I have supportive and loving workplace mentors. This is not about them.
This is to my bully.
Back off. Leave me alone. . . . This is who you are.
A bully misleads people by omitting significant information that would explain the situation and reveal the underlying reality. When you counter with a fact-based explanation, he misstates and belittles your viewpoint.
Presents hearsay as fact
Because facts aren’t on his side, he quotes hearsay as important and authoritative. He misquotes others, or misrepresents their meaning, then claims they support his ideas. Or he manipulates a co-worker into making a critical remark about his opponent, then quotes that remark as “evidence.”
Distorts facts and their meaning
A bully accurately describes the details of an event, but then distorts the interpretation. Perhaps he slips in an inaccurate detail, or innuendo about your motives, that changes everyone’s perception of the event. Or he depicts a conversation with you differently than it occurred, causing others to believe you are confused or self-serving.
A bully’s goal is to create a new reality that puts a positive spin on his behavior and intentions, while implying the worst about the behaviors and intentions of his opponents. This makes him appear reasonable and constructive, while his opponents appear unreasonable and destructive.
Attacks your character
By frequently repeating unwarranted negative comments about you, he tries to set perceptions before you can explain your actions. Over time, his persistent attacks can undermine your reputation and convince others that you are bad for the company.
To accomplish this, he unfairly criticizes you behind your back by giving an inaccurate account of a recent event. He attacks the quality of your work, without any factual basis, by giving noteworthy or humorous examples of your mistakes. He implies you have bad intentions by misquoting you, or tells stories that wrongly characterize you as lazy, incompetent, dishonest, destructive or misguided. He may even suggest you have personal or emotional problems.
Uses distortions and lies as he spreads rumors about you
A rumor-monger treats half-truths and hearsay as damning evidence. He distorts the meaning of comments made by others, thus converting innocent observations into harsh criticisms. He repeats statements from obviously biased sources, prefacing the rumor with praise of the source’s character. If necessary, he even makes up lies about you.
Spreads malicious rumors about you
At his most diabolical, a bully suggests you are immoral, depressed or even suicidal. He misrepresents or exaggerates actual events in a manner that implies the worst about your behavior. Through his distortions, he leads others to very harsh conclusions, effectively destroying your reputation.
It’s hard to believe someone would stoop so low, but like most of the bullying traits described on this website, I witnessed this first-hand: the bully distorted the meaning of recent events to support his conclusion that another executive was suicidal, helping justify the bully’s power grab.
A workplace bully may be aggressive towards you by things he doesn’t do. By not doing something that would normally occur, he can insult you and weaken you, with a potentially serious impact on your ability to move forward with your career.
Uses the silent treatment
When a passive-aggressive bully can’t get his way, he sulks instead of confronting issues honestly and fairly. He closes his office door more often than usual, he doesn’t return phone calls and he avoids talking with you. At meetings, he is unusually quiet, but his disappointment is obvious from his silence. His intention is to make others feel guilty and to interfere with company operations, ultimately causing others to submit to his demands.
Excludes you from social interaction within the company
When he is unhappy with your behavior, he intentionally excludes you from social gatherings or recreational events that he has arranged, either after work or on weekends. During company functions or retreats, he excludes you from impromptu get-togethers or activities during free time.
Cuts you out of the loop
At his worst, a passive-aggressive bully keeps you in the dark about new strategies, projects and clients, perhaps by excluding you from office communication (email, meetings, informal conversations, lunches). He effectively exiles you from his department, possibly resulting in your termination.
Through methods like these, passive-aggressive behavior represents one of the most diabolical forms of workplace bullying.
Pretends to care
A workplace bully can be particularly dangerous when he is pretending to care about you and others in the company. Most people are taken in by his displays of enthusiasm and affection, never considering that he is concealing a shrewd, self-serving nature. The bully exploits this naivete to his advantage.
Public vs. private words
A two-faced bully is positive and supportive in public, but negative and overly critical in private. Others sing praises of his virtue, vision, good humor and leadership, while you are suffering from his frequent attempts to intimidate and belittle you.