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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Abuse Was His Only Leadership Skill

by Lyn
(Southeast US)

I didn't know how to deal with, and still don't know how to deal with a previous technical lead that I have previously worked for. He seemed to need a target for hostility. He wasn't grounded in any reality as to whether the person he targeted for his hostility was a detriment to the team or not. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, since he was diabetic and supposedly took several pain killers daily. I exercised compassion and believed that his poor judgement was a symptom of his lack of physical health. In other words, I played Mother Theresa. Unfortunately, I did this a little too much. I had to actually "play dead" around his boss who was even more bombastic and abusive. He was like a rogue black bear looking to maul people.

The truth was that my lead was committing true discrimination and subscribed in public humiliation to control people. He was literally my worst case scenario with being subject to unreasonable and unprovoked abuse.

I found his technical leadership skills to be actually inept. His inability to deal with any idea that didn't conform to his narrow, mechanical internal view of software construction was an obstacle. His response was just to shut down any technical channel that he couldn't deal with by being harsh and irrational to the person initiating a different technical perspective. His management let him get away with this and probably encouraged it. It seemed that they had no technical acumen to asses him by. This person submitted a "Personnel Action" on me, which I thought was extremely extraneous and arbitrary. I felt as if that group of people actually threatened by technical, accumulated experience and professionalism. He actually told me that "personality" was all that mattered, yet his "personality" - lack of patience, brute force abuse of people, short fuse and irrationality when dealing with people - was horrific. The "Personnel Action" was not warranted when, in many ways, I was fighting back for being bullied. So, not only did he get to bully people, he had the perverse authority to reprimand them when they defended themselves from being bullied. So much of what happened when I worked for that employer was the byproduct of being in a dis-functional group of people who couldn't contain their anger or hostility.

I've changed jobs and feel lucky for this, however, I have carried bad habits from my last job to my new one. I am so used to any reasonable, logical, technical idea being aggressively, verbally dismissed that I don't exercise any initiative. I don't trust my co-workers, because I couldn't trust my previous lead. I am adapting and am happy that I am in a functional technical group - both in technical merit and capacity and personally.

I have had to learn the hard way not to respond to someone's random bullying in the workplace. What I've learned over many years - is not to respond - almost don't register any emotions at the receipt of bullying. Keep veins of steel - so to speak. If the bullier can't get an emotional response from you - they will go find someone else to bully. Then report his/her behavior immediately so that he/she can't find another target. This methodology didn't work in my last job - which makes me conclude that bullying was inherit to all of their management - it was like a micro-management control mechanism that was actually condoned. I am so glad that I am out of there!

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