Friday, November 14, 2014

Surviving Workplace Bullying: More of the story - the second possible serial bully

It's amazing how many things I can think to write about, the words freely flowing from my brain, when I'm otherwise occupied.  On the bus.  In the workplace.  Knitting.  Oh! My mind does some of it's best work when my hands are occupied with needles and yarn.  Too bad I can't plug a USB port from my mind into my computer so I can both at the same time.  Sigh.

Yet when it comes to looking at that blank page, my mind freezes.  Stops entirely.  All the creative juices totally halted.

My mind has been occupied lately not so much with what I experienced in the workplace as the research I just uncovered this week regarding serial bullying.  I always suspected that I had been targeted by serial bullies but could never prove it.  Part of the reason is that the only way it can be proven that a person is a serial bully is by discovering the patterns.  Another part of the problem was that if I did try to speak up, I was constantly dismissed by being told that these were just my "perceptions" and "assumptions" and, therefore, had no validity (the lie I've written about in earlier posts).

In addition, I felt based on my experience in the workplace that those "investigating" the problem were too closely involved and allied with those whom I have identified as serial bullies in the workplace.  Imagine how validated I now feel three plus years later when I see my "assumptions and perceptions" being corroborated when I read the following  section in the Bully Online article entitled "Behaviour of the Serial Bully" which web page I've also linked to an earlier post this week. (Emphasis on certain phrases are mine.)
Virtual Immunity from CorrectionSerial Bullying at work is unlikely to lead to an arrest or even disciplinary proceedings because their most common offences don't involve physical violence or are shrouded in doubt: The serial bully can explain away just about anything, and frequently blames others and distracts attention from the real issues. Few would have the patience to investigate as incisively as necessary. Finding someone with the courage and integrity to investigate impartially is even harder. Any investigator, whether an internal employee or director, or an external investigator, may well fear of adverse consequences from upholding a complaint about a serial bully, the potential consequences being personal (e.g. damage to their own career prospects, not being paid etc.) and corporate (e.g. identifying evidence of actions for which the organisation is vicariously liable).
The writer has studied the results of several investigations into alleged bullying, conducted by internal and external "investigators". Only one was objective and thorough. Of the remainder, the best was superficial in the extreme, with the worst ones obviously intended to destroy the complainants' reputations. Only the objective investigation correctly identified the root of the problem.
One possible explanation for investigators and fellow managers being so easily manipulated by a serial bully appears in a research paper by Clive R Boddy, entitled "Corporate Psychopaths, Bullying and Unfair Supervision in the Workplace" (2011):
"The cold-heartedness and manipulativeness of the psychopath are reported to be the traits that are the least discernable to others and this allows them to gain other people’s confidence and facilitates their entry into positions where they can gain most benefit for themselves and do harm to others (Mahaffey and Marcus, 2006)."

Did you notice how in the last quote, these authors, Mahaffey and Marcus 2006, identified serial bullies as psychopaths?

Scary, isn't it?

Did you also noticed how the "serial bully can explain away anything"?  Which I take to include being how one person could go through approximately six people in an approximately two year period of time.  Not to mention how many people had come and gone in that position previously.

These are all things I've learned in the process.  Things I didn't know then.  If I had, I might have done things differently.  A lot differently.

Also, if I'd been as far along on the path of recovery as I am now, I would have had more strength to do things differently especially with the knowledge I have now.  I wouldn't have put up with all the garbage.  I wouldn't have taken it on myself to make things better by myself.  I would have realized that it takes two and that if the others weren't willing, then trying to make things better by myself was simply an exercise in futility.

As it was, at the point all this started in the fall of 2006, I was in the very beginnings of what would turn out to be an amazing journey on the road to recovery.

At that point, I was still "scared of my own shadow", eager to please, easily intimidated, avoided confrontation like the plague, etc.  I realize now that part of my dysfunction was that I had been raised from early childhood to be a co-dependent, and that tendency was to play a major role in the scenario unfolding in the workplace.

If I had been the person I am now combined with the knowledge I have now, especially that at least one person was a serial bully and there appears to be a relationship between serial bullies and psychopathy, I would (or should) have realized that I was in a situation where winning was not possible.  The best thing I could have done for me would have been to quit at the very beginnings of the situation.

But I didn't know that then.  The literature I've read says that because bullying at it's beginnings is very subtle and virtually unrecognizable to anyone, including the target, it takes approximately two years for the target to realize that he/she is being bullied.  That was me.  It was almost exactly two years from the instigation until I realized that I was being bullied.  And even then, I was resistant to the concept.  It was only the research on the net that opened my eyes.

If you think there is any possibility that you are being bullied in the workplace, I urge you to do a google search and start looking at what it says.  Research carefully, though.  Look for multiple articles by multiple people to back up your "perceptions and assumptions".  And if you do choose to go to HR with your findings, back up your position with hard copies of the research and make sure you leave them with the HR representative.  It's much harder to dismiss hard copies of written research then it is to dismiss thoughts or concepts conveyed verbally.

*******

This isn't really where I intended to go today.  Frankly I admit I am procrastinating about going into the situation with the person whom I will simply call "person #2 who I believe may also be a serial bully.

However, I felt it was time to interject some of the research here so we - you, the reader, and I, the writer, - have some common basis for what I'll be writing about in the future.

In the workplace, I realized that none of us were in the same book store, let alone the same book.  The same page?  Forget that concept entirely.

In order to even have a hope of understanding the complexity of workplace bullying, we need to be as close to the same page as possible.  Being in the same book helps.  

Until Monday....

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