Category Archives: Bullies

Gaslighting

Hands down, the most popular post I have ever written is: Bullies Are Cowards and Why I Refuse To Turn the Other Cheek.

I have received over twenty thousand page views for that one post alone and hundreds of emails from people who have shared heartbreaking bullying experiences with me.

But a recent incredibly hurtful and personal experience, immediately followed by a comment I received yesterday from a man named Jack after he read my Bullies Are Cowards post prompted me to write about gaslighting.

“I never said that.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You’re too sensitive.”

“I was just joking around.”

“Oh, stop it.”

“Why are you taking things so seriously?”

“You misunderstood what I said.”

“That never happened.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!”

Misinformation, disinformation, alternate theories, alternative facts, distorted view of events, outright lies.

Did you ever wonder why someone you trust would rewrite history?

And after listening to them tell their version over and over and over again, did you ever question that maybe it didn’t happen the way you thought it did?

Or second guessed yourself, and even doubted your own sanity?

If you’re nodding your head yes, don’t worry. You’re not going crazy. It’s not you. And it’s happened to the best of us.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt bullied, discredited, victimized, minimized, and alienated.

As a result, I was often left with questions about myself, wondering if I was being overly sensitive, silly, neurotic, or downright unhinged.

Gaslighting is a manipulative attempt to plant seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make those targets question their own memory, perception, sanity, and order of things.

Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighters attempt to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s beliefs.

The term comes from a 1938 London play, about a sadistic husband who is trying to drive his wife insane, titled “Gas Light.

The drama popularized the term “gaslighting” where the narcissistic abuser manipulates the mind of a victim by presenting fiction as fact, causing the victim to question reality.

Gaslighters come in all forms: Family members, friends, spouses, teachers, health professionals, bosses, authoritarian regimes, government officials, and yes, even the President of the United States.

There is some good that can come from all of this altering of reality and facts though.

The liars and deceivers who gaslight will eventually be exposed for who and what they are and/or slip up.

But don’t wait around for that to happen.

Here is what I’ve learned over the years, and sadly, more recently, when a friend of a friend attempted to gaslight me.

The only reality you can control is your own. Distance yourself as much as possible. Walk away if necessary. Don’t engage. Don’t let anyone wear and tear you down. Don’t give into lies. Stay informed. Trust your instincts. Never give up on the truth. Resist and persist.

And above all love and believe in yourself.

 

Bully Bosses–You Know Who You Are

bully-boss

Since it is Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week (October 18-24, 2015), I thought I would blog about those obnoxious, sadistic bully bosses, who would use an elephant gun to shoot a mosquito.

Everyone deserves a safe, healthy workplace, and yet according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a staggering 35% of the U.S. workforce (approximately 53.5 million Americans) report being bullied at work. And an additional 15% have witnessed workplace bullying, which means that 50% of all Americans have directly experienced bosses who bully.

Unlike schoolyard bullying, the workplace target is not bullied because they are small, weak, shy, or without friends to stand up to their perpetrator. Bully bosses target those who they perceive pose a threat to them. Bosses bully because they are insecure and lack self-confidence and self-esteem.

There is a common perception that bosses who bully see themselves as better than others. But this is a misnomer. Bully bosses target workers who are more successful or brighter than they are. For the most part, targets are more technically skilled than their boss bullies. The targets are more often than not, the seasoned professionals to whom other staff members turn to for guidance because they are patient, empathetic, better liked, and easier to approach.

Targets are likely to have more social skills, are kinder, are better respected, and are more helpful than their bully bosses. Targets are ethical and honest. And unlike their nasty bully bosses, they play by the rules and exhibit exceptional qualities, like a desire to assist, heal, teach, develop and nurture others.

Bully bosses thrive in small companies, which means that if you work for an organization with few employees, your probable only choice is to find another job.

Most bully bosses can’t stand to share credit for the recognition of talent and they often steal credit from skilled targets. Bully bosses abhor those diligent employees who are popular and bring warmth to the workplace. In summary, bully bosses don’t play well with others—just like in the schoolyard.

And how about those wimpy HR people who will confide to you (orally) that your bully boss is a jerk, but there’s nothing they can do about it. After all, it’s not against the law to be a jerk.

Yes, to put it mildly, bosses who bully are jerks. And make no mistake about it HR “experts,” bully bosses can wreak havoc on an organization, and severely hinder a company’s ability to generate a positive and innovative work environment.

Here’s what I’d like to say to all you bully bosses out there:

Your tactics of humiliating, shaming, and embarrassing your subordinates, serve only to expose YOU as the pitiful person you truly are—a coward, ignorant, repulsive, unlikable, and downright detestable.

The only person you embarrass, humiliate and shame is yourself.

Bullies Are Cowards and Why I Refuse To Turn the Other Cheek

I have been working on this bully post for a few days now, and maybe the “bully tome” has gotten the better of me—because lately everything I watch on television, read in The New York Times, or witness while I’m out and about, comes back to a bully or a bully tactic.

Watching the knockout round of the Voice the other night, I found it hard to comprehend that Team Levine’s church singer Deanna Johnson was bullied in school. The Maroon 5 front man, Adam Levine has been tirelessly working with this shy 18-year old beauty, who has been crippled with stage fright and low self-esteem for years—the devastating result of bullying.

Take a look at Deanna Johnson’s incredible Voice performance from this past Tuesday.

It is believed that bullying is aggressive behavior that occurs between school-aged children until they eventually grow up and out of their vicious behavior.

But bullying goes well beyond adolescence—it’s a rampant problem that extends to all walks of life.

Because many school yard bullies, who are long past their school days, never grow up and out, and morph into adult bullies.

And adults can be some of the worst aggressors, who use their cowardly and downright manipulative bullying tactics day in and day out.

According to Vital Smarts, a corporate training company, 96% of people have experienced bullying at the office. And 79% of bullying involves emotional attacks, such as biting sarcasm or spreading malicious gossip.

Bullying is so commonplace, and so destructive, that it may possibly be the single most important social issue of today.

I’m not a big fan of the “ignore it” school of thought. I think ignoring bullies gives them way too much power, and reinforces a sense of powerlessness in the target.

If someone is belittling, humiliating, or insulting me in a work setting, in my “friend” zone, at the Motor Vehicle department, when trying to make a doctor’s appointment, etc., etc., etc., I deal with the situation head on.

Bullying cuts deep, but I try to remind myself that whether in a school lunchroom, the nursing home, or anywhere in between, the bully is the one with the problem.

And I let them know it.

The message I verbally convey to a bully is: Don’t mess with me, because I am not going to accept or ignore your bad behavior. While I try not to escalate a situation, more times than not, when I have responded to a bully by calmly but assertively explaining that I won’t tolerate their uncalled for cruelty, it doesn’t go well. But that doesn’t stop me from putting them in their place. (Note: I never put the police in their place. Just saying.)

I have to admit that on occasion a bully will arouse intense feelings of displeasure in me. And even though I know that fighting back gives the bully exactly what he/she wants, which is to get to me—I simply can’t turn the other cheek.

These miscreants feed off putting other people down, because it masks their own inferior and insecure feelings about themselves. It’s only by making others feel less than whole, that they can raise their own self-esteem.

And as recently as a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that reacting to a workplace bully only further encourages and worsens their unwanted behavior towards me.

And I have made some nasty bully enemies, with the distinct possibility that they will escalate their campaigns of hatred and intimidation against me and will up the ante when it comes time to serve out a cold dish of revenge.

But I don’t care. I refuse to be subservient.  I can take it.  Bring it on, you cowards.

I am so tired and fed up by bullies thinking they can say and do anything they want, with no repercussions at all. And I have learned from years of being bullied that their snarky, cutting comments, insulting innuendos and malicious rumors won’t stop until you make them stop.

I have a recurring shut-down-the bully scenario that I play over and over in my head: I contact a lawyer to write to the bully, with a threat of legal action, pointing out that he or she is subject to the laws of slander, libel and defamation of character. I take down the bully and I win!

And if you ever witness someone being bullied, speak up and say something. Most people don’t want to get involved, and want to stay out of the fray. But please consider the consequences of not getting involved and allowing a bully to keep on trucking. You are unintentionally sending a message to them that their abhorrent behavior is acceptable.

How many times have I heard from witnesses to bullying, as well as friends, business colleagues and family members that know the bully personally, who say “yeah, so and so is a real jerk.” But there is nothing they will do about it (and later, when you ask for their support, they deny having agreed with you at all).

Here is my short list of bully categories in no particular order of offense, although I find children who bully other children to be the worst bully offense of them all. Please feel free to comment with other categories.

Children Who Bully

Airline/Flight Attendant Bully

Airline Passenger Bully

Business Colleague Bully

Boss Bully

Ex-Spouse Bully

Medical Receptionist Bully

Motor Vehicle Worker Bully

Nursing Home Bully

Cyber Bully

Family Member Bully

PTA Bully

Restaurant Customer Bully

Government Worker Bully

Anti-Abortion Bully

The Christian Conservative Bully

Sorority and Fraternity Bully

Police Bully

The Sports Fan Bully

 The Axis of Evil Bully

 Racist Bully

 The Wanna Be in Organized Crime Bully

 The Rich and Famous Bully