validate the target's perception of the situation. "By taking their complaint seriously, the situation can be resolved. A denial makes it worse."

"Employers need to realise this issue is important," adds Dr Wyatt. "There need to be enforced policies, procedures and training for all staff about what constitutes acceptable behaviour. There is training available and organisations have a duty to take it up."
" Name changed.

What to do if you are being bullied
Dr Wyatt says if you suspect that you are being targeted in the workplace, arm yourself with as much information as possible. Visit http://www.beyondbullying.
1 Document all alleged bullying behaviour.
2 Determine whether you can deal with the situation yourself by informing the person who is bullying you that it is unacceptable. It may be valuable to have a witness present.
3 Find out who in your organisation is the most appropriate person to discuss your concerns with.
4 Engage in a discussion with your employer. This can be difficult, but it is the action most likely to stop the bullying.
5 If you feel you need to see a psychologist, your GP can organise a referral.
6 Talk to your occupational health authority, union or
a lawyer.

For more information on bullying, visit
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby publicadjuster » Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:32 pm

When I was in 5th grade a bully that sat next to me would hit me and I was cared of him. One day I just got fed up and it was to his detriment that I was both very terrified and pissed off. As a result of being pissed off I wanted to beat his azz and as a result of being scared I would NOT QUIT BEATING HIS AZZ. It took 3 teachers to pull me off that azzhole. Of course he never again bullied me and he got a well deserved azz kicking. I hate bullies and I do not tolerate them.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:15 pm ... rture-work

Workplace Bullying: Applying Psychological Torture at Work
Have you been the victim of a workplace bully?
Published on February 2, 2010

What happens when a schoolyard bully grows up and enters the workforce? Or worse, what if that bully becomes your boss? The result can be outright aggressive behavior or a subtle psychological torture that can make the workplace a living hell.

Someone close to me is experiencing a horrible case of psychological bullying at work. In her case, the main bully is a supervisor, but the supervisor has created an "inner circle" that helps in applying the bullying tactics. Her story caused me to look back on other cases of bullying at work that I have encountered. Unfortunately, there have been far too many.

Workplace bullying is more common than you might expect. A 2007 Zogby survey found that 37% of workers - representing 54 million people -- reported that they had been bullied at work. Some researchers have reported that workplace bullying is a greater problem than sexual harassment.

What are the effects of bullying? Targeted employees can experience fear and anxiety, depression, and can develop a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder - leading to psychological harm and actual physical illness. This leads to absenteeism and turnover as bullied employees avoid or flee the torturous workplace.

What are some of the tactics bullies use in the workplace?

Threats. Most commonly, bullies threaten the employment or career status of the employee. Threats of being fired, or in my friend's case, a threat of "I will dock your pay!" can be particularly troubling (even though my friend is a union employee so her pay cannot actually be affected).

The Silent Treatment. Often a bully and his or her "inner circle" will ostracize victims to the extent of completely ignoring them - refusing to even acknowledge their presence. In other instances, the bullies will stop talking when the victim enters the room, but perhaps continue talking in hushed tones with furtive looks at the victim, giggling and/or making disapproving grunts. You know, the same kind of tactics used in the schoolyard.

Rumors and Gossip. Bullies love to spread lies and rumors about their victims, and these can sometimes be quite vicious. Although untrue, rumors and gossip can filter throughout the organization and actually tarnish an individual's reputation. I've known many insidious cases where a bullied victim sought to fight back, and the bullies spread rumors that the victim was merely a "complainer" and a "problem employee."

Sabotage. Bullies may go so far as sabotaging the victim's work. This can be outright (e.g., destroying or stealing a work product, or more subtle (e.g., altering someone's powerpoint presentation or omitting a page from a report).

What can you do if you are a victim of bullies? There is a very useful website, that discusses the causes and consequences of bullying and suggests how to fight back.

Let's hear some of your stories of workplace bullies and how you fought back!


Submitted by Guderian on February 2, 2010 - 8:25am.
Bullies are usually social psychopaths. I reccomend books by Robert D Hare or Martha Stout.

reply Thanks for the book references, but...
Submitted by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. on February 2, 2010 - 8:35am.
Thank you for the book references. No doubt, some bullies are "social psychopaths," but that wouldn't explain all of the millions of bullies out there in the workplace. Some are likely in the range of "normal" individuals, but they have simply gotten ahead through intimidation and bullying and they persist in that behavior pattern because it appears to be successful.

I'm sure that others contribute to the bullying behavior out of a sense of peer pressure -- going along and supporting the bully. Several of the victims I have talked to mention that the primary bully gets the support of in-group members, some of whom do not appear to be acting independently. Rather, they contribute to the bullying in order to please the bully-boss.

reply Workplace Bullying
Submitted by GLS334 on February 2, 2010 - 8:42am.
This happened to my wife a couple years ago. The repercussions do not fade away. The results on the target are very much like an injury.

It happened after more than two decades in a Fortune (top) 10 company, with a successful upward progression from entry level to and through management for consistent valuable contributions. She is a strong person - Vietnam Era veteran (non-traditional military role), former farm girl, and many successful business challenges, etc. - yet in her new area/assignment their actions were devastating to her career and caused permanent damage to her health.

The workplace bully is not limited to a loud ranting model. Often they are insidious snake-like characters, bent on sabotaging the target. As in my wife's case, blaming the target for incomplete work assigned to others, removing them from meeting calendars. Isolating them physically and in communications from colleagues. It gets to the point were everything one has learned or sucessfully used in work is put into question. One wonders if black is really white and white is really black, and wonders also if in the next step the world will fall out from under their feet.

Bullying is perfectly legal in the US. People should not feel they have discrimination or harassment laws as a safety net. EEO regs are limited to very narrowly defined categories and situations. At the same time most of the rest of the western industrialized world have a system of recourse in place.

Do not expect HR to be sympathetic or interested. One study indicated that in more than 50 percent of cases HR did nothing and in more than 30 percent of cases HR helped the bully. (per Workplace Bullying Inst. )

Leaving a position is NOT always an option, although the majority of targets do. My wife was actively recruited by by another segment of the company when they heard she may be available. She took the position after five months of short term disability leave.

As another article has stated, it is akin rape of the spirit and the mind.


reply Thank you for sharing this example and the website
Submitted by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. on February 2, 2010 - 8:51am.
Yes. I have seen cases where HR has turned on the victim (calling the person a "complainer" or "trouble-maker"), and cases where HR has tried to help, but been ineffective (saying that it's a case of "he-said, she said"; or sweeping it under the rug). It is the insidious types of bullies that are most troubling, as you suggest, because their actions are subtle and don't provide the needed "smoking gun" to pursue legal action successfully.

reply my story, and a few websites
Submitted by Anonymous on February 3, 2010 - 12:49am.
I was seriously bullied by a young assistant professor (who was younger than I was) when I was a PhD student, and I simultaneously was sexually harrassed by a second assistant professor. The head of the department had passed away unexpectedly, and there was a power vacuum and wild-west kind of atmosphere, where people felt they could get away with more than normal. However, the bullying professor actually had a track record of picking one new grad student in each intake year, and his aim was to make them quit by the second year. When I started the Phd, I was warned about this by some of the grad students who were more advanced in the program than I was, but I had made it to my mid-30s without being bullied in my adult/working life, and I actually had always been on good terms with that man in the past (I had known him for 2 years already), so I didn't think that I would be the one out of my classmates to become that man's target. But I was. Two former students had sued him because his actions were illegal, but the university's board threw all their legal might behind the case and the two students lost their fight. That legal verdict was decided the year before I began the program. So, when I was being bullied, even though I took documentation of what was being done to me, plus witnesses, to the professor in charge of advising the first-year students as well as to the administrative dean, they both were silent and said that nothing could be done to help me. I could not believe that an academic institution (a "good" and historical one) and its managers would be so unfair, immoral, and weak. I didn't even complain about the sexual harrassment by the other asst. prof., because I knew that it would be taken even less seriously. The last straw was when the bully told me that if I didn't leave the program at the end of the first year, that when I took his required class in the second year, he would "fail" me in that class, and one fail in the entire 5-year program meant that a student was expelled from the program, so he told me he was "being a 'friend' and saving you time and effort by telling you to give up now instead of dragging it out for another year." He told me that when other students were with me! I got good grades (had been awarded a 5-year full scholarship, in fact) and there was no question that I would ever fail any class normally -- and of course ridiculous to say that you would fail a student before even one assignment was turned in -- it was just one way of threatening me, and when the first-year-students' advisor and the administrative dean told me there was nothing they could do to stop him from failing me (they bizarrely said they could not guarantee that an external professor would be sought to give a second opinion on my class material that would apparently be given an "F" by the bully that following year when I took his required class, even though getting outside opinions was one of the *written* rules of that university in situations where a grade was contested). The sexual-harrasser professor was so horrible to another member of my intake class that she quit in the middle of the first year, so they'd already lost one new grad student from this very small program, and they were about to lose me too -- it didn't make any sense. After being left on my own by the administration, I soon developed clinical depression because, in addition to the daily jerky behavior I received by the two assistant professors, I was also ostracised in public by all the other grad students (they had warned me at the start of the year that this happened each year when the bully's victim was finally chosen and known by all), and I was made aware that negative emails were being circulated about me -- I was told by a professor from an entirely different department who wrote me a snail-mail letter to my home address to tell me so, etc. My physical condition worsened quickly and my doctor instructed me to take a leave of absence, which they had to let me do, but they said they would only let me have 3 months, and told me that if I stayed away any longer from my studies, I'd lose my scholarship. I ended up having to withdraw from the program after the summer after the first year, which was so sad because I had been so excited and dedicated to studying for a PhD as a "mature" student. This incident not only wrecked my mental and physical health for about 5 years afterwards, it also wrecked my reputation in that field, and it seriously hampered my career choices in other fields. How do you explain leaving a good job in your mid-30s to study for a PhD and then quitting your studies after 15 months and being too ill to work for another subsequent 2 years? You look like a lazy, silly person, and I was certainly not that -- but there is no way to go into a job interview and say, "Oh, I was bullied and got clinical depression." No one will hire you - they think you are unstable and will be too much trouble. When this happened to me, I didn't have any money or mental energy to try to sue the university about this, and of course the lawsuit judgement about that professor from the year before (when the bully had done it to 2 students simultaneously, and they had even a better case, better proof, than I had) pretty much sealed my fate anyway. I had already seen some academic unfairness, plagiarism, and political nastiness during my early 20s in my BA and MA, but nothing prepared me for the treatment I got in the PhD program. I lost a huge number of friends (who were assorted other professors, administrative staff, and grad students) in one fell swoop, because they were all afraid of the bully too. I also lost many friends outside the university environment because many people can't handle it when a friend gets clinical depression. I'm now in my early 40s and I am still trying to get my life and career into a reasonable shape. Such a shame, the whole thing, and none of it was my fault - none of it. I really don't see how such a creature as that bullying professor could be given full rein anywhere, let alone at an upstanding "institution". He ended up dying a couple of years ago (of a very early death; he was reportedly alone at the time - no foul play as far as I know!), so at least he isn't terrorizing a new student from each intake year at that university any longer. It has taken me a long time to get to the point of even being near that campus again, and I've been afraid to run into the people from that time in my life, because they must have believed some of the bad rumors that he spread about me, and they were so unsupportive to me in my time of vulnerability. But I'm feeling stronger these days, and there is no question that I have the moral high ground. If I run into them, I will be able to be civil to them to their faces, while despising them/pitying them in my thoughts.

I have saved a few articles on bullying: ... work-and... ... bully.html ... ing-link...
For me, it was best not to dwell on the topic of bullying, because it had all passed (i.e., I had been forced to drop out) by the time I could think halfway straight, and by that point there was nothing I could do to change my situation. I knew it wasn't my fault -- and I guess I had the historical examples of earlier students who had been treated as cruelly as I had. However, over the years, whenever I've seen an anti-bullying website mentioned, I've tucked the address in a document on my computer; I have not visited the following websites, but they might be of help to someone: ... tive-peo...
Thank you so much for sharing this very painful situation
Submitted by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. on February 3, 2010 - 4:14am.
Thank you also for the websites.

Institutions that are very status/power oriented, like universities and the armed forces, seem particularly prone to bullying behavior. I am so glad that you have been able to recover from this horrible situation. Know that you were not alone -- I have heard many similar stories.

Workplace bullying
Submitted by Anonymous on February 3, 2010 - 12:50am.
Psychological bullying, undermining an individuals self esteem and status and creating unessary stress is the most incidious kind of workplace bullying that leaves a scar on the individual for years to come. Bullies adopting this type of behaviour seem to work unchecked in the public sector. Even when complaints are raised following the correct procedures the perpetrators continue in post with no more than a slap on the wrist and some management training. Much more could be done to deal with this unacceptable behaviour but as it is endemic at the top in many organisations HR are unable to get to grips with it. What is needed is tougher sanctions against all those who adopt psychological bullying behaviour towards colleagues and their staff even the most senior staff are involved

reply Bully Boss Database
Submitted by Anonymous on February 3, 2010 - 7:57am.
The best way to deal with workplace bullying is to avoid it in the first place. eBossWatch is a national database of bad bosses that you can search before accepting a new job. Check them out and rate your own boss:
reply Workplace bullying legislation
Submitted by David Yamada on February 3, 2010 - 12:30pm.
Thanks for this blog post about workplace bullying. It's always great to see this destructive phenomenon getting more attention.

I'm the author of the Healthy Workplace Bill, legislation that provides targets of severe workplace bullying with a legal cause of action and offers incentives for employers to act preventively and responsively toward bullying at work. The bill has been introduced (but not yet enacted) in over 15 states legislatures since 2003, with the strong support of Dr. Gary Namie (of Namie & Namie, The Bully at Work and the Workplace Bullying Institute,, along with a growing network of grassroots advocates.

For more, go to

Also, I host a blog, Minding the Workplace ( that frequently discusses workplace bullying and related behaviors.

David Yamada
Professor of Law and Director, New Workplace Institute
Suffolk University Law School, Boston

Thanks, David. I applaud your work.
Submitted by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. on February 3, 2010 - 1:52pm.
Thank you for additional resources!

Dr. Riggio, you are so right
Submitted by Anonymous on February 3, 2010 - 1:38pm.
Dr. Riggio, you are so right about universities being prone to this behavior, ironic as that seems.

I left a horrible situation at a company I had been with for 14 years. Have you ever seen those caricatures of "difficult people" in business books? I was socially ostracized by "Political Polly" a woman who did no actual work but managed to make herself look good and others look bad. No one wanted to get on her bad side.

Things got so bad that one day I clocked out and left forever (do not recommend that!). I went back to school full time.

The bullying turned out to be a blessing and a curse. A curse because I think I still suffer physically and financially after more than 10 years. A blessing because I learned the signs and never, never, never suffered fools again. I believe if it weren't for my prior experience with bullies at work I would not have survived the bullies in academia.

That story about the graduate student dropping out of a PhD program is absolutely heart-breaking. I am so happy to see that the legal system is taking note, our nation can not afford this kind of nonsense.

reply I am the same "anonymous" who
Submitted by Anonymous on February 3, 2010 - 7:00pm.
I am the same "anonymous" who wrote at length about her PhD bullying/clinical depression experience above.

Thank you, Dr. Riggio, for closely following the reader comments made about your article, and for replying kindly to them.

It makes me feel better that you have known others in academia who have experienced what I went through.

Something that I remembered today about that soul-crushing time was an occasion when a professor visited my area for a few days (her trip had nothing to do with my university) and she contacted the university one day to ask if she could take a small group of the PhD students to lunch. (A rare and appreciated gesture.) The professor was Christina Maslach (wife of P. Zimbardo), who had played a part in the Stanford Prison Experiment, so I was very interested in meeting her and listening to her stories and thoughts over lunch. By that time, I was being ostracized by the other students, which may not have been noticeable to a stranger having lunch with 5 quiet and deferential students, but I'm sure that anyone could see in my eyes that I was a bit haunted. Dr. Maslach was studying workplace "burnout" then, so she talked about it at length. I asked her what the difference was between clinical depression and workplace burnout, because to me they sounded so similar, and she said there were huge differences, but I can't recall any of them (I can't recall very much from those months, though, when my brain felt like it had been replaced by cottonballs.)

I'm sorry, but I still think that the symptoms and experience of "burnout" can be very close to those of depression, or precede it commonly enough.

Causing employee burnout seems to be a charge that can be levelled at an organization as a whole without naming specific perpetrators and without the blame inherent in words like "bullying", "authoritarian", "sociopathic", "illegal", etc.

I am not sure if saying in a job interview that one was suffering from "burnout" in one's previous work situation would sound any better than mentioning bullying, depression, or otherwise attempting to explain why one took a sudden leave... maybe marginally it sounds more acceptable.

link to one of her books on burnout: ... 08746.html
"Today's workforce is experiencing job burnout in epidemic proportions. Workers at all levels, both white- and blue-collar, feel stressed out, insecure, misunderstood, undervalued, and alienated at their workplace. This original and important book debunks the common myth that when workers suffer job burnout they are solely responsible for their fatigue, anger, and don't give a damn attitude. The book clearly shows where the accountability often belongs. . . .squarely on the shoulders of the organization."

One thing that drives me up the wall about the social sciences is the way that basic ideas are described with a wide variety of terminology, and each sub-sub-field feels ownership of its idea and would never reach across disciplines in order to factor in what other strains of academia had researched or discussed about the same concept (especially if it uses different language). People are so wedded to preserving their small bit of territory, though, that it's pointless to try to break down the walls. [Example, the "new" field of behavioral economics, which is rediscovering that a wheel is round and fire is hot, harrumph!]

Therefore, I'm only mentioning this idea of workplace "burnout" (especially the kind that is blamed on the organization) here because I've never seen workplace "burnout" discussed in any article about workplace bullying, and it probably is a complementary subject that might offer some insights or confirmation of research results.

Also today, I was reading a news article about a different subject altogether, and I happened to stumble across a link to an emotive article from 1976 about members "trashing" each other in a voluntary membership association -- "trashing" in this case meaning bullying, slandering, ostracizing, etc. Of course, bullying doesn't just happen in the family, at work, or in school; it can even happen in a charity, non-profit, or other voluntary association that is seemingly comprised of well-meaning and thoughtful people. link:
Thank you to the most recent "anonymous" for saying that my story was "heart-breaking". No one, not even my mother, used words like that when I told them what was happening to me at the time, and the empathy would have been so welcome.

That poster also wrote that she learned the signs of bullying and never suffered fools again, but when it's the bully who is in charge of your fate in the organization, no one internally will step up to help, and the legal system won't protect you, I don't know how you can escape him or her. You either suffer or leave - usually both.

This is the big thing for me now: I don't know how anyone can know whom to trust. You can't trust old or new friends, relatives or strangers, mentors or peers, promises or laws.

Maybe if I had been married I would have experienced the support of a spouse during that time, but I wasn't, and mostly everyone clammed up and withdrew from me (either because they were selfishly avoiding any taint or unhappiness, or because they cared about me but just didn't know what to do).

Yes, it's good to be wary and on guard, not completely trusting of anyone, but I was that way to a reasonable extent *before* my bullying experience, and it didn't protect me. Nothing I could have done would have guarded me from having that experience. And a similar thing in different circumstances could just as easily happen to me again.

I sometimes wonder how the people in an "underground railroad" type of organization or a secret political group like the Resistance in WWII figure out who to trust and who not to trust. There will be spies trying to infiltrate them, there will be traitors from within; at every turn they face being discovered and punished. Of course, some did trust the wrong people and lost their lives or were jailed as a result -- but how did the successful ones manage it? Just luck? Have there been specific studies into this? There must have been. Probably military/CIA studies?

I like to think I'm pretty intuitive, realistic, good at observation and sussing out people's characters -- but the bullying incident turned my world upside down and made me doubt everything and everyone. (Except for myself; I was probably lucky in that - my self-belief emerged as strong as ever. It was all so ridiculous and made up in my case that I didn't have to wonder if I was at fault and really underperforming or something -- how can you give someone a failing final grade a year before the class has started?)

I guess life was mirrored in the Stanford prison experiment; given the right circumstances, most (not all, but the overwhelming majority of) people will become cruel, vindictive, power-hungry, and selfish, sometimes with little provocation. Or at least they will look the other way, without doing anything about it.

I was told by the professor from the other department (the one who wrote me a letter at my home address warning me that lying emails were being sent about me) that I needed to find some people that I trusted in life, and to move on from the program and stick with the people I trusted -- but how do you do that? How do you find the 5% (or whatever it was) of the population who are like the subjects in the Stanford prison experiment who were ethical, strong, and steadfast? "Normal" life doesn't give us enough clues about people's characters, I don't think. When stressful, tragic times hit and you do find out how people really are at their core, it's often too late; you've had to throw your lot in with them long before.

reply Very interesting insights about bullying/burnout and others
Submitted by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. on February 4, 2010 - 6:21am.
You are right that many of these constructs are related with only subtle differences. It's also true that all too often social scientists "reinvent the wheel." I once saw a social psychologist talk about a number of different theories (the audience of academics knew them all) and how they all came from one root theory. The interesting part was that the authors of the "reinvented" theories were in the audience. It was interesting watching their reactions.

I am so sorry that you had such a horrible graduate school experience. The analogy to the Stanford Prison experiment is true because grad school becomes, more or less, a "total institution," (at least in some places). It helps to realize that there is more than just that world when you are in graduate school, but that is hard to do. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for cruel, bullying behavior.

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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:30 pm ... gal-q.html

Legal Q&A: Bullying in the workplace
19 January 2010 11:18

There has been substantial recent press coverage regarding the issue of workplace bullying - much of it sparked by a Unison survey suggesting that bullying at work has doubled in the past 10 years, with one in three staff claiming they've been bullied in the past six months.

While this statistic may itself be surprising, a general increase in cases of bullying is probably not.

Q Why the increase?

A Businesses continue to operate in an environment of unprecedented financial turmoil. This places employees with responsibility for the financial bottom line under significant pressure. These are often the same individuals who are responsible for line managing teams, departments or divisions within their employer's business. Moreover, the combination of widespread redundancy exercises with increasing rates of unemployment has led to an environment in which employees are seen as a less valuable commodity, resulting in less focus on the 'softer' side of employee relations.

In addition, as a consequence of the same redundancy exercises, there are an increased number of aggrieved ex-employees who are now more likely to complain about behaviour that previously they would either have reluctantly accepted, or simply not categorised as bullying at all.

Q What is workplace bullying?

A In its Guide on Bullying and Harassment, Acas describes bullying as "offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient".

Such behaviour need not necessarily be directed by a senior employee towards a more junior one. Bullying also takes place between peers, as demonstrated by the practice of "mobbing", where a group of employees target a single co-worker and, through the use of e-mails, comments and general conduct towards that -worker, make their working environment a highly unpleasant one.

Q What are the legal risks?

A Workplace bullying can have a number of undesirable effects, including poor morale, poor performance and loss of productivity due to increased levels of absence. In a legal context, we are seeing an increased number of tribunal claims in which allegations of bullying form a substantial part.

Generally, such allegations feature in one of two ways. Often it is alleged that bullying behaviour is based on, or makes reference to, someone's race, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion and/or a disability (the 'prohibited characteristics'). Such conduct will amount to either direct unlawful discrimination, unlawful harassment or both. An employee is entitled to bring such a claim even if they remain employed. If successful, they would be entitled to receive an award for injury to feelings of between £500 and £30,000, depending upon the severity of the treatment to which they have been subjected.

Where the behaviour complained of results in an employee resigning, and provided they have at least one year's service, they will be entitled to claim constructive unfair dismissal. If successful, an employee will be entitled to recover the losses that they have suffered as a consequence of the termination of their employment up to the statutory cap of £66,200. If it is alleged that the bullying conduct which led to the constructive dismissal was based on one of the protected characteristics (or because they have blown the whistle on the wrongdoing of their employer or a co-worker), there is no requirement for the employee to have one year's service to bring their claim. In addition, the statutory cap on damages falls away, and the employee would also be entitled to an injury to feelings award as referred to above.

Either way, the message is clear: an employer that permits bullying within the workplace is exposing themselves to significant financial risk.

Q What can an employer do to reduce the risk?

A The Acas guide makes a number of suggestions, including operating a specific policy on bullying and harassment, providing training for managers (this should cover both avoiding bullying behaviour when managing subordinates and how to monitor and identify bullying between members of a manager's team), and maintaining comprehensive procedures to deal promptly with any complaints received from employees. These suggestions are clearly sound and are already in situ in many workplaces.

However, perhaps the single most important factor in minimising incidents of bullying in the workplace is that employers are seen to be proactively promoting a non-bullying environment, responding swiftly and appropriately to complaints that they receive. It is practical evidence of a zero-tolerance approach to bullying that is most likely to deter the would-be bully, and to provide their potential victim with the confidence to report instances at an early stage before they have time to become more widespread.

Nick Thomas, senior associate at global law firm Jones Day
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:40 pm ... lizer-use/

By Michelle Castillo /
CBS News/ December 18, 2012, 12:26 PM
Workplace bullying linked to more antidepressant, tranquilizer use

Bullying is a problem that is prevalent in schools, but it can also exist in the workplace. The effects are still as harmful. A new study shows people who are bullied at work are more likely to be prescribed antidepressants, sleeping pills and tranquilizers.

The research, which was published on Dec. 12 in BMJ Open shows that Finnish women and men were 50 and 200 percent respectively more likely to have a prescription for these drugs if they reported being bullied at work.

Between 10 to 14 percent of people in Finland report being bullied at work. Workplace bullying has been known to decrease mental health in employees. However, before this study it has not been shown if bullying has been connected to increased prescription drug use to deal with mental issues. In addition, the effect of witnessing bullying or being at the receiving end of it has not been compared.

"Workplace bullying is about situations at work, where the victims are in an unequal position with respect to their bully and are unable to defend themselves against the negative actions," the authors wrote.

Researchers asked 6606 City of Helsinki, Finland employees about their experiences with workplace bullying between 2000 and 2002. They were asked to report whether they experienced or saw bullying. All participants were between the ages of 40 and 60 and were part of the Helsinki Health Study.

Five percent of employees said they were currently being bulled. Out of them, 18 percent of women and 12 percent in men admitted to being bulled before either at the same job or by another employer. About half of the subjects said they had witnessed workplace bullying at least occasionally, while 10 percent said they saw it quite often.

"We've all seen it go on," Dr. Nadine Kaslow, vice chair of psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not involved with the study told ABC News. "It's that bystander effect; nobody wants to do anything about it."

Researchers also looked at national registry data on purchased prescribed "psychoactive" drugs -- meaning anti-depressants, sleeping pills and tranquilizers -- for each subject for three to five years after they were surveyed.

They found that workplace bullying increased the number of prescriptions in both men and women who were targeted or witnessed the attack. In addition to increased prescription drug use for those who were bulled, women and men who witnessed the bullying were 53 percent and almost 200 percent more likely to be on antidepressants, tranquilizers or sleeping pills as well.

Even after taking outside factors into account -- including previous medication for mental health issues, childhood bullying, social class and weight -- there was still a strong association observed.

In an article for PsychCentral, Katherine Prudente, a licensed creative arts therapist specializing in drama therapy with the Freedom Institute Independent School Program, advocated that companies should have a response to workplace bullying just like schools do. Employees should also be educated on their options -- for example, what HR would do if they reported the bullying and what medical treatments are available through their employer -- if they experience abuse. Witnesses should also be trained to go to HR if they see bullying happening.

"As bullying becomes a national focus, I value the attention it is getting beyond the playground," Prudente wrote. "It is evident that there is a pervasive culture of bullying that, unless we address universally, will not end. We have to help and protect our children as well as model for them (even if they are not cognizant of it) how to live bully free."


rwsmith29456 says:It's the subject of comedy shows that people incessantly target and taunt others. Personally I don't find it funny as much as it is sick. But hey, nowadays sick is funny, right

ptsdnightmare says:I am so grateful for the ethical psychologists and psychiatrists that are coming out and giving the absolute common sense truth regarding the harm and the severity of experiencing humiliating and demoralizing abuse within the workplace. One article said it so perfectly when the writer stated that being bullied in school is horrendous and traumatic, but not connected to your family's rent money or mortgage payment, car, utilities and food. Being bullied, scapegoated, disrespected horribly, demeaned and harassed within the workplace is so many more times over debilitating because it is connected to how you care for your family. Your economic survival.It is devastating and changes the way that you view life. Especially when bystanders hardly intervene even if mgmt knows. HR then covers it over and seeks to diminish and hush you. When that does not work and you still stand up as it continues, they force you out and begin to try and discredit you where you have always been a top performer in character and ability. It causes PTSD and almost agoraphobia as you really don't want to leave your home. Job prospects are not plentiful and possible sabotage can occur. You are left in a cycle of despair sitting at the table with no income and wondering what you will do to take care of your family. Somewhat handicap with severe trust issues, and truthfully scared to enter another work environment, but wanting desperately your life and dignity back. This worse especially if dealing with a severely unethical company. Try being diagnosed with PTSD by your own therapists formally and having the known unethical large company send you to a paid Dr. who they say was Independent and you then tell him some of the horrors that occurred with vulgar swear names you were called and incidents while you worked, off the cuff veiled threats of violence as you ignored and privacy invasions/near stalking that will have you in your home in a severe depression. All of this while you are trying to work and preserve your dignity, restraining your retaliation and really not having such a character within you. Try having that paid IME tell you to your face that "they weren't talking to you" when you describe near verbatim what was said and where each person stood (a permanent memory each incident)And being blatantly dissuaded every time you opened your mouth to answer a question from the paid Dr. Try having this Dr. tell you that you cannot have PTSD from such horrible harassment over long periods of time. What if the Dr. keeps saying "Were you almost killed" well then you don't have ptsd. What if this happened to you and you audio taped the interview as clear as ever without the unethical Dr. knowing. (legal in your state). It would likely damage you more severely to know that a licensed medical professional could be paid to harm you further this way, when you are already sleepless and living a PTSD nightmare. What would you do with the tape as ethical Doctors come out in droves telling of the PTSD and severe damage this causes and the tide turns to force change. Articles, warnings, press releases, efforts in legislation all occurring just as this recently happened to you and you are now slipping downward. Would you utilize that recording to inform of what was done to you in some way. Would you want this unethical doctor paid by a very known unethical company to begin treating people for workplace bullying trauma after knowingly having been paid to annihilate a person in what he thought was a private attempt to dissuade them of their feelings regarding what happened to them. It's a nightmare reality.

Sassytooyou says:Being attacked usually stems from a lazy person trying to cover up their inability to do their job by by drawing attention to someone else" word of advice if you are the target ask them what they got done at their desk". These people do little work if any and other employees/even bosses are often afraid to ask them do do anything. Bosses that are bullies are usually incompetant. They bully to cover up the fact that they dont know proceedure or practice.

Kovacsmaster replies: linkicon reporticon emailicon Sassytooyou - your analysis is very true and very typical to what Ihave observed working 27 years in a government office.....

ellensmithee says:There is a great deal of psychopathy in our society. Psychopaths, people with no empathy for other people, people who will destroy other people in the selfish fulfillment of their own desires and needs. There are gossip websites who believe they can tear down celebrities or anyone who makes the news, and they'll reason that if those people are public people, it's okay to bully and tear them down. People beat their children and then don't care if those children take their rage out on other children. Even worse for supposedly mature adults to do at work. Our society is focused on our own individual satisfaction instead of the group's health. That's why all the bankers stole our money, and all of Congress is bought by corporations run by psychopaths who give our jobs away. Religious nuts who wish to take away birth control so all of this keeps happening. More and more children put through this psychopathic world.If this worldwide psychopathy continues, we as a species deserves to die. It's psychopathic that we will also kill most of the life on this planet. How's that for self-centeredness and psychopathy?Why don't you do something nice for someone today, compliment a stranger, and volunteer to help people less fortunate instead of damaging someone today? And don't tell yourself it's their fault. That's a psychopathic thought. Are you a psychopath? Only a psychopath doesn't think about it. If you don't care, perhaps you're a psychopath.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:30 pm ... e-bully#p1

Taming the Workplace Bully
By Adam Piore
November 21, 2012

It started during the training sessions for her new job. Elizabeth Santeramo, a cancer information specialist in New York, saw a woman across the room glance in her direction, whisper in the ear of a co-worker, and then snort derisively. The episode seemed so brazenly immature, as if plucked directly from Mean Girls, that Santeramo shrugged it off. “The work we were doing was to help people who were just diagnosed with cancer,” she says. “We’re all empathic, compassionate people, I told myself. I’m just being paranoid.” A few days later, the abusive snickering intensified.

One day Santeramo’s nemesis approached a cubicle near hers, where she removed a cutout picture of a golden-haired cat and propped it up so everyone in the room could see it. When Santeramo stood up, puzzled, the woman began to meow at her. Her colleagues around her joined in. Soon, a chorus of malicious meowing would follow Santeramo in and out of the office like a demented soundtrack. “To this day,” she says, “I remain mystified by the meows.”

The abuse, which led to an emotional meeting with her supervisor, is just one indication of how bullying, contrary to popular stereotype, has made its way from high school locker rooms and hallways to the office. “In a lot of workplaces, it’s just considered part of daily workplace culture,” says Joe Grimm, professor of journalism at Michigan State University. “Browbeating, intimidation, cutting people off, and being the loudest in the room with an opinion.” In a recent book he edited, The New Bullying: How Social Media, Social Exclusion, Laws and Suicide Have Changed Our Definition of Bullying, Grimm reveals how bullying has some professionals living in debilitating fear of the office, which may sound familiar for viewers of The Devil Wears Prada, the thinly veiled account of working at Vogue, or the junior analysts at Goldman Sachs (GS) who were once forced to dress up like Teletubbies. “When bullies get out of school,” says Grimm, “they don’t stop being bullies.”

By some accounts, legions of Biff Tannens and Nurse Ratcheds are running rampant, inflicting cruelty on a large part of the American workforce. In August, CareerBuilder announced that 35 percent of employees surveyed claim to have been bullied at work, up from 27 percent the year before. The Workplace Bullying Institute, based in Bellingham, Wash., has 36 state chapters, a 10,000-person mailing list, and local, on-the-ground “targets” (the WBI doesn’t like the word victim) who now direct anti-bullying campaigns and serve as local points of contact. This year legislation making it easier for bullying victims to sue employers was introduced in 13 states.

The official definition of bullying, according to the WBI, is a “repeated, health-harming mistreatment” by one or more “perpetrators” that takes the form of “verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating,” or “work interference-sabotage—which prevents work from getting done.” Here, WBI representatives make a distinction between a bully and someone who’s just mean. An overly demanding boss, explains a WBI volunteer, generally puts pressure on all underlings. Once a task is finished, however, verbal assaults stop. Bullies tend to single out an individual with an added level of personal malice. When a manager at a Direct Federal Credit Union a few years ago seized an underling’s diary and read excerpts to her co-workers, that was bullying.

In the corporate world, bullying tends to be about power, control, and career advancement. “Bullying can be a way of getting ahead,” says Stacey Kessler, assistant professor of management at Montclair State University. For decades researchers have used questionnaires known as Machiavellianism (or Mach) scales to measure an individual’s capacity to engage in the manipulative, amoral, and deceitful behaviors espoused by the 15th century ends-justify-the-means diplomat. Recently psychologists found that those who score high on the 100-point Mach scale are also among those likeliest to engage in office bullying. The employee “might bully someone at the job to keep them quiet or to get an individual to do more things for him or her,” says Kessler. The person could also be popular and want to maintain his or her status, or have low self-esteem and want to feel superior, adds Robin Kowalski, a psychology professor at Clemson University. “In workplace bullying,” she says, “you’re talking about adults who have a certain degree of self-control, so they are more devious and calculating.”

This raises the question: Should business become more like high school and impose strict rules protecting individuals from persecution? Gary Namie, a social psychologist, would say yes. Ever since his wife was bullied by a boss and fell into depression in the 1980s, Namie has been working to shed light on office bullying. He co-founded the WBI with his wife in 1991 but has been fighting a largely losing battle in the courts. He estimates that in almost 20 years he’s been involved in 30 bullying cases, five of which settled and 22 of which were thrown out. Only one went to trial. “I feel bad for the clients because they sunk money into these cases,” he says. “Nothing that employers do seems to be outrageous enough for the courts.” Much of this failure stems from employment laws that stack the deck in the bully’s favor. Many states preclude employees from taking actions against employers for emotional harm unless there’s a discriminatory or retaliatory component—in other words, unless race, gender, or whistle-blowing is a factor. “I lost another summary judgment in favor of employers just last week,” says Namie.

In a case cited by David Yamada, a professor and founding director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, a physician in Arkansas abused an employee for two years, called her a “slut,” and told her repeatedly that women who work outside the home are “whores and prostitutes.” Making matters worse, he threatened to kill her if she quit. In its decision, an Arkansas court ruled that even if the allegations were true, they still didn’t add up to intentional affliction of emotional stress.

"Many targets say, 'I'm just being crushed at work,'" Yamada says. "And the lawyers are telling them this type of mistreatment is completely legal."

Lawsuits aside, there’s at least one powerful incentive for companies to consider adopting anti-bullying measures. According to a landmark 2008 Gallup Poll of more than 1 million workers, the most common reason for quitting a job: an overbearing boss. “Bullying is hugely expensive,” says Michigan State’s Grimm. “It keeps people from the jobs they could best do. If you quit because of bullying, it would take a company twice your annual salary to replace you: flying in job candidates, hiring, and training.” And sometimes these conflicts are more easily fixable. After Santeramo complained to her supervisor about her tormentor, which had little effect, she decided to test the age-old theory that “bullies are cowards.”

“I approached her to befriend her,” she says. “And it worked.”


mysticnox, 11/24/2012 08:51 PM
So the solution to bullying is to become their friend? Yeah, sure it is. Can you hear the sarcasm? My last two jobs I was so badly bullied that I was leaving crying from work at least once a week, plus stomach aches and worse. And it wasn't just me that he was doing it to. My coworker was telling stories of horrific nightmares she was having every night about the workplace. I once had a nightmare where every time I was entering the door of my job, I was being strapped down and shot by metal balls.
You don't "befriend" the bully with something like that.
Bullying at work needs to stop. Period. And the insane idea that there's nothing wrong with treating people that way as long as it doesn't violate the constitution or whistle blowing is disgusting and wrong.

Ironboomer, 11/25/2012 02:17 PM
The correct way to deal with bullies is to crush them.

Melissa, 11/28/2012 07:53 AM
The best way to crush them is to discredit them and make them look like a fool and an abuser in public at a major "social" event.

Peter Roach, 11/24/2012 08:19 PM
Quit and don' put up that sh*t ! Life is about taking chances. If your situation is a loser, get out !
The break down of decency and morals continues from the 1970s. It will stop when the pain is sufficiently high.
Obviously there continues to exist a surplus of white collar people for them to waste so much time on useless sophomoric behavior. The solution to such idiots is to fire them. They are many fish in the sea folks. This is not worth tolerating.

Melissa, 11/28/2012 07:55 AM
When money is the only thing your boss or owner is after, nothing else matters. Morals, Ethics...there are none. The sad thing is the best companies are ones who do not allow such non-sense...there just are not enough of these companies to go around.
David Smith, Yesterday 09:29 AM
Excessive bullying at work can certainly be unhelpful when trying to maintain an efficient, happy workplace. How do you deal with bullying? to take our workplace survey and learn the results

Meagan Baalman Wairama, 11/26/2012 03:43 PM
I have to say that articles like this make me wonder about the people claiming to be bullied. Why stay in a position that makes you unhappy? And if you are frequently bullied in mulitple work places, what's to say that something is not wrong with the way that you work? Perhaps your coworkers do not like you because of something you are doing. I always say that strong people can handle many difficult personalities. So deal with it or leave. Those sound like pretty easy options to me. I once dealt with a complicated coworker. I put up with her for two years while looking for a better/different position at another company. I ended up leaving for a senior position at another company when given the opportunity. If you choose to stay in a job that makes you miserable, you deserve what you get.

splainntall, Yesterday 01:17 PM
I am skeptical of examples that only show one side of the story, so I completely agree with Meagan's comments. The meowing sounds to odd and random not to have a reason behind it. There seems to be some exaggeration in the examples given. I have had experiences with co-workers who don't pull their weight, but complain that other co-workers are mean. When they are confronted on their faults they cry to gain sympathy. As a result, nobody wants to work with them or trusts their work. This person would complain about little things. They would complain that a person didn't say "good morning" to them. They would complain when 2 or 3 of us would take a lunch together (our own personal 1 hour of time) and not invite her. I think some people expect their co-workers to be their friends, but that is just not the case. It is not your co-workers' responsibility to be your best buddy. Their responsibility is to show up to work, do their job, and be civil to co-workers. If you create a situation where others have to pickup where you fail, expect there to be repercussions.

Melissa, 11/28/2012 07:59 AM
End entitlement and companies that are owned and run by families' college kids that have no clue how to treat people with respect, let alone run a company...they have been spoon-fed their whole life. It should be against the law to allow such non-sense. Make them work and educate themselves rather than "give" them a job especially when they have no clue how to do it or treat people with respect.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:52 pm

Mar 15, 2013, 6:01am EDT Updated: Mar 15, 2013, 10:27am EDT
When adults are bullies in the workplace
Robin Bond, Guest Collumnist

The Bully Project, the social action campaign inspired by the film “Bully,” asks us all to “Take a Stand Against Bullying”. That can be hard to do if you’re the victim, or if you feel you need to “go along” with the bullies just to keep your job. Studies show that up to half of all employees feel they have been, or are being, bullied. Many of my clients have experienced bullying. I wanted to write this blog to give you some tips on how to stand up for yourself at work if you feel you are the victim of emotional, physical or mental bullying.

“Bullying” can be simply defined as repeated behavior from superiors, subordinates or peers that is intended to demean, humiliate or intimidate an individual. It is a way to make the workplace so intolerable that it forces an employee to quit. If the bullying is done by a group, it is called “Mobbing.” According to studies by The Workplace Bullying Institute, an estimated 53.5 million employees, or approximately 35% of the U.S. workforce, have experienced bullying. A different study released by the Employment Law Alliance and recently reported in the Wall Street Journal found that 45% of respondents had been bullied at the office (examples consisted of verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority, and deliberate destruction of relationships.)

On Saturday, March 2, 2012, a little 12-year-old Delco boy died after sustaining brain injuries – from a bully on his school’s playground. As we all know, the problem of bullying is not new. And this so-called rite of passage is not playful. I watched the compelling CNN special called “The Bully Effect” which aired 3/3/13. It followed the stories of a number of people from filmmaker Lee Hirsch’s award-winning 2012 film “Bully.” As Anderson Cooper said, “These are kids and parents who have taken their pain, their suffering, their grief and turned it into action. They are truly inspiring.”

Unfortunately, bullying is a phenomenon we aren’t growing out of; rather, bullying is alive and well in adult work places. Bullying can have deadly emotional and physical consequences. And, in an electronic age, with access to electronic devices, the Internet and social media, this means there is no safe haven for victims -- people can be bullied and tormented around the clock.

Typical bullies are managers or supervisors, but from my experience with clients, it is just a likely to be a jealous peer. Bullies can be female or male – but 77% of bullying victims are women. Whereas men are equal opportunity bullies, women target other women 80% of the time. Most bullying is technically “legal” according to the strict definition of anti-discrimination laws and workplace policies – which means you aren’t picking on someone due to their race, color, national origin, gender, disability or other protected class status.

Not only do human resources representatives and managers often fail to heed the targeted person’s requests for help, but based upon interviews I’ve conducted, 57% of co-workers tend to react negatively towards the victim – and support the bully. Victims left their jobs in more than 80% of the cases.

The effects of bullying are far-reaching.
Although it occurs four times more often than illegal discrimination, workers are often too afraid to report the incidents. Victims tend to suffer from depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, post-traumatic stress syndrome and loss of productivity. Employers experience a decrease in staff morale, profits, quality of work, and reputation, and experience an increase in employee turnover, and costly litigation and claims for stress-related disability and workers compensation. It is such a lose-lose phenomenon that it’s hard to believe that bullying is on the increase.

What can you do if you are a victim of bullying? Based upon my years of being both an in-house legal counsel, and representing individual employees, here are my 5 key action steps:

- Document what happens to you, and when. It is important to know who has witnessed these events. Keep this journal at home, and not on work equipment or premises.

- Seek legal counsel to see if the mental or verbal harassment is actionable under the law, even if it may not constitute illegal discrimination under Title VII. Get a strategic plan in place with your attorney and put it into action;

- Consider using your company’s internal grievance system, anti-violence policy, code of conduct or ethics hotline;

- Get psychological counseling to help you with coping strategies and possible medical treatments and time off/leave to fortify you against the abuse; and

- Realize that you have done nothing to
justify this type of abuse!

If you work in an organization where bullying is occurring, watch “Bully” – and see if you don’t feel compelled to Take a Stand Against Bullying too. We all know in our gut what the right thing is to do – and not to do. See how good it feels to be a part of doing the right thing. Or if you don’t have the courage to do that, at least do no harm.

Robin Bond, Esq. is the principal and founder of Transition Strategies, LLC, ( a boutique employment law firm located in Wayne, PA, that represents employees in all aspects of workplace-related legal matters.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:05 pm ... 283420.htm

Workplace Bullying Emerging As Major Employment Liability Battleground
By Sam Hananel | March 4, 2013

Margaret Fiester is no shrinking violet, but she says working for her former boss was a nightmare.

“One day I didn’t do something right and she actually laid her hands on me and got up in my face and started yelling,’ Why did you do that?”’ said Fiester, who worked as a legal assistant for an attorney.

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Fiester doesn’t have to worry about those tirades anymore, but she hears lots of similar stories in her current role as operations manager at the Society for Human Resource Management, where she often fields questions about the growing issue of workplace bullying.

On-the-job bullying can take many forms, from a supervisor’s verbal abuse and threats to cruel comments or relentless teasing by a co-worker. And it could become the next major battleground in employment law as a growing number of states consider legislation that would let workers sue for harassment that causes physical or emotional harm.

“I believe this is the new claim that employers will deal with. This will replace sexual harassment,” said Sharon Parella, a management-side employment lawyer in New York. “People who oppose it say these laws will force people to be polite at work. But you can no longer go to work and act like a beast and get away with it.”

Many companies already recognize workplace bullying as a problem that can sap morale, lead to increased employee turnover and even affect the bottom line. Half the employers in a 2011 survey by the management association reported incidents of bullying in their workplace, and about a fourth of human resource professionals themselves said they had been bullied.

At St. Anthony North Hospital outside of Denver, human resources director Robert Archibold says most of the bullying incidents he sees are peer-to-peer. In a recent case, one worker got offended by a co-worker’s remark and suggested they “take it out to the parking lot.” The offending worker was suspended under the hospital’s anti-bullying policy, which has been in place for more than a decade.

“Hostile work environments, threats, bullying can come from anywhere,” he said. “You can’t tell by looking at someone who it will be.”

One reason the issue has attracted more attention in recent years is that parents who deal with school bullying realize it can happen in the workplace, too.

Some employers have put into place anti-bullying policies, but advocacy groups want to go even further. They have been urging states to give legal rights to workers who do not already fit into a protected class based on race, gender or national origin.

More than a dozen states — including New York and Massachusetts — have considered anti-bullying laws in the past year that would allow litigants to pursue lost wages, benefits and medical expenses and compel employers to prevent an “abusive work environment.”

Gary Namie, a social psychologist who co-founded the Bellingham, Wash.-based Workplace Bullying Institute in 1997, is among those leading the charge, along with labor unions and civil rights groups. He says the economic downturn has made bullying even worse and argues that passage of the laws would give employers more incentive to crack down on bad behavior in the workplace.

“People are trapped; they don’t have the same alternative jobs to jump to,” Namie said. “They are staying longer in these pressured, stress-filled, toxic work environments.”

Business groups have strongly opposed the measures, arguing they would open the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits.

“We would look at a bill like this as overreaching,” said Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He said the bill would punish an employer for acts of its employees that it may not be able to anticipate.

But Parella, the employment lawyer, thinks it’s only a matter of time before states begin passing these laws and bullying issues become a major factor in workplace litigation.

“Once it passes in a few states, there will be a chain reaction,” she said, noting that other countries such as England, Ireland and Sweden already have laws addressing workplace harassment.

In Massachusetts, the National Association of Government Employees Local 282 has been one the first unions in the country to include an anti-bullying clause in collective bargaining agreements.

“From a labor perspective, we want there to be remedies in place for corrections to be made, not to yell, scream, threaten or treat the person basically like a slave,” said Greg Sorozan, president of NAGE, which represents about 12,000 public employees.

In 2008, Sorozan succeeded in placing “mutual respect” provisions in labor contracts with the state that say harassment, abusive language and bullying behavior will not be tolerated in the workplace. It allows workers to raise concerns with managers and file a grievance if not satisfied.

Sorozan said the provision recently helped workers in a state office who complained about a manager who acted bizarrely, leering at employees over cubicles and randomly punishing those who questioned him by reassigning them or refusing to let them take vacations. After the union complained, the manager was eventually forced out.

The management association survey found that 56 percent of companies have some kind of anti-bullying policy, usually contained in an employee handbook or code of conduct. Most said their response to bullying allegations depends on the circumstances but could include suspension, termination, reassignment or mandatory anger management training.

Employers say the vast majority of bullying incidents are verbal abuse, such as shouting, swearing and name-calling, along with malicious gossip, rumors and lies. Bullying through technology, such as Facebook or other social media, accounted for about 1 in 5 incidents, the survey found.

“It’s usually the manager or senior executive who’s just a complete out-of-control jerk,” Fiester said. “Everyone’s going to be walking around on eggshells around somebody like that. You’re afraid to make mistakes, you’re afraid to speak up, you’re afraid to challenge.”

If the bully is a senior manager or CEO, resolving a complaint can be tricky for a low-level human resources employee.

“It might be a little bit difficult to discipline the CEO,” said Fiester, the human resources adviser. “You are really walking a tightrope.”

She suggests approaching someone else in senior management who might be in a better position to approach the boss.


jw says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
“People who oppose it say these laws will force people to be polite at work.” What’s wrong with this statement?
I understand the concern over frivolous lawsuits; I’m not convinced that all harassment suits are valid. However, being polite at work is not a bad thing.
March 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Agent says:
Hot debate. What do you think?
We live in such an angry, hostile society and many businesses finds it increasingly hard to do business with all the scrutiny of government, higher taxes, more regulation, mandatory health care on the horizen. Is it any wonder that some management take it out on employees. I am not saying it is right, but it could be the reason. I can’t imagine an employer having to say to employees they have to cut their hours due to increased costs. Does the employee sue over that as well?
March 5, 2013 at 11:04 am
jw says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
I agree that we appear to be an angry society. Yes, there is greater scrutiny and regulation in many things. Why do managers, or anyone for that matter, feel it’s okay to be a jerk? You admit it’s wrong, yet you seem to say it’s expected. Isn’t that part of the problem? We aren’t surprised by bad behaviour and all of us allow it to continue.
I’m just advocating for a pleasant work environment. Perhaps, if companies advocate for their employees to be polite, we wouldn’t need additional regulation. Wishful thinking, eh?
March 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Agent says:
Like or Dislike:
There is way too much stress in our society and upper management puts a lot of pressure on their employees to get a result. In the Insurance Industry, if the Combined Loss Ratio is not good, they have to take actions to correct it. Sometimes, unpleasant decisions have to be made. That is the nature of the beast.
March 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm
jw says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Unpleasant decisions are not the same as bullying. The decisions necessary to make a profit (or just stay in business) may be unwelcome and unpleasant, but they are a part of business.
Bullying in the work place is similar to bullying at school. It serves no usful purpose; in fact, it may reduce productivity and profitability. So, I don’t think bullying is a result of the current negative business atmosphere.
March 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm
Agent says:
Like or Dislike:
As an agency owner, we have always striven to have a pleasant, polite working environment. It takes a lot for me to get upset with an employee. I have had some in the past that liked to push the envelope and were not getting their work done and testing the sick leave policy to the max. We usually have at least 3 counseling/review sessions with an employee and if performance doesn’t pick up, we have no choice but to terminate them. This is not bullying, but we do have a business to run and some employees just don’t work out. We are fortunate that we have had very good employees the past 5 years. They know what is expected and they get the job done.
March 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm
Questionning says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
My first job interview after 18 years was going very well. Until the interviewer, the Underwriting Office Manager. inquired if I could accept their Regional Manager screaming at me because apparently that was his form of communication. I just really wanted to ask her if it was “acceptable” to her, who would be my immediate supervisor. But apparently the shocked look on my face was enough to let her know I would not be her best hire.
March 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm
Producer #1 says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
That is a funny (well not really) story. If I were in that interview I would have responded by saying… ” Did you want me to sue you now, or shall I wait until after you do or don’t hire me.”
It seems that this employer is admitting that they have a hostile environment yet choosing to accept it. An Employment Attorney could eat these folks for lunch.
To me this is a double problem. A) The business accepts a hostile manager,,, and B) that the HR manager is openly discussing this in an interview. It really shows that the upper management has no control over their subordinates. HR people should not speak so freely, they should choose their words more carefully…. and a hostile manager should never be “accepted.”
March 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm
Questionning says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
She was not truly an HR person. Just an Underwriter/Manager but left to do the hiring. The problem is if one person is the “bully” or the screamer, etc., they can develop culture for the entire office or company. If anger, meanness, rudeness, etc is acceptable for one, then it must be acceptable for all, and it won’t take long before you have a very dysfunctional work place. I am, by nature, nonconfrontational and born to be polite, but if surrounded by shrews could easily become one to survive. But why? Isn’t it really just easier to be nice?
March 5, 2013 at 11:50 am
Agent says:
Hot debate. What do you think?
It has been my experience that the last person you want taking over hiring duties is an underwriting manager. They generally don’t have many people skills. They are mainly numbers crunchers and the human element doesn’t enter into the equation.
March 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm
Tweety Bird says:
Like or Dislike:
Wow! that is awful! That is a true shame over all…….tell me was this an insurance carrier?
March 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm
MG says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Sad thing is that our HR person is the worst offender of this type!
March 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm
Anonymous says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
At one company I worked for, a department head was allowed to continue her reign of terror for years. This included verbal abuse, screaming, and a now-famous “countdown” to deadlines for work she needed to present to senior managers. Numerous employees went to human resources to complain. Our department experienced more than 100 percent turnover. This person received “coaching,” then was shuffled around to another department. She was finally let go with the explanation that her new position had been discontinued. I don’t understand why the company didn’t care about the pain she inflicted nor, at the very least, see the legal risk she presented. I hope companies take heed of the very real issue corporate bullying presents.
March 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Happy underwriter today says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Sad part is I used to work for an executive VP who is now the President and her mode of operation was intimidation and threats — mosting because she knew she wanted you to do something that was not ethical or against company policy. She threatened me one day and I walked. I wonder how many more honest and respectable employees she has run out of the company. Sadly it will fail someday because of her.
March 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm
JJ says:
Like or Dislike:
Did you happen to work in education? You’re describing my former job, except the gender of the boss. He used to have me fraudulently create parking permits, passes to his kids’ athletic events, etc. Worked with him for 14 years and ended up on mental family & medical leave due to the conditions.
March 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm
ron says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
What will happen in those places of business where you have a single owner who bullies. Bringing suit agianst them will not change their management style. And, who defines bullying. Some people can’t deal with any critisiam.
March 5, 2013 at 11:08 am
jw says:
Like or Dislike:
The same issue plagues “harassment” claims, and you see where that’s gone. A nightmare.
March 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm
M Smith says:
Like or Dislike:
I can tell you “ALL” off hand that I have a really GOOD friend in the Insurance Industry who works for one of the TOP 3 carriers in New York. There claims office is a complete JOKE! First she tells me that Management that has been there for over 20 years KNOWS less then the new people they have hired from there competitors. Then they HAND give the jobs to there friends who know absulutely nothing about the position and get a huge raise. oh WAIT! the best part for last…………..have of the people on the floor are all sleeping with each other including management who are MARRIED!
They take 2 hour lunches……………is’nt that just lovely.
And if you dont do what they tell you to do………You are let GO!
March 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm
Center Point says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Ya know, the U.S. House, Senate and Executive branch of government could do with a spell of being polite to one another and to get the people’s work done in an efficient manner without all the drama.
March 5, 2013 at 11:10 am
jw says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Now that is a pipe dream. ;)
March 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm
draetish says:
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On-the-job bullying can take many forms, from a supervisor’s verbal abuse and threats to cruel comments or relentless teasing by a co-worker. And it could become the next major battleground in employment law as a growing number of states consider legislation that would let workers sue for harassment that causes physical or emotional harm.
Isn’t this already address as “Harrasment” and you can sue anybody for anything. Why does it have to be a law?
March 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm
Agent says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
We already have a slew of Employment Practices laws on the books. With the way things are now, if an employer looks at a disgruntled employee the wrong way, they get sued. I can see problems with employers having to lay people off due to business issues or prosecuting employees for theft of goods or money. It used to be mostly about Sexual Harassment, but now there is a lot more in the equation and people will sue in the drop of a hat hoping to get a big settlement. Then, they file unemployment as well. I had a woman I let go for non-performance, attendance and a whole myriad of other issues file unemployment on me twice. Once for the period right after dismissal and another time 5 years later. We fought and won that round.
March 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm
Supervisor Nelson says:
Like or Dislike:
Quit staplin’ yourself! Quit staplin’ yourself!
March 5, 2013 at 11:19 am
Huh! says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
I endured a boss that bullied several employees for years. If it takes a law to stop such behaviour, I’m all for it. A good boss doesn’t need to worry about such laws because they simply don’t engage in the type of behaviour that is outlawed. Too bad we have to legislate courtesy.
March 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm
UCT says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
I work for a large Insurance Carrier. During the yearly reviews, I contantly hear people talking about how “rude” or “mean” the Supervisor was towards them. I know these employees personally and know they are less than useless. Is it considered bullying to tell some lazy worker to stop playing on the internet all day? You know many people would call it bullying simply to threaten the company with a lawsuit. Describing what EXACTLY constitutes bullying would have to be defined first. Criticism isn’t bullying. Screaming at the employee while criticizing is.
In my opinion, this law would lead to an absolute mess in the court system. Unless a victim of verbal abuse has a tape recorder on them, how do you prove their was abuse in court? If there is a large victory by a worker, does the company then have to cut staff to stay in business? Slippery slope.
March 7, 2013 at 7:58 am
jw says:
Like or Dislike:
Unfortunately, there are many “employees” who think it’s unfair for them to have to actually work for their paycheck. I can see that type of person thinking they are being picked on because they were told to do their work. In an ideal world, they would be fired as soon as their lack of work ethic is discovered.
March 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm
Agent says:
Like or Dislike:
Hey UCT, are you by chance located in Connecticut? It seems to me that I saw an article recently that was talking about the State of Connecticut considering making “Mental Anguish” covered under their Workers Compensation Law. If that is true and it comes to pass, the worker can collect if they develop that condition as a result of work. So the scenario is that the manager bullies the employee causing them mental anguish, they take off, gets weekly indemnity and medical for psychiatric counseling. Would they ever come back to that workplace? Probably not!
March 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Kathleen Davis says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
I have just quit my 2nd job because of a work place bully. I was in the market after working for the same company for 15 years. I would have worked there until retirement if they had not gone under during the recession.
I am the head of HR. I have dealt with oppressive and abusive managers in the past, but not company owners.
After leaving my longtime job the owner, of my new company, unbeknownst to me was diagnosed with rage issues. One day he stood in the middle of a meeting and started screaming at the top of his lungs at one of my staff people. I verbally (quietly) intervened and he turned on me. He was screaming loudly, veins where raised on his head, and his hands were in fists. I positioned myself to move in the event he struck me. As I was leaving for the day (immediately following his outburst) he stopped by my office to say he was sorry. The next day there was a gift on my desk. I found out from the staff that this was a regular occurrence. I found another job in 3 months and left.
The next company was run by 5 partners. 3 were openly demeaning and disrespectful of their employees and the other 2 pretended nothing was occurring. Relatively early I witnessed it occurring and as HR I professionally guided the owners with behavior which I thought would better deliver the outcome they desired.
An executive I hired quit within 6 months. He had challenges with the respect he was receiving from one of the owners. I had spoken with this owner in the past. When I attempted to see if there was anything that I could do that he would reconsider – He told me I was delusional if I thought I could influence the owners in any way and that it was only a matter of time before they treated me badly.
Guess what, He was correct. This owner acted like a horses a##. I told him that he had made inappropriate statements to me and that I would appreciate if he would refrain. It only got worse. What is amazing is that he sabotaged my work. He is an owner; you would think this would not serve him.
I remained calm, but I was becoming more aggravated. I realized that it was not possible for me to stay until I found another job.
I gave my notice and when asked why was I leaving I simply stated that it was not a fit. I was not going to blow up bridges. One of the partners offered to be my reference.
I am blessed because I had the savings to allow me to leave, but I am pissed that I have had to take this route.
I believe it is only a matter of time before work place bullying is against the law.
March 6, 2013 at 7:55 am
jw says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Wow, Kathleen, how horrible. It appears you did everything you could, for which I commend you. I hope you find the job of your dreams soon. You’ve earned it!
March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm
draetish says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
Although I feel your pain Kathleen as I was a victim of verbal abuse from an agency owner, there is not much you can do and that is the sad part to feel helpless and let these people get away with it with no recourse.
March 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm
Questionning says:
Like or Dislike:
And bullies naturally gravitate toward the vulnerable. They know those that need the job so badly that they will tolerate the abuse. Single mothers, or one income families, or those new in the work environment that have college debt. Anybody else remember the LA Law episode when the office w(b)itch fell down the elevator shaft and nobody batted an eye?
March 6, 2013 at 11:54 am
Anonymous2day says:
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Kathleen, I’m sorry for what you’ve had to put up with. The guy with rage issues acts like a wife-beater (apologizing and giving a gift later). If he’s married, I guarantee it.
Good luck on your job search. You may want to look at insurance companies headquartered in Columbus, OH.
March 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm
Rita Powell says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
I have quit 2 jobs because of being bullied at work. The first job that I quit, my manager accused me of having a relationship with a female doctor. I am a married female and would not do that with a male or female doctor or anything else. I told the doctor and quit 2 weeks later. I have since quit another job last April, for once again, the bully card. I returned from a medical leave of 8 weeks after having back surgery. Everything was fine,as long as I didn’t need the group insurance, but once I returned from my leave, I had to take out the group plan at work and ADD my husband to it. Then the bullying started and others in the department were also encouraged to participate. It was only a parttime job and I am credentialed in my field with 15 years experience. I never wanted to work fulltime, but did want benefits. So when it was offered to me, of course I took the parttime position. Also I was the oldest employee in the department with a healthy salary. I have always believed in a honest days work for a honest days pay. It is very hard to move own after being treated this way and now I wish I had contacted an attorney. This is still happening to many good employees that live a life of hell because employers are ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH THIS. On my last day of employment my “Boss” asked me if I would remain as a PRN. Which means work as needed without benefits etc…. my answer was a crisp “no thanks” and a smile. I am 57 years old and my husband is retired. Never again will I ever ever work in a department full of women it’s just not worth it.
March 7, 2013 at 7:52 am
jw says:
Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
I just read an EPL policy that includes bullying in the definition of “Wrongful Act” and is, therefore, covered by this policy. I’m surprised because I don’t expect an insurer to be ahead of the curve. I just wanted to share.
March 9, 2013 at 10:16 am
Insuranceguy423 says:
Like or Dislike:
Great Article and this is a serious issue. I’ve worked the past few years at Travelers and Corporate Bullying runs rampant here. The managers have created an ugly and very stressful working enviroment. Ask anyone who works in the Naperville office.
March 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Agent says:
Like or Dislike:
Insurance guy, I have represented Travelers for the past 10 years. At first, they were the hot rock and were handing the other carriers their head in Personal Lines. Now, all the edicts from on high are negative and how much rate they are taking. They have succeeded in running about a third of their business off in our agency. We keep pleading with them to give us a way to write more business, but they are so proud of their product, it won’t sell. I am fortunate that I have several other markets to go to. Travelers is not our best buddy currently.
March 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm
Deborah says:
Like or Dislike:
I worked for a boss who was a bully. One time I made a minor mistake (I had been out on maternity leave for 6 weeks and did not know a change had been made in how something was done.) He threw a metal index card box at me and I ducked and it hit his fireplace and smashed a brick.
March 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm
Deb says:
Like or Dislike:
wow. It would be about time! There are some people, including insurance agency owners/managers, that have ‘under the table’ drinking issues; rage issues; and volitile bullying tactics. What is a person to do who works in a very small agency, has tolerated the bully for years, and is unable to find comparable salary and benefits outside of hell? Give me, and others, a valid and recognized process for correcting the abuse, and I am all for it. I think the policy makers would be surprised how many people are treated so poorly, even within our industry. Small business owners, who think can they behave so poorly at the expense of employees, need to recognize they have a human obligation to be decent…a long stretch for some.
March 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Agent says:
Like or Dislike:
Deb, there are also employees that have drinking issues, rage issues and bullying tactics. Some are there just to collect their check every 2 weeks without doing their job properly and could care less whether the business succeeds or not. I have been there, done that as an agency owner who has bent over backward to help certain people and they were beyond help so I had to let them go. Some people bring their personal problems to work and it bleeds over into their job performance and that is a real problem.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:42 pm ... lenews_wsj

Updated March 6, 2013, 5:11 p.m. ET
.The Tyranny of the Queen Bee
Women who reached positions of power were supposed to be mentors to those who followed—but something is amiss in the professional sisterhood..

Kelly was a bright woman in her early 30s: whip-smart, well qualified, ambitious—and confused. Even a little frightened.

She worked for a female partner in a big consulting firm. Her boss was so solicitous that Kelly hoped the woman—one of just a few top female partners—might become her mentor. But she began to feel that something was wrong. In meetings, her boss would dismiss her ideas without discussion and even cut her off in mid-sentence. Kelly started to hear about meetings to which she wasn't invited but felt she should be. She was excluded from her boss's small circle of confidants.

What confused Kelly was that she was otherwise doing well at the firm. She felt respected and supported by the other senior partners. She had just one problem, but it was a big one. One of the male partners pulled her aside and confirmed Kelly's suspicions: Her boss had been suggesting to others that Kelly might be happier in a different job, one "more in line with her skills."

I met Kelly while I was conducting research on women in the workplace. She was trying to puzzle through what she had done wrong and what to do about it. (To protect the privacy of Kelly and others in the study, I refer to them here by first names only.) I wasn't sure Kelly had done anything wrong, and I said so. As I told her, "You might have met a queen bee."

Having spent decades working in psychology, a field heavily populated by highly competitive women, I had certainly seen the queen bee before: The female boss who not only has zero interest in fostering the careers of women who aim to follow in her footsteps, but who might even actively attempt to cut them off at the pass.

The term "queen bee syndrome" was coined in the 1970s, following a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan—Graham Staines, Toby Epstein Jayaratne and Carol Tavris—who examined promotion rates and the impact of the women's movement on the workplace. In a 1974 article in Psychology Today, they presented their findings, based on more than 20,000 responses to reader surveys in that magazine and Redbook. They found that women who achieved success in male-dominated environments were at times likely to oppose the rise of other women. This occurred, they argued, largely because the patriarchal culture of work encouraged the few women who rose to the top to become obsessed with maintaining their authority.

Four decades later, the syndrome still thrives, given new life by the mass ascent of women to management positions. This generation of queen bees is no less determined to secure their hard-won places as alpha females. Far from nurturing the growth of younger female talent, they push aside possible competitors by chipping away at their self-confidence or undermining their professional standing. It is a trend thick with irony: The very women who have complained for decades about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by turning on their own.

A 2007 survey of 1,000 American workers released by the San Francisco-based Employment Law Alliance found that 45% of respondents had been bullied at the office—verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority, deliberate destruction of relationships—and that 40% of the reported bullies were women. In 2010, the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national education and advocacy group, reported that female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time—up 9% since 2007. Male bullies, by contrast, were generally equal-opportunity tormentors.

A 2011 survey of 1,000 working women by the American Management Association found that 95% of them believed they were undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. According to a 2008 University of Toronto study of nearly 1,800 U.S. employees, women working under female supervisors reported more symptoms of physical and psychological stress than did those working under male supervisors.

Something is clearly amiss in the professional sisterhood.

Erin, another participant in my own study, was a food writer at a glossy magazine. Her supervisor, Jane, seemed out to get her from day one—though never quite to her face. Jane liked playing hot and cold: One day she would pull Erin close to gossip about another colleague; the next she would scream at her for not following through on a task Erin hadn't known she was expected to perform.

Erin eventually found out that Jane was bad-mouthing her to mutual contacts in the food and restaurant industry. Jane would casually slip barbs into business conversations, telling others, for example, that Erin had engaged in an affair with a married man (she hadn't) or was giving more favorable reviews to restaurant owners who were her friends (she wasn't).

Jane's campaign against Erin wasn't much more than mean-spirited gossiping, but Erin felt that it caused her peers to think of her differently and certainly made her professional life more difficult. But how could she lodge an official complaint? "What would it say?" Erin asked me. "Jane is talking about me behind my back?" At various points, Erin thought the only way to fight back was to play along and start trash-talking Jane. But was that really the solution?

As the old male-dominated workplace has been transformed, many have hoped that the rise of female leaders would create a softer, gentler kind of office, based on communication, team building and personal development. But instead, some women are finding their professional lives dominated by high school "mean girls" all grown up: women with something to prove and a precarious sense of security.

What makes these queen bees so effective and aggravating is that they are able to exploit female vulnerabilities that men may not see, using tactics that their male counterparts might never even notice. Like Jane's gossiping about Erin's personal life. Or when Kelly's boss would comment on her outfit: "Who are you trying to impress today?" Or not-so-gently condescend: "Did you take your smart pill today, sweetie?" Their assaults harm careers and leave no fingerprints.

That is one reason many victims never see such attacks coming—and are powerless to prevent them. In Kelly's case, she had assumed her female boss might want to help foster her growth out of some sense of female solidarity. Erin had specifically sought out working at the magazine because she admired Jane's writing and wanted to learn from her. Why wouldn't Jane be eager to teach? It is women, after all, who are hastening the table-pounding male bullies toward obsolescence.

But both Kelly and Erin's superiors seem to have viewed the women under them not as comrades in arms but as threats to be countered. In a world where there are still relatively few women in positions of power—just 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 16% of boards of directors, as noted in Deborah Rhode and Barbara Kellerman's book "Women and Leadership"—it is an understandable assumption that the rise of one would mean the ouster of another. One for one, instead of one plus one.

Though it is getting easier to be a professional woman, it is by no means easy. Some women—especially in industries that remain male-dominated—assume that their perches may be pulled from beneath them at any given moment (and many times, they are indeed encouraged to feel this way). Made to second-guess themselves, they try to ensure their own dominance by keeping others, especially women, down.

The result is a distinctive strain of negative leadership traits—less overtly confrontational than their domineering male counterparts but bullying just the same. Comments on appearance or dress are part of their repertoire—something that would be seen more obviously as harassment when coming from a man—as are higher, sometimes even unreasonable, expectations for performance. Women who have risen in male-dominated fields may want to tell themselves that their struggle and success were unique. As a result they sometimes treat the performance of females who follow as never quite good enough.

It cuts both ways, though: Women aren't always the best employees to other women either. Female subordinates can show less respect and deference to female bosses than to their male bosses.

A 2007 Syracuse University study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that both men and women were less satisfied with female managers who were not empathetic. In my experience, women also tend to resent female bosses who adopt a brusque and assertive management style, even as they find it perfectly acceptable for male bosses. And so they question and push back, answering authority with attitude.

One woman I encountered in my research, Amanda, faced this problem when she began a new job as a vice president at a Manhattan ad agency. The role was her first in management and included overseeing three women who were her age or younger. She knew she was qualified for the position, but from the very first day, Amanda had a difficult time feeling that she had their respect, or even their attention. Though deferential and solicitous to her male colleagues, they openly questioned Amanda's decisions. They went above her head, made comments about her wardrobe and even refused to say good morning and good night. She felt like she was back in high school, trying to break into an elite clique.

Amanda tried various tactics: being overly authoritative, being their "friend." Eventually she stopped trying to get them to respond or encouraging them to do their jobs as directed. Instead, she fired all three.

Queen bees are creatures of circumstance, encircling potential rivals in much the same way as the immune system attacks a foreign body. Female bosses are expected to be "softer" and "gentler" simply because they are women, even though such qualities are not likely the ones that got them to where they are. In the more cutthroat precincts of American achievement, women don't reach the top by bringing in doughnuts in the morning.

Men use fear as a tool of advancement. Why shouldn't women do the same? Until top leadership positions are as routinely available to women as they are to men, freezing out the competition will remain a viable survival strategy.

—Dr. Drexler is an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and the author, most recently, of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family."
Corrections & Amplifications
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that both men and women were less satisfied with female managers who were not empathetic. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that the study found that women were critical of female bosses who were not empathetic, and gave the incorrect name of the journal. The earlier version also implied that some findings of the author of the article were part of the 2007 study.

A version of this article appeared March 2, 2013, on page C1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Tyranny of the Queen Bee.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:59 pm ... _news_blog

March 4, 2013, 3:59 PM.
Readers Respond: “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee”.
By WSJ Staff

After publishing “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee” in Saturday’s Review section—a look at how women who reach positions of power sometimes use them to keep other women down—we asked readers to write to us about their own experiences of working for a female manager or being a female manager. Below, a sample of the many letters we received.

Dear Editors:

In one of my early jobs at a major money center bank in NYC, I worked for a female director whose “claim to fame” was the fact that she was the daughter of a publishing-house magnate and was dating a famous personality in TV journalism. No disrespect to the publishing industry or to the TV figure, but these references did not in any way prepare her for the responsibilities of management / leadership. Instead, the director was secretive, suspicious, elitist and generally emotionally detached from all of her reports, and the position itself. My parents, in response to my dismay over the director’s shortfalls, wisely advised me to view the situation as yet another learning experience and added that I could learn a lot from her on “how not to manage.” In retrospect, what made this advice so significant was that it did not in any way attribute the director’s shortfalls to her gender but rather to a character flaw. Over the following 30 years, I have worked for both men and women, some gifted in management and leadership, and others not as much. Some younger, some older, in the private and public sector, I’ve tried to apply this sage advice and have hoped to incorporate the admirable traits and practices into my own inventory.

We are, after all, works in progress, and what I learned most from my parents’ advice was to take each supervisor and employee one at a time, problem-solving and trouble-shooting, zigging and zagging as necessary to get the work done, and chalking up the experiences whether good or bad, as “continuing education.” I don’t believe that being ambitious and collaborative are mutually exclusive, and ultimately believe that if we all adopted more of a “shared fate” approach, more of the gender-related and political elements in work would dissipate. We can only hope.




Even though I haven’t been a target of office bullying, I just wanted to add my story to curb the impression that all female managers are catty queen bees.

The relationships I’ve had with my female coworkers and managers have been one of the highlights in my professional experience.

My first job out of college was at a community center for foster children and underprivileged youth, and the program director was a woman in her late 40s, well-experienced in social services. She and all my coworkers—both male and female—all felt very protective of one another, and even when we had our disagreements about how the program should be run, we always respected each other’s opinions.

The job I had after that was at a live-in mental health program for adult women with severe mood disorders. All of the nurses and clinicians were women. I was the only staff person to work the night shift, but I would routinely go out of my way to show up early for my shift, so that I could catch up with the clinicians who left in the evening. Again, they were all very mature, professional staff who looked out for each other. I heard there was one nurse who liked to pick on the younger women, but I was lucky enough not to work with her.

After that job, I went to nursing school, and all of my instructors were women. I ended up with a clinical group of nine women and one man, and we all worked wonderfully as a team—even our clinical instructors told us how impressed they were that we all got along with each other.

One of my clinical instructors was a taskmaster. She cracked the whip over us, and if we didn’t move fast enough, she wouldn’t hesitate to chew us out in front of each other or even in front of the patients. However, it was clear that her intention was to toughen us up and force us to think quickly, because if we didn’t get thick skins by the time we were licensed and working, then the real world was sure to chew us up and spit us out. It’s true that I went home crying after a few shifts because of her brusque manner, I knew that she was teaching me to be a competent nurse. After the two months I had with her, I thanked her for being hard on me and teaching me so much, and she gave me a glowing report, and praised me for my progress.

I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as female bullies—I have a friend who is currently trying to leave her job because her manager is harassing and verbally abusive. But I’m also worried that our conversations about female bullies may be feeding into the misogynistic stereotype that all women are irrational, insecure, and driven by jealousy. Yes, I have definitely met those types in my personal life, but they’re still in the minority.

(No signature)


I have been in business many years and as an entrepreneur had occasion to mentor many employees, male and female. At one point there were 50 employees to supervise, including a cousin and my own mother. My philosophy is to teach people everything you can, and they will be better employees. They will be more productive, and everyone will be happier. Sure, you will lose some to competing jobs, but you can live with yourself. After 30 years I still have people introducing me as their mentor—that is a wonderful feeling, even though none of those people still work for me. They have their own businesses now, and I am so proud of them. All of that said, it is easier to work with men than women. I don’t know why.



I enjoyed your article. As a chief operating officer of a small financial services company, I find it appalling that women still do not want to help other women and in many egregious situations, they go to the extent as to bully other women who they fear are a threat. In addition, I think women are so focused on competing with men for a seat at the table, that the last thing they want to do is to help another woman who they view as someone who could potentially take their seat.

Most of my career has been spent in male-dominated industries—construction and engineering. In my career as a leader, I have always focused on surrounding myself with smart, driven, and capable staff; I have often recruited women for these roles—who can perform their roles better than I am able. A strong leader should always have a goal of training/mentoring others, to fill the seat left behind as he or she moves to other roles in/outside an organization.

I think females in positions of power should stop focusing so heavily on themselves and their own pursuits and focus on mentoring/training other women, so that we make room for other women at the top. This way, women leaders can step back and take a breath, and reap the rewards of what other smart women have to contribute. Perhaps women will realize that having a support system of other intelligent women at the top may not be a bad idea after all.



I am both shocked and disgusted at the destructive, horrifically discriminatory article that you published entitled “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee.” What a pathetic disservice to all women! It is hard enough to be a successful woman in business, without this ignorant article giving validity to yet another name acceptable to label women with. Any other minority on the planet would be protected from the offense of being labeled or categorized. What about calling out the horrible actions of men and putting it in the same article calling out their behavior, not their gender? How dare you!

The playing field is still not even close to being even. Your article is attacking the management style of all successful women, who are already under twice the scrutiny that men are under. Women are expected to make nonemotional business decisions like men, and then are criticized when they don’t turn around and be that soft little girl when someone walks through the door, wanting to please everyone and be everybody’s friend. It is a task that your author, a psychologist interviewing women, has apparently never had any real-life experience with. I expect that the story would take on a whole different “real world” feel if she lived it rather than spouting statistics in support of her views.

There is no call whatsoever to call successful women in management “Queen Bees,” irregardless of their management strategy. You owe women everywhere an apology, both those aspiring to advance in business, those who are successful in business, those who are stay at home Moms, those who are students, those who are retired, and everyone in between. Everyone of those women could be called a Queen Bee in their home, volunteering in organizations, in their job, or anywhere else they fill a leadership position.

Women are the most acceptable minority to be openly bullied in our society and you, the Wall Street Journal, just poured gasoline on the fire. Way to go!



Dear Ms. Drexler:

It’s hard to say “enjoy,” but I did read with interest your article in the March 2 WSJ. I can honestly say, been there, done that.

I’ve come in contact with a number of “queen bees” in my 25-plus years of working, but one stands out in memory. Ten years ago or so, I was working for an insurance company that had differing degrees of employee appreciation. (It depended on whom you were working for.) One day I went to work and discovered that the nice Englishman was leaving to go to another company, and a woman, who was friends with the first male manager, would be brought in to replace him. Great!

Her queen-bee instincts kicked in very quickly. Shortly after the queen bee moved in, another female manager left abruptly, taking her own secretary with her. I did more than what I was asked to, but it was never enough, because it was “not how M—–” would do it (her former secretary who apparently had a halo). It was also clear that I had more computer/technical skills than she did—something that didn’t go over well with either manager.

I always thought it was because she was a bit older than I, since she was from New York and believed Texans are nothing but hillbillies, and seemed to come from the school of thought that managers should “push ’em around and show them who’s boss.” Obviously, she’s not the only one; I’ve come into contact with a few since then, just none as nasty.

Shortly after I left, they brought in a temporary worker who was eventually hired on; she lasted about a year or two, and was treated in the same unprofessional manner I was, and quit. While the temp was there, these two managers attempted to poach someone from another department by taking her to lunch. Knowing about the queen bee, she declined, and was greeted with a nasty remark. And still, the queen bee had no idea why she had a hard time getting people to work for her.

One thing you have to remember: People make friends, and people will tell stuff to others, including former employees. Watch how you treat your underlings. It could be your undoing. Last I heard, the queen bee was gone from the company, but the company’s culture is pretty much the same. At the time, it was devastating, but that same employee they were trying to steal away reminded me that it was no shame to be fired from said company.

Thanks for the article.



I worked for a Queen Bee and chose to retire early (at 56), even though I loved my work and my co-workers. I was the director of a subgroup in the office, with two staffers I supervised. When I was hired, the hiring final decision was made by a group/committee that oversaw my unit. The Queen Bee made it known she did not want me hired; I was not her choice. From then on she made life miserable.

This “department head” of an educational unit would be hard on workers but made friends (buttered up men with compliments or did things that made the men look better). This Queen Bee was an expert wordsmith and could make herself look good in written reports. The turnover in the clerical staff (three women) was very large. One woman chose to stick it out because she needed the health benefits to support herself and two children. The harassment went on for years, even though the clerical woman complained to her union and filed complaints against the Queen Bee within the county governmental unit. Over a period of 10 years, this clerical woman lost her self-worth and had a nervous breakdown. She given a written excuse by doctors to be absent, but in the end was fired.

I was so happy to be out of that situation. Even though I could have worked longer and increased my retirement benefits—it was NOT worth it.

My migraine headaches went away.



Peggy, you are my hero.

It is about time someone blows the whistle on women bosses who deliberately treat female subordinates in a demoralizing manner. It is a modern day silent epidemic. As a teenager, I remember seeing feminists on TV telling stories about a workplace where their job was to serve coffee. That injustice is thriving today in the American workplace, but now it is perpetrated by women in power against other women. I worked for a Queen Bee who in management meetings called me “pumpkin,” and ordered me to take meeting notes. I was horrified to learn that she believed the “A” in my MBA meant “Administrative Assistant.”

Thank you for writing this article, and thanks to the Wall Street Journal for publishing it. Good work!



I’ve been on both sides of the desk. I’ve had to hold my own with women bosses who spoke with clenched jaws and smiles that even a baby wouldn’t trust, and I had to make sure I didn’t become a Queen Bee in my executive positions. I’d rather pass on what I learned than tell war stories. I hope the following tips are helpful. Not all of them will fit your situation, and you always have to keep in mind your work culture.

What I learned about dealing with a Queen Bee:

1.Confirm the task. At first, to keep my sanity and avoid the “You didn’t tell me that/Yes, I did” dilemma, I wrote down in brief my boss’s words while she was speaking to me. Just the act of writing prompted my boss to be clear. Then I would read it back to her and get corrections. Writing down the assignment raised questions that I needed to address on the spot, such as knowing whom else to include or consult. I used a similar approach if her communication was in an email.
2.Help your boss reduce her anxiety. I discovered that the benefit of confirming the task was that it reassured my boss that she would end up looking good. So, while I reviewed the assignment with her, I also offered some preliminary solutions by saying things such as: “We can bring Bob in on this if we need community support,” or “This is a perfect job for me—I’ve already got ideas how we can save time.” I discovered that speaking these ideas out loud had a calming effect on my boss. A calm boss is a nicer boss.
3.Keep a record of your progress and accomplishment. The other unexpected advantage of writing the task was the idea of keeping a written journal of my work. I sent my boss succinct and timely updates, which automatically created a work journal of my accomplishment and success. I then kept a second journal for myself to use for future positions at my existing or new company. I also knew that if there were ever a disagreement or poor evaluation, I had a record. Queen Bees may always be jealous of their worker bees, but these Queens also love to buzz with success. After all, they most likely have bosses, too.
4.Don’t gossip. I hate gossip about me, and I’ve worked hard not to say things about others that I wouldn’t say in front of the person. It’s not easy being friendly to all and friend to none, but over time, I learned that this neutrality had its advantages. For one thing, your collegial worker bee might one day be your boss. Instead of participating with my colleagues’ criticisms of someone, I used the incident to play it forward and work toward a solution. For example, when others were talking about Sue’s over the top efforts to please, I said that I did find something she did that could help our department. I soon found myself to be one of the most trusted persons in the office.
5.Take charge of your personal life, and don’t reveal your deep problems. The flip side of not gossiping is not unfurling your life story to everyone. Keep your most troubling issues to yourself so that you still appear competent. The gossip about your weaknesses and your bad home life has a way of flying around the office and getting to your Queen Bee boss. Practice positive management of your impression. Aim to strike a balance between seeming aloof or out of control of your life. Pick less negative things to reveal, especially if they have a way of making you appear good. For instance, when I was deeply troubled about my sibling’s health and career problems, I told some of my colleagues. I didn’t intend to say things about me, but as I was describing his victimization and mismanagement, I remarked that I was the one he came to for emotional support, and that I was always so surprised at our differences. In the office, others saw me as both empathic and competent.
6.Don’t put all your work-eggs in the one basket of your job. I found out that you never know when you might lose your job. When I was working for a social service agency, the agency’s grant was not renewed. I was single, self-supporting, and I did not have any parental safety net. Luckily, I found another job right away. I learned to cast my professional network wide. I attended professional meetings, sought mentors from various disciplines, and volunteered for a charity that another and highly desirable company sponsored. I learned one day about an opening at that company, and since some of the higher level staff knew me from my volunteer work, I got the job. I realized that establishing other employment contacts reduced my own anxiety and any tendency to make behavioral mistakes such as gossiping or revealing my unhappiness at work.
7.Read. Learn from experts in the field about how to manage your work and people behavior. I especially like Tonya Reiman’s books on reading people, and David Lieberman’s books about influencing others and managing conflict.
By the time I became an administrator and executive, I learned the following top things about not becoming a Queen Bee.

1.Don’t become a friend or foe. There were times when I really wanted to become friends with a few of the women whom I supervised. But I knew that knowing important details about each other’s lives could affect our work relationship. For example, I might have not been as thorough about my feedback to them.
2.Don’t overcorrect any innate tendencies to be too empathic—or too insecure about your position in the company. I learned from my other experiences as a worker bee that Queen Bees are, at heart, very insecure women. They often managed their fears of making mistakes or being excluded from promotion and executive camaraderie by over-correcting their insecurity and their needs for approval and social connectedness. In my new administrative positions, I strived to maintain my usual warmth, to keep boundaries, and to be mindful of my own behavior.
3.Be clear. Bad bosses are not clear. I hated not knowing what my Queen Bee boss wanted. I made sure to explain or write out what I needed and when.
4.Give smart feedback. When I was just part of the staff, I appreciated bosses who gave me honest and true examples of what I could have done better or differently. This kind of evaluation allowed my boss to be a boss but also a mentor. The emphasis shifted ever so slightly from receiving only criticism about me to receiving ways to improve. I didn’t feel the temptation to defend myself. As a boss, I vowed to be clear about what I didn’t like and to mention those things at the very beginning. I closed with suggestions and positive comments.
5.Lead with wisdom not authority. My best teachers’ wisdom was compelling, motivating, and less anxiety-producing. I trusted that my own experiences with bad bosses, my confidence, expertise, and success formed a far more effective foundation than power. I didn’t have to arm up, nor protect against being too friendly , too remote or too harsh.
Hope what I learned helps.
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Re: Allstate Protects Their Bullies

Unread postby RatPak11 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:10 am ... ying-boss/

How To Deal With A Bullying Boss
9/20/2013 @ 3:01PM
Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff

The prevalence of bullying on the playground, the Internet, in classrooms and dormitories is a serious problem in the U.S. right now–but children, teens and young adults aren’t the only ones using aggressive physical force, threats or coercion to intimidate and abuse their peers.

According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of the American workforce (or 53.5 million people) has directly experienced bullying–or “repeated mistreatment by one or more employees that takes the form of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation or sabotage of work performance”–while an additional 15% said they have witnessed bullying at work. Approximately 72% of those bullies are bosses.

“Bullying in the workplace is similar to the school playground in that people are being demeaned or exploited,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “But in the office, bullying is far more subversive and challenging to overcome, as these grown bullies are adept at finding non-assertive victims and staying under the radar.”

Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, and host of the YouTube channel FromGradToCorp, says there is “a lot of bullying by bosses that goes on in the workplace—and the more years you work, the greater chance you have of encountering it.” He says these are probably the same people who bullied their classmates in the schoolyard. “They have a need to push people around to get their way and if no one stood up to them in school, then they have no reason to stop their bullying now in the business world.”

Taylor explains that there are different types of “bullying bosses.” On the more extreme end of the spectrum, there are those who throw tirades and intimidate employees continuously; some are even guilty of sexual harassment, she says. “Their behavior is nefarious enough to warrant termination and legal ramifications.” At the other end of the spectrum you’ll find the covert bully; the much more rampant, fear-provoking boss, who acts out episodically. “On Monday he’s Mr. Nice Guy and on Tuesday he’s Attila the Hun. These bosses with bullying tendencies are masters at pushing you to the limit without giving you enough fodder to pursue legal action. For example, they may attempt to disguise their demeaning and discourteous behavior with levity, saying, ‘Oh, I was just joking,’ or ‘You’re too sensitive. You know you’re doing a great job.’”

Teach agrees that there are many ways in which a boss or supervisor can bully his or her staff. “It could be by yelling at them if the employee doesn’t please the boss. It could be by constantly threatening them; always telling the employee that their job is at stake. It could be by embarrassing them by constantly criticizing them in front of their co-workers. It could be by putting the employee in an uncomfortable position; giving them an order that puts the employee’s job or reputation in jeopardy. And sometimes bullying can be less obvious. The bullying boss may simply ignore the employee or not include them in meetings anymore.”

Gary Namie, PhD, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, says these are the 25 most common tactics adopted by bullies, according to targeted victims:

1.Falsely accusing someone of “errors” not actually made.
2.Staring, glaring, being nonverbally intimidating and clearly showing hostility.
3.Discounting the person’s thoughts or feelings (“oh, that’s silly”) in meetings.
4.Using the “silent treatment” to “ice out” and separate from others.
5.Exhibiting presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group.
6.Making up own rules on the fly that even she/he does not follow.
7.Disregarding satisfactory or exemplary quality of completed work despite evidence.
8.Harshly and constantly criticizing having a different ‘standard’ for the target.
9.Starting, or failing to stop, destructive rumors or gossip about the person.
10.Encouraging people to turn against the person being tormented.
11.Singling out and isolating one person from co-workers, either socially or physically.
12.Publicly displaying “gross,” undignified, but not illegal, behavior.
13.Yelling, screaming, and throwing tantrums in front of others to humiliate a person.
14.Stealing credit for work done by others.
15.Abusing the evaluation process by lying about the person’s performance.
16.Rebelling for failing to follow arbitrary commands.
17.Using confidential information about a person to humiliate privately or publicly.
18.Retaliating against the person after a complaint was filed.
19.Making verbal put-downs/insults based on gender, race, accent or language, disability.
20.Assigning undesirable work as punishment.
21.Making undoable demands– workload, deadlines, duties — for person singled out.
22.Launching a baseless campaign to oust the person.
23.Encouraging the person to quit or transfer rather than to face more mistreatment.
24.Sabotaging the person’s contribution to a team goal and reward.
25.Ensuring failure of person’s project by not performing required tasks: signoffs, taking calls, working with collaborators.

“All of these forms of bullying are problematic,” says Anne Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace. “Bullies suck the air out of offices, destroying camaraderie, robbing work of normal satisfactions, and demoting workers from bringing their best performance to the job. Bullies turn work into a fearful gauntlet to run each day. And there’s no question that working in unfair conditions will create a level of anxiety and stress, of powerlessness, that will infiltrate personal life.”

Taylor agrees. She says bullying behavior, whether it’s your boss or coworker, dampens enthusiasm and innovation. “Management by fear never works; respect rules the day for optimal results,” she says. “A bullying boss can also affect your personal life because the anxiety can affect your health. The conflict is that you’re torn between speaking up and potentially jeopardizing your job, and suffering in silence.”

An earlier online study by the Workplace Bullying Institute explored the impact of bullying on the targets’ health. Upon asking respondents to complete a 33-item symptoms checklist, WBI found that the top five health problems among those bullied at work are: anxiety (76%), loss of concentration (71%), disrupted sleep (71%), hypervigilance symptoms (60%), and stress headaches (55%).

“Workplace bullying by a boss can have many negative effects on an employee,” Teach adds. “It could severely impact the employee’s morale–so much so that the employee doesn’t even want to come in to work anymore. Bullying can bring on depression, self-doubt, and can lower an employee’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, these characteristics can carry over to an employee’s personal life, as well. If we’re depressed at work then there’s a good chance we’ll be depressed at home, too. It ‘s unfortunate that bullying bosses either don’t know or don’t care how much of a negative impact they have on their employees.”

Assuming you’re dealing with a bully of the “manageable variety”–with episodic flare-ups, versus a lawsuit-worthy bully–here’s how to manage up, according to Taylor and Teach:

Intervene early. Pay close attention to early warning signs that your usually mild-mannered boss is about to morph into a bully, Taylor says. “If you know your boss resorts to bullying under stress, try to minimize the stress factors. Has he had a bad day? Postpone unnecessary meetings until the coast is clear. Was he pushed around by his boss, or by a client? When in doubt, if you notice a warning sign, get out of the way. Just as you shouldn’t stick your face near the snout of a snarling dog, you should remove yourself from the path of a manic bully until things cool off.”

Set limits. Don’t be a martyr and work unreasonable hours or accept discourteous behavior. You won’t do yourself or your company any good, Taylor says. “Being able to say ‘no’ can be quite liberating, and might even earn you some respect from your bully boss.”

Speak to your co-workers. Is your boss only bullying you or do they do it to all of their employees? If you’re the only one being bullied, is it because you’re not doing your job properly or is it something personal? It may be simply that your boss doesn’t like you. Ask your co-workers for advice on how to handle the situation, Teach suggests.

Use positive reinforcement. When your bullying boss treats you with respect, thank her for her kindness, Taylor says. “Tell her how she inspires you to work hard whenever she’s positive and polite.” Become a role model of good citizenship yourself, displaying unwavering courtesy to your boss. If you have to, overdo it to send the message. “Never fight fire with fire; don’t act like a bully in response to bullying.”

Be a good role model. Setting a good example of the demeanor you want your boss to emulate can help. “Praising another’s work, giving credit and remaining calm when your boss can’t, will help your boss better see the light,” Taylor says.

Speak to your Human Resources department. When all else fails, speak to your HR department, Teach says. “Keep in mind that while they will listen to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will take action or will be on your side. If your boss gets results, HR may overlook their bullying tactics. I’ve personally seen an example of several people leaving a department over time because of a bullying supervisor until that supervisor was finally fired. Where was HR during this mass exodus? I do believe that HR departments need to be much more proactive in preventing workplace bullying.”

If your boss is abusive, garner support. If your boss truly is out-of-control, bordering on abusive, seek assistance from coworkers, other managers and/or outside council. “You need support through this process,” Taylor explains. “If confronting your bully boss directly is not an option, go to a higher-level manager or a human resources manager and present your concerns. Be honest, and be prepared to give examples of the abusive, bullying behavior. It usually takes more than one person to topple a bully but, with outside support, you have a chance.” If all else fails and the job is simply untenable, then it’s time to visit your favorite job board and start networking.

Namie says confronting the boss is “rarely effective and ill-advised.” In early 2012, WBI asked 1,598 individuals who were personally familiar with workplace bullying what strategies they adopted to get their bullying to stop, and whether those actions were effective. Here’s what they said:

1.About 38% of bullied employees essentially did nothing. In other words, he or she let time pass, hoping matters would improve on their own. Effectiveness of doing nothing: 3.25%
2.About 70% of employees directly confronted the perpetrator. Effectiveness of confronting: 3.57%
3.About 71% of bullied employees asked the perpetrator’s boss to intervene and stop it. Effectiveness of seeking support from bully’s boss: 3.26%
4.About 74% told senior management/owner, expecting support.
Effectiveness of seeking support from senior management/owners: 3.69%
5.About 60% of those in unions asked their union to intervene and stop it.
Effectiveness: 8.84%
6.About 43% of employees filed a formal complaint with HR alleging a policy violation. Effectiveness of telling HR: 4.7%
7.About 19% filed a complaint with an external state or federal agency. Effectiveness of filing a complaint with EEOC, etc.: 11.9%
8.About 34% of bullied workers tried to find an attorney to file a lawsuit.
Effectiveness of finding an attorney: 11.2%
9.About 9%, or 379 respondents, did file a lawsuit. Effectiveness of filing a lawsuit: 16.4%

“Employers are responsible for all work conditions and the assignment of workers to supervisors,” Namie says. “So, employers can stop workplace bullying if they wanted to. No laws yet compel action or policies, so all employer actions would be voluntary.” About 68% of executives think workplace bullying is a serious problem—but few organizations (5.5%) are doing anything about it.

The bottom line is that if you’re being bullied at work, and your employer isn’t doing anything about it, “you owe it to yourself to do what you can to try and stop it,” Teach adds. “If you fail, you should give yourself credit for at least trying to improve the situation. At that point, you have the choice to stay or leave. You should make the decision that’s best for you.”

Taylor agrees. She says “your best option is to decide whether you want to manage up with your bully boss, or bow out.” What is your tolerance level, and what are the pros and cons of the job overall? “You must weigh the level of discomfort with your ability to be assertive, and also take a hard look at the big picture.”



• Hyacinth Smith
• Put end to bullying! we have voice to speak up we have feet to stand up!let us be brave don’t let others step on us we are equal accept our imperfection. Always remember that if you are good or better than others don’t use it as an advantage to make fun of others instead make this an inspiration to learn by others. You are a concern to make a difference together join us to spread protection security.@!/page_home.

• John
• Excellent article. I have a few of these bullying types in my job, and have been on the verge of quitting over it several times. Their “jokes” are mean-spirited and ultimate put-downs. My direct boss’s way of dealing with staff hits several numbers on the Institute scale. He has a great reputation as being effective in his area of expertise, but is completely clueless on how to supervise or motivate any of us. For me, managing-up is the best piece of guidance. I’m onto their little game now, and realize it’s them not me, especially after talking to colleagues. So I do get support. Thanks for the advice.

• Victor Lipman, Contributor
• Nice article. Good topic and good thorough treatment, as always. Unfortunately these dynamics are probably more prevalent than they should be. I’m sure this piece will be helpful to many…

• Linda A. Hamilton
• Great article and so true. I experienced two bullying bosses in my workplace and within my team. Two acting out several of your behaviors to the point of literally destroying the confidence of an entire team. Several people quit or transferred to other departments, while others coped. Perhaps the greatest shock for me was when a boss called and literally screamed at me over the phone following an action he told me to take, that turned out to be the wrong action.
Bullying in the workplace happens a lot, you’re right. These are great tips to give someone ideas to make wise decisions and choose how to effectively deal with their situation to make change. In many ways, the mental and emotional abuse is similar to being in an abusive relationship–only you get paid for this one and you have an easier out. Great ideas to make wise decisions and better choices.

• mostinterested
• Great useful article on a very important subject that affects me a lot. Really helpful.

• Disqus
• Sometimes it better to just find another job. I went on sick leave many years ago because of an abusive boss and then was able to find a less stressful job within the company (at a much lower salary). It was a lose-lose situation. But at least the stress didn’t give me a heart attack and cause my early demise.

• andrew7
• I think I can safely say that most of my bosses act like this at some point during the week…ugh. I feel like I have more power to react after reading this. Lynn Taylor’s book promises to be helpful.

• adoptionrecordsws
• Bullying is a serious issue and it is seen that instead of protesting, people criticize themselves. So, it is your time to protest it. Be confident. Be wise There is huge opportunity there. You just need to open your eyes, put your head up and nothing else. I wish Jacquelyn Smith huge thanks for raising such issue. It is really true that every day, hundreds of thousands of employees are humiliated and left their work with penniless confidence.
• + expand 2 comments

o Lorna Blumen
Thanks for tackling this tough subject! In addition to the many costs of adult workplace bullying enumerated here and more, adult bullying is a terrible example for kids. Failing to stop workplace bullying is the same as accepting it, even when we are “just” targets or bystanders.
We are teaching our kids to expect and accept being bullied at work when they grow up, and to aspire to become the bully, because the bully becomes the boss. This message is reinforced in reality shows (Donald Trump in The Apprentice, Gordon Ramsay in Hell’s Kitchen, etc). We can learn a lot about business and food from Trump and Ramsay (did you know that Ramsay holds nine Michelin stars for his restaurants worldwide?). Why do we choose to learn bullying from them?
The longer we tolerate adult or kids’ bullying, the longer we look the other way, the more the damage will escalate, and the harder it will be to clean up our homes, schools, workplaces, and communities.
Lorna Blumen

o Jassen Sanders
o Any harmful things happened has a definite reason and a solution. And bullied cases nowadays were rapidly increasing due to lack of communication from parents to their kids. And as a mother, I am preparing myself to deal with this issue, to avoid my kids from being bullied and to help them deal as well from any bullies.Thus, I was searching sites that will help me know what to do about bullying issues and an Apps that can guard my loved ones in case of any emergencies. Then I found this link that talks about securing every family in modern way. You can also check that link for your own good.

• Jassen Sanders
• Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for children to learn to stick up for themselves. However, bullying can make children feel frightened and think that there must be something wrong with them. As a parents, we can protect them through recognizing the signs of bullying and provide them the right protection. So I thought of looking up for safety sevice that would do so, and luckily, I read an article with cool safety application that alerts you when your kids in trouble and can even get escalated to the nearest 911 with just a click. Check this out:
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