Dealing with Workplace Bullies

Chances are good that you may have run into a bully during
your career. In fact, some researchers claim that 1 in
every 3 employees will experience bullying at work.

Bullies are now being recognized as productivity killers
besides potential legal threats. Experts now estimate
bullying costs businesses more than $200 billion per year.

Workplace bullying can result in:
*Decreased morale and loyalty.
*Increased workers’ compensation claims.
*Reduced productivity and profitability.
*Legal costs from employees who bring lawsuits.
*Increased costs due to recruitment and retraining.
*Higher absenteeism, sick time, and employee turnover.

According to Anton Hout, founder of,
there are eight types of bullies:

1. The Screaming Mimi is the loud and obnoxious person who
berates and humiliates people. This person thrives on the
notion that others fear him/her.

2. The Two-Headed Snake acts like a trusted friend or
colleague, but when a co-worker is out of earshot, this
person will destroy that colleague’s reputation, stab him
in the back, and even take credit for his work.

3. The Constant Critic has the goal of destroying other
people’s confidence through constant, and often
unwarranted, criticism.

4. The Gatekeeper denies others the tools they need to do
their jobs efficiently.

5. The Attention Seeker wants to be the center of the
action at all times. This bully is often overly dramatic
and relates everything to something that’s going wrong in
their own lives to garner sympathy and control.

6. The Wannabe is an employee who sees him/herself as
indispensable and expects recognition for everything.
Wannabes will demand that everything is done their way,
even when others have a better way of doing something.
Because they are automatically opposed to others’ ideas,
they’ll do everything in their power to prevent changes to
their work processes.

7. The Guru is typically lacking in emotional maturity.
Gurus see themselves as being superior to co-workers. As
a result, they don’t consider how their actions will
affect others, aren’t able to fathom the possibility that
they can be wrong and don’t accept responsibility for
their own actions. They don’t always feel compelled to
follow the same rules as everyone else.

8. The Sociopath is intelligent, well-spoken, charming,
charismatic, and is the most destructive bully. He/she
has no empathy for others, yet they are experts at
manipulating the emotions of others in order to get what
they want. Sociopaths tend to surround themselves with a
circle of lackeys who are willing to do their dirty work
in exchange for moving up the ranks with them.

HR POINTER: Bullying isn’t illegal unless the behaviors
exhibited by the bully escalate into harassment of a
protected group.

The best defense a company can have against workplace
bullying is a clearly worded policy that prohibits any
type of bullying behavior and quick management action when
bullying activity is observed.

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2 Responses to Dealing with Workplace Bullies

  1. Jose Z. says:

    I really like this article. God knows, I have worked with many individuals and groups that fit the characteristics of each point listed above. These kind of articles really put emphasis on putting people on notice regarding their behaviors in the professional environment. Really informative.

  2. Grant H. says:

    This article is very helpful in identifying the different types of bullies by their main mode of distruction. I have found that the subversive ones are the most damaging in that they don’t even have the courage to make their own noise. So cowardly are these individuals that they stir the pot and then stand back and revel in the harm they cause.

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