02 December 2008

Who are Bullies ? Profiling - Three Types of Bully

New research has also found that there's not just one kind of workplace bully. 

According to Keryl Egan, a Sydney-based clinical psychologist of Stormont Consulting, bullies fall into three main profiles: 
  • the accidental bully,
  • the narcissistic bully,
  • the serial bully
The Accidental Bully
Egan describes the accidental bully as emotionally blunt, intelligent, confident, successful, aggressive and demanding, expecting a lot of the people working around them. "This person is task orientated and just wants to get things done, tends to panic when things are not getting done, and goes into a rage about it. This person is basically decent, they don't really think about the impact of what's happened or what they have done. They are responding to stress a lot of the time." Importantly,
They don't listen to others, always feel they're right and, when the pressure is on, they lose their temper — but have no idea how their behaviour hurts the people around them. In other words, their bullying is not premeditated. "The destructive bully is narcissistic. They see any competition or threat as a serious assault and they go into a rage," says Egan. "They feel entitled to positions of power." So they bully because they can.
Egan believes this type of bully can be trained or coached out of the bullying behaviour.

The Narcissistic Bully

They are grandiose and has fantasies of breath-taking achievement. "This type of bully feels they deserve power and position. They can fly into rages whenever reality confronts them. This person is very destructive and manipulative, they don't set out in a callous way to annihilate any other person - it's purely an expression of their superiority."

The Serial Bully
The most dangerous type of all "who has a more sociopathic or psychopathic personality. The Serial bully is intentional, systematic, and organised and the bullying is often relentless. They usually get things done in terms of self interest, not in the interest of the company." Egan's serial bully employs subtle techniques that are difficult to detect or prove and training or coaching is always unsuccessful; simply, the serial bully is often:
  • grandiose yet charming,
  • authoritative, aggressive and dominating,
  • fearless and shameless,
  • devoid of empathy or remorse,
  • manipulative and deceptive;
  • impulsive, chaotic or stimulus seeking; and
  • a master of imitation and mimicry.

It seems women are particularly effective at this kind of behaviour. They intentionally hurt colleagues and revel in the pain they cause. "The psychopathic bully is very good at showing one face to the boss and another face to the people below them," explains Egan. Her research says it can take two years for a psychopathic workplace bully to be exposed.

"They isolate their target so that person doesn't have a support network. They manipulate the victim's workload and working conditions and make unrealistic demands and unpredictable decisions. One minute they praise, and the next minute they criticise. They isolate or ignore their victim and the bullying is systematic and relentless. They have a complete lack of empathy."

Egan says most people become psychopathic bullies because of a damaged childhood. They've usually been bullied themselves by uncaring parents or been emotionally neglected. They're incapable of having compassion for anyone else because they didn't receive love and care themselves.

Sally says whenever she's been generous in life people have taken advantage of her. "Sometimes I feel bad when I see the girls at work in tears. I see how they look at me when I arrive at work — they're afraid — but if they're afraid of me, they're not going to take advantage of me. Being soft doesn't get you anywhere."
*Names have been changed.

I don't think people should approach a psychopath on their own if they're being targeted because the bully will expertly reframe everything and say that they're being bullied. The bully will say that they are the real victim of their target's incompetence or they may say the target is paranoid and not performing. This kind of bully is so convincing they often get promoted and the target has to leave or goes on stress leave.
If everyone around a target is silent or withdraws, the victim does not have a hope, the best thing for them to do is to get out. But if colleagues are supportive and aware, start to listen and really look into what is happening, take the distressed person seriously and act as a team then it's an opportunity for growth and to change things.
So what you need to do is be smart, really think about how to handle it and have the courage to support your workmates or colleagues if they are being targeted. You need to encourage the people you work with to do likewise. However, there's no point in being courageous and getting out there and taking brave steps if you haven't thought it through because these people are smart and they'll turn it around so it looks as if there's something wrong with you."
Reference: Safety Reps Bullying Campaign - Speakers Presentations - Keryl Egan - Clinical Psychologist
Source: www.psychology.org.au

1 comment:

  1. I would like to say thanks for your sharing this useful information. Nice post keep it up. Hope to see you next post again soon.
    With Regards,
    Clinical Psychologist | Clinical Psychologist in Sydney