Nearly everyone knows a workplace bully, whether they’re outright harassing you and your work or using subtle means to discredit your output—you rarely hear human resources and management handle such matters adequately. If anything, one of the most prevalent yet rarely tackled topics is how to handle your workplace bully.
Outwit the Bully Summary:
In Dawn M. Johnson’s “Outwit the Workplace Bully,” she emphasizes this sad truth: The bullies rarely change.
If you’re looking for tips on how to get along with your bully or exact revenge, you may need to look elsewhere.
“Outwit the Workplace Bully: 8 Steps You Need to Know to Reclaim Your Career, Confidence, and Sanity” aims to give you the power to move on from the experience of these types of people. By enhancing your “Bully Intelligence,” you will learn to spot behaviors quickly, apply practical tips listed in the book, and pick yourself up from the ground.
Considering that the author has experience with two workplace bullies, it’s safe to say that her knowledge and expertise are valuable and irreplaceable. Here are some tips we can learn from this worthwhile read:
1. Most workplace bully tactics are covert.
It is easy to equate bullying with threats, aggression, and harshness. However, that is not the only bullying behavior out there.
Aside from direct aggression, bullying tactics like manipulating your performance review and making passive-aggressive comments are usually the first step to this insidious act. Said bully may even spread lies and rumors about you to management and HR, thus soiling your reputation before you have a chance to notice.
2. There are different types of bullies.
The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) identified four workplace bully categories. The author labels them according to the following with these characteristics:
a. The Screamer
The Screamer is the bully we all know and recognize. They wear their aggression like a badge of honor and use their position to publicly scream, humiliate, and degrade a person. While these types are well-known, they are the rarest workplace bully type.
b. The Critic
The Critic is a bully who hides their cutting words and biting remarks behind a thin veil of criticism. They insist they provide “constructive criticism” yet provide little to no suggestions or solutions. To these people, nothing is ever good enough while they provide unfair performance reviews.
c. The Deceiver
This type is the most difficult to detect because they are very subtle. While many deceivers appear friendly and pleasant, they have a sinister side that loves to gossip behind your back and tell others of your “incompetence.”
They also make the right connections and alliances and love pitting co-workers against each other. The sad truth is that victims of this bully type do not know someone is undermining them until it is too late.
d. The Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper is like the Deceiver because they also use subtle tactics to undermine your work. Gatekeepers impede your career process by withholding essential resources like time and information. When confronted, they may make an excuse that they “forgot.”
While these are the four main bully types, these types are not mutually exclusive and can overlap in characteristics. Fortunately, the book offers tips on how to recognize each one.
3. Your emotional and verbal responses are examined under a microscope.
Bullies have their reasons for targeting someone, many of which are irrational. While it’s certainly unfair to be the one always to take the high road, sometimes you must understand that your future and potential job options are on the line.
You must be vigilant with your emotional and verbal response when this unfortunate event happens. To a bully, any response that shows you are bothered only fuels their agenda. The tone of your words may also be misconstrued, so make sure to respond calmly and neutrally.
4. It is never your fault.
Many believe they deserve to be bullied because they did something wrong. The book does a great job of emphasizing the ultimate truth: It is never your fault. Bullies choose to be bullies, even if they have a rough life or bad experience. While their justification for such behaviors is understandable, it is simply inexcusable, and you do not deserve that.
Takeaway: Outwit the Workplace by Dawn M. Johnson is a practical yet kind guide on picking yourself up when a bully does their best to keep you down. Aside from learning to detect bully types, it also gives tips on protecting your career, disarming your bully with emotional resilience, and rebuilding your confidence.