The only difference between the school yard bully and the office bully is age. In the office, it’s called abuse. Either way, it causes misery for its victims — misery that can last for decades. You can do something to protect yourself.
- In the classroom or in the city — the bully is dangerous!
Managers abuse power and authority; managers abdicate authority. They’re kid bullies who have never grown up. They are managerial deviates. Managerial deviance is maladaptive behavior by a manager or supervisor that interferes with the activities of daily living on the job. This is aggressive behavior that can originate in a personality disorder or other mental illness.
A lifestyle of aggression is probably formed before age five, with the formation of personality.
Who Are They?
Adult bullies abuse children, spouses, peers, and subordinates. They were taught as children that violence, verbal and physical, is the only way to survive. They are marginally skilled, accident-prone, illness- and therefore absence-prone, and less productive than others. They hurt subordinates by abusing power and authority.
Abdicators of authority are also abusers. They push their subordinates into precarious situations and then abandon them — like throwing a cat off the roof to see what happens. They manipulate their employees into committing themselves to a course of action that is doomed to fail without management support, and then abandon them. Like putting a wide receiver with a pulled tendon into the game with third and long. They hurt subordinates through excessive control. Back to them later.
Why Do They Behave So Badly?
Personality is fixed at childhood, and is constant over one’s lifetime. The extent to which a personality changes is the extent to which an outside factor has intervened, such as drugs or emotional trauma, now called posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Behavior is a function of personality. That’s why prisons cannot rehabilitate. They just separate the offender from the population he offends. When he returns to the population that contains his targets, he abuses again.
Some people will never grasp that fundamental truth. They continue to wonder why they get raped, battered, and molested. Children who bully other kids grow up to be adults who bully other adults, and kids, and spouses, and society in general.
Bullies are wired for failure. They are seriusly dysfunctional people who cannot concentrate well enough to become achievers.
Delayed gratification is the foundation of long-term achievement. Concentration and focus are prerequisites to the ability to accept delayed gratification. The ability to delay gratification is a hallmark of emotional stability. On the other hand, the bully (abuser) needs immediate gratification just to survive. He gets immediate gratification by exploiting people, by controlling them. He must be in control of every environment, of every person he encounters.
What’s Sex Got To Do With It?
Have you noticed that I use only the male pronoun? That’s because all the abusers or bullies I have studied or heard about (or worked with in a psychiatric environment) are male. When is the last time you came across a female bully? Why is this true?
I am sure there exists a body of research into this gender thing; I have not participated in it, and therefore cannot speak with authority and knowledge. I can venture an opinion on it. In societies around the world, studied by anthropologists, sociologists, and other scientists, only males dominate. To dominate, you must control. Need I continue?
By the way, a psychiatric nurse once taught me a valuable lesson: Women are said to have sharp tongues and a vocabulary ready for any occasion. A woman can slice a man to shreds with her words, and looks that can reduce a man to a babbling, incoherent mass. Women seem to shrink from taking charge, from seizing control. But you know what? They do nothing of the sort.
In yielding control, one maintains control. In Western societies, woman shrinks from nothing; she controls man by suggestion, by non-verbal cues, by gentle correction, and yes, by judicious use of her body. The greatest control ever exercised by anyone is that exercised by woman and her body.
Abusive Managers Are Abusively Parenting Their Employees
Manager deviates probably experienced maltreatment in their childhood. They now perceive themselves as unworthy of respect. This inhibits communications, and thereby inhibits empathic relationships. The abusive manager/parent is isolated, emotionally and physically. Isolation inhibits insight; because he lacks insight, he places unrealistic goals on his children/employees.
When the employees cannot achieve the goals the abusive manager becomes as unreasonable in his rebukes as he was in his goal setting. This widens the chasm between him and his subordinates. This is not unlike the father who expects his child to be always a straight-A student, a first-string ball player, the best dressed, and the most popular boy in school. While each of these behaviors is desirable, the child cannot achieve them without first seeing them modeled in the parent. When the child falls short of the parent’s unreasonable expectations, the parent (manager) explodes. He cannot see his own failure to lead; he sees only what he thinks is malicious contempt on the part of the child (employee).
This essay is in three parts. Next time: The Abdicator as Deviate; Cost and Consequences
Adapted from the work by Peter Pitorri, PITORRI AND ASSOCIATES, INC., COPYRIGHT 1995.