6 More Office Politics Personality Types: Bullies in the Workplace
Do you have co-workers who constantly tell you how to do your job? Do they criticize your work while bragging about their performance, which is actually mediocre at best? Do they take credit for your ideas and usurp your authority? If so, you’re probably dealing with a workplace bully.
Romanticize humanity as much as you like, but we share certain characteristics with our furry quadruped counterparts. I have a friend who watches The Dog Whisperer for tips on managing his kids’ behavior instead of reading childcare books and you know what? It works.
We’re pack animals, just like dogs. Office bullies are basically dogs with behavioral problems that have been allowed to run amok. Understanding what’s at play can help you feel better and survive, if not thrive, in the doggy daycare of office politics.
The Basic Office Bully Personality Types
1) The Alpha Dog. One growl and other dogs respectfully back away. If they don’t, they get a set of jaws clamped onto to their necks and assume the submissive position.
Figure out who the alpha dog is in your office. It may not be “the boss.” It could be the assistant or the VP. Determine their ego needs–flattery, reliability, staying late–and give it to them. Although I hate to say it, if you can learn how to fake sincerity with these people, it’ll make your life easier.
2) The Lateral Land Grabber. Ever wonder why organizations have departments? Because different employees have different skills and serve different functions? Yes, but there’s more to it.
Dogs are territorial creatures. They pee along the perimeters of their yard, neighborhood fire hydrants, and telephone poles. When other dogs encroach upon their territory, they get pissed.
We’re territorial, too. Do you have co-workers who tell you how to do your job? Do they offer unsolicited advice, even when they’re ignorant on the subject? It’s a lateral land grab. They’re marking your territory.
According to Franke James, inventor of the Office Politics Game, this is normal dog behavior. However, when taken to extremes, it’s an indication of territorial dominance, anxiety, and insecurity. There’s a difference between this highly aggressive bullying behavior and collaborative interdepartmental feedback, although the bully will tell you he’s “just trying to help.”
3) Mr. or Ms. Smoke and Mirrors. This person’s game is distraction through detraction. They trash you and tell you how you should be doing your job in order to draw attention away from their ineptitude and incompetence. This is a common tactic of the workplace bully. You know this is occurring when the facts don’t back up their allegations. Furthermore, when you challenge them with the facts, they make up the craziest BS to refute them.
I once worked with a guy who was a master of this technique. Unfortunately, it was the only thing he’d mastered. He made noisy, unfounded public disparaging pronouncements about my department, meanwhile, every business deal he made cost the company money instead of making it money. Distraction through detraction.
4) The Control Freak. If you spend all your time worrying about and trying to control others, when do you get your work done? Do you really have that much time on your hands? The answer is, yes, they do have that much time on their hands because they’re not doing their work; they’re too busy telling you how to do your work. By spending every waking moment trying to control people and situations, they give the appearance of being busy without accomplishing anything of their own.
This type believes his or her way is the only way. They try to leave their thumbprint on everything so that they can take credit for everything. It’s another form of bullying that involves domination and micro-management. Eventually, this behavior undermines your confidence and causes physical and psychological symptoms from the stress of being under constant attacks and monitoring.
5) Doggie Wants your Bone. They’re after your job. This happens all the time, hence the expression, “Dog eat dog world.” Enough said.
6) Mad Dog. They don’t want your job; they want you gone. This person is an uber-territorial, foaming at the mouth, pit bull. Watch your back. They prey on the vulnerable and anyone who isn’t a malleable sycophant. They also go after people who see through the facade that masks their mediocrity and vicious attack behaviors.
Deep down, they’re just the sickly, mewling runt of the litter. This is another bully behavior. Although their attacks and machinations feel personal, you’re just their target du jour. They seek and destroy others, particularly those who are smarter, more talented, more creative and more successful, in order to feel powerful and better about themselves. After, they force you out, they’ll move onto their next target within 2 hours to two weeks. This type always has an “enemy” in the cross hairs.
When an office has infighting, territory disputes, and withholds supplies and information, it’s a clear sign that it’s a workplace in which bullying is rampant and/or is tolerated by management. If you recognize any of the above personalities at your office, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with how bullies operate and how you can protect yourself. In fact, I’ll be writing more on this topic in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back.
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
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Evil Tegan by Brendan Crawford, a friend.
Dog peeing unknown source.
Chien lunatique by liz du canada on flickr.
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