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The Craft & Power of the Office Bully

There is no denying that even the most confident person will find it difficult at times to traverse the occasional bully trap – baited, stalked and hunted down as carrion by the deliberate grizzly bear in the office (playground or home).

A classic example of this type of bullying in action can be like watching a professional heavyweight boxer dismember a lesser journeyman:

  1. Separate the weaker prey from the agile pack
  2. Apply sarcasm or minor ridicule to make them falter (or run)
  3. Instantly jump on stumbles or justifications without quarter
  4. Eat the office carrion among an elated ecstatic (or quietly complicit) cohort

The problem is that as strong as we feel and as confident or well educated as we become it’s rather easy for a professional heavyweight bully to dismember us. Our self-belief is heavily invested in the people around us – including strangers and those we dislike or fear.

And that’s all the craft that the bully needs to know – peer pressure doesn’t stop at our High School graduation. It seamlessly migrates into the workplace, the home and the local hotel.

So when you are awake at 3am thinking about all the smart things you should have replied in the initial phase of your dismemberment I want you to consider one simple thing. It doesn’t matter what you would have replied at that point; even if you had calmly explained the rationale behind their strategy and if you had tried to move away to higher moral ground… by that stage they would have devoured you anyway. With ridicule. Repetition. Sarcasm. And by massaging the group dynamic.

The same tactics are rife on school buses across the country every weekday.

All you can do (beyond lodging a complaint) is stop seeing yourself as a bullying victim and reposition the event as a bullying experience. Victim does as much to steal your personal power as does the school mentality of group complicity that it rides through the office on. In my experience, that bully has also invested heavily in becoming integral to the manager’s in-group. That’s bully-craft 101. That’s a part of step 1: Separate the weaker prey from the agile pack (only eat the out-group).

Because just like rape isn’t about sex, bullying isn’t about pushing you into a toilet urinal. And they are both about (Big P) Power. Only, the first seems to draw a moral outrage that the second can’t elicit. But sit in a post-bullying tea room. Somebody was raped. Figuratively. Communally. And everybody in that room knows it.

It could be the CEO, a colleague or the office joker. It could be the postman that arrives every afternoon at 3pm with a jab in the stomach. It’s not about what they do to you but how you feel about the experience. That’s the Power of the bully.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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