I know you’ve seen them – office bullies who intimidate and harass their colleagues.
Now, I’m not actually suggesting you practice bullying or become the office bully. Although, if you are so inclined, you may find some of these methods – which I have seen used over the years – useful.
The ‘expert bully’ throws his weight around by claiming to be the preeminent expert. One colleague I worked with used to claim that “It’s against the laws of physics,” whenever he wanted to get his way. He was a senior level technical guy, and he happened to have a PhD in physics. It didn’t matter that we were talking about things that had nothing to do with physics… like a marketing slogan, or the color of the stripe on the new machine.
I mean really – is the space-time continuum going to be disrupted with a new marketing slogan? Will we defy gravity if we paint the stripe blue instead of red? Our conversations usually went something like this:
Me: “We need a new system for small and medium business clients.”
Expert Bully: “It’s against the laws of physics.”
Me: “The market data shows that we have over 5000 customers who would buy it.”
Expert Bully: “That’s not possible – it’s against the laws of physics.”
Me: “Clients are running out of processing power on the systems they have, but they can’t afford the high end system.”
Expert Bully: “The laws of physics say that can’t be true.”
Me: “You do your job and I’ll do mine. Besides, I’m right and you’re wrong.”
Okay – I didn’t say that last part – but I should have. I can’t recall the expert bully ever winning one of these ridiculous arguments, but he sure caused a lot of chaos and extra work.
Now let’s look at the ‘endurance bully’. These guys (okay – they’re not always guys – I’m using the term generically) are in it for the long haul, and can be particularly effective.
Surprisingly, endurance bullies tend to be nice. They are methodical, calm, and never yell. After all, they are running a marathon – they need to conserve their energy. The technique? Endurance bullies ask as many questions as possible that promote their position and discredit yours, and above all – they outlast their opponents.
This can be particularly effective in management personnel discussions when the bully’s candidate is up against yours for a promotion (for example). For everything nice you have to say about your candidate he will have two nice things to say about his candidate and one negative thing about yours.
And an hour later, when the meeting really must end, he will have the last word – always. I swear… endurance bullies have an internal time clock that lets them know exactly when the boss will make that decision.
Now it’s your turn – tell us about your favorite bullying techniques.