Become Target proof

Repost from the old forum: Become Target-proof

From: SSonnon
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:23 AM

"Why Some of Us are Targets: Bullies don't bully everyone. Some of us are more likely targets than others."

Ethical, Just & Fair People

Targets don't have an integrity problem. Hypocrisy is a workplace and societal problem. Institutions fill their hallways with framed testaments spouting noble notions about "respect for individuals" and "courtesy and dignity for all." Yet most ring hollow when employees pass daily and can snicker under their breath "nice frame." People working in the culture can tell anyone who bothers to ask if there is a fit between what really happens and the glowing phrases crafted at an expensive off-site retreat for executives and consultants. Employees know that integrity is about fit, of not having to falsify.

Targets who work in schools, in medical centers, in research university labs, in churches and in nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving public health seem to expect their employers to both proclaim and act in accordance with higher, moral goals than an auto shop. Of course, they are routinely disappointed. The school district may be honored with a Presidential award for excellence, based on the work of a man who was chased away. The man's health was damaged and his career tossed to the rocks, but the tormenting district superintendent accepted the plaudits anyway. Bullies have no shame.

Nurses call the Campaign help line regularly. The same people tasked with saving lives of strangers turn on their own if they don't like someone's makeup or the car she drives.

The ethics gap deserves a fancy name, but there is none. It is the primary malady from which Targets suffer. It is clear that no workplace is immune to bullying. It happens in the "best" and the ones where we might expect it for some stereotypical reason.

Targets have unpolitical, and therefore impractical, expectations about how organizations and people should treat each other with integrity. Whistleblowers take seriously the responsibility to see that schools funded to care for special kids not misuse the money. Tobacco industry insiders went public with information that belied the falsehoods the industry wanted the public to believe. Integrity is a very personal decision. Organizations get involved when someone in power wants to silence the one with integrity. The bullying starts small between two people. The entire organization enlists its goon squad when the morally superior whistleblower refuses to back down. Character assassination begins; the Target loses her job, family, friends and her health. Was the Target's decision "worth it?" Whistleblowers would tell you they'd do it all again given a chance. Truth compels them.

Targets also prize equity and justice. They believe that rewards should be proportional to talent. That's why it's so irksome that incompetent bullies steal ideas and get promoted. As you see below, Targets are almost always smarter than their bullies. It ain't fair.

Justice is a principle that causes Targets limitless pain. The entire complaint-response system disappoints the person hoping to see justice done. When bullies are confronted about their misconduct, they lie. This outrages the Target who may have taken great risks to have the bullying surface in public. Targets make difficult clients for attorneys. Though it is the law that does not provide protection, Targets hold attorneys accountable for not being able to do more to achieve justice in their case.


Subject: RE: INFO
From: SSonnon
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:24 AM

Targets driven by a strong sense of equity, justice and integrity do make life challenging for those who wish they would simply disappear. Maybe they make us uncomfortable because they remind us of how we should all be, of what we should aspire to become. It is that guilt that allows witnesses to the bullying to abandon the principled, passionate and driven Target. God bless 'em. They are the salt of the earth.

Independent, Skilled & Bright People

Paradoxically, bullies also target strong people for assault. Remember that bullies are, by nature, creatures haunted by their own inadequacy. On one level, they realize this, but the public persona they present is a mask of bravado and superiority. Rather than undertake an introspective analysis and personal re-socialization plan (as if one could redo childhood later in life to get it right), bullies prefer to lash out at others who threaten their presumption of superiority.

Into their work world come genuinely bright, creative, self-assured people. Since these people are a threat, bullies work hard to undermine them.

They sabotage them through a myriad of covert means. They spread rumors and misrepresent the accomplishments of this group of Targets. If the bully is a subordinate or co-worker, the rumor mill of disinformation is the only means by which the desperate bully can claw her way back into control.

If the bully is the boss of the independent and skilled Target, all she has to do is constrain her creativity, pile on impossible burdens, or steal credit for the Target's work. These Target types will leave the job or stay to outwit the bully because, thanks to their self-confidence, they have a low threshold for the lies bullies dish out.

If the bright Target chooses not to compete with the bully, she could be untracked and walk away from a job in disbelief about the banishment. All she wanted was "to be left alone to do the job I was hired to do, as best as I could do it." There is a naivete about these Targets. They are highly proficient in the work to be done, but oblivious to office politics (the sole reason to exist according to the bully¹s world view).


Subject: RE: INFO
From: SSonnon
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:24 AM

Cooperative, 'Nice' People

Bullies eat "nice" people alive. Bullies are competitors and live for the opportunity to work with a bunch of cooperators. Imagine the glee of a sadistic supervisor who inherits a group of positive, non-confrontational people to manage.

In light of all the talk about "team-ness" being central to successful work performance in most contemporary American workplaces, it is ironic that the people with a more advanced stage of human development (the ability to cooperate) fall prey to the primitive, neanderthal bullies. Research shows that when everyone cooperates, groups maximize benefits to each person. They get more goodies, whatever goodies there are. But the human tendency to grab the most for oneself prevails in studies with groups that have chances to build a collective cash pool. The rules typically call for a doubling of the amount of cash in a bowl if no one person withdraws money from the bowl during a round of a game. Unfortunately, groups in U.S. psychological studies break the bank and rarely play more than one round. This happens because greedy individuals (from a random group of people sitting around the table) snatch the money bowl for themselves, ruining the game for others. They do this despite being free to talk out loud, to formulate a strategy, to agree to keep doubling money that could be split later. The reality of the workplace is no different. The formal, written rules call for teamwork, dangling the biggest prizes to groups that cooperate. Operating rules, however, undermine cooperation. Bullies, as strong competitors, know that if they grab "goodies" at the expense of Targets, they win. The cooperators are left to watch the competitor dictate the outcomes (gains or losses) they will experience.


Subject: RE: INFO
From: SSonnon
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:25 AM

It is clear in the competitive workplace populated with bullies, cooperators are second-class citizens. Americans hate being second. In the face of a winner-take-all world, cooperators don't stand a chance without a concerted institutional effort to wrest control of the rules away from greedy bullies.

Cooperators are not weak; they are simply over-optimistic that goodwill will naturally and automatically prevail. Bullies interpret ³nice" as the unlikeliness to confront or to stop them.

Vulnerable People

Bullies scan groups for the weakest. Maybe it is an evolutionary remnant of our place in the animal kingdom. All predatory species select and attack the weakest prey. It¹s done for food. Barely human, bullies only symbolically eat their prey. They are gratified by the fear they instill in Targets.

Bullies test the field, especially with new employees. They look for the Targets who put up no resistance to attacks. Approximately 75% of the workforce do not tolerate being controlled by another person. The bully backs off when resisted. Behavioral researchers speak of an aggressor's mental calculation of her effort/benefit ratio. The people who require more effort to aggress against than is considered worth it to the aggressor are no longer seen as Targets. That is, bullies are lazy. They want an easy mark.

Many of us hate conflict and confrontation. We want peace and quiet. Being non-confrontational when provoked makes Targets look and sound non-threatening. This is done with both words and nonverbal messages communicated to the bully.

Vulnerability Through Words

Self-effacing statements can be a sign of humility or civility. In those instances, we hear lots of praise heaped on others, a genuine desire to deflect credit that she herself deserves. "I could not have done this alone. There are many others to thank." "My co-workers made it impossible for anyone to fail." The person may simply be choosing to not draw attention to herself.

However, self-denigrating, self-defeating statements are tell-tale signs of a deeper insecurity. There is evidence that the seed of self-doubt was planted long ago, in one's childhood, and has reared its ugly head through conflict with a bully. All of us have doubts at one time or another, but most believe that we are inherently capable of overcoming obstacles. Those with historical doubts are always more susceptible to spiraling into despair whenever confronted by powerful people who only criticize and demean them.


Subject: RE: INFO
From: SSonnon
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:25 AM

It's one thing for the horrific bully to put down the Target, but when she does it to herself, it's painful to witness. For instance, it hurts to hear someone say:

"I only slow the others down."

"I never was good at this sort of thing, not good at anything really."

"You all should go on, I can¹t help. I¹d only make it worse for you all."

"I never learned how to do computers. My kids are much smarter than me. I¹m such a dolt."

"You may be right that I screw up a lot, but I¹ll try harder next time."

In addition, there are aspects of speech that provide nonverbal clues to a hovering predator. Relevant paralinguistic cues (all aspects of speech except the words themselves) include tone of voice ("mousy," timid), rate of speech (either slow enough to be interrupted or too fast and flurried to mask a fear of being detected as less than competent), and showing a tolerance for interruptions by the bully, all combine to convey a general lack of confidence.

Vulnerability Through Action

The way the Target walks, carries herself, sits, stands, uses hands, and uses interpersonal space is scrutinized by the bully, perhaps without the Target's awareness. Fear or intimidation can be signaled by a hesitant walking pace, short stride or actually walking backwards to attend to what the more powerful person is saying. Confident people typically gesture with their hands to punctuate speech. The absence of gestures does not necessarily indicate poor confidence. It does, however, convey a reticence either learned in a family that discouraged free expression or a deliberate delay in taking action. In either case, the bully pounces on the quiet, non-expressive person, assuming that she will not fight back when attacked.


ubject: RE: INFO
From: SSonnon
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:25 AM

Finally, bullies exploit personal space to their advantage. They stand too close, hover over your shoulder in your cubicle when your back is turned, and touch you to signify control rather than compassion. Whenever a Target fails to back the bully off, to re-establish a comfortable distance, she risks having the invasion of her personal space wreak havoc over her own sense of control. Cowering or tolerance of invasion often indicates submission to the bully.

A Private Vulnerability

Some Targets carry a private burden inside. Somehow and by someone they have been previously traumatized. Though years may have passed, the memory never dies.

She may have been a child of divorce that caused deep feelings of resentment, abandonment or loss. She may have been sexually abused as a child and told to keep secrets about embezzlement by a bank manager. She may have seen her young daughter killed as a pedestrian and spent years healing only to have her gay male boss demand that she "make a beautiful baby" for him and his partner. A woman who was shamed into tears daily as a child by a domineering father jumps from one demeaning dentist to another.

We have learned that the previously traumatized Targets:

are more reluctant to tell others about their torment by a bully

lack confidence that she is not the reason for the bullying

tolerate much more craziness and instability at work because she is accustomed to chaos in her Family-of-Origin

experience so much shame that it is especially hard to ask for help or to talk about it, even to spouses

appear angry to co-workers and management when finally complaining about the bullying because of the delay, and a personal pool of experience with mistreatment that they are reminded of by the bullying that it comes spewing out angrily and unfiltered

are more susceptible to the uninvited assaults by a bully because of the re-traumatization effect

experience an emotional setback from the re-living of deep memories at each step of the fighting back process--with each re-telling of the story to a bureaucrat, a psychologist, a lawyer This knowledge about previously traumatized Targets is offered to help them and their families understand why the healing process takes so long. Healing cannot begin until there is separation from the bully and her supporters. If a lawsuit is begun, it postpones indefinitely the end of the bullying situation. It can take years. Sometimes, well-intentioned family members get frustrated that the Target doesn't simply "let it go." It is not that easy. Spouses may not know about the Target's early-life experiences. The bullying episode provides a chance for starting that intimate, private discussion.

In no way, does an increased susceptibility excuse the bully's unconscionable, despicable behavior. Prior traumas are none of the bully's or employer's business. Unfortunately, if they learn about prior trauma, they will use that information against the Target. She will need the unconditional support of her family more than ever.

excerpted from The Bully At Work, © 2000 by Gary and Ruth Namie

Read more:

Subject: RE: INFO
From: BMac
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 11:55 AM

Thanks for that, Scott. That was awesome. There are times in my life when I've been a target and times when I've been a bully. I've been striving for that healthy person who's neither. Can you profile that person?

Subject: RE: INFO
From: neckcranku
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 12:20 PM

Great material!

Subject: RE: INFO
From: PoundforPound
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 03:17 PM

Here's hoping that someday soon there will be enough enlightened people to force "a concerted institutional effort to wrest control of the rules away from greedy bullies."

Subject: RE: INFO
From: Joe Shmoe
Date: 03-Mar-02 | 10:14 PM

Talk about an epiphany flash!

Subject: RE: INFO
From: Rockster
Date: 04-Mar-02 | 10:24 AM

Hmmm, that was difficult to read but Im glad I read it. Do you think that everyone that reads that article finds themselves somewhere in it? Rockster

Subject: RE: INFO
From: nowaydo
Date: 07-Mar-02 | 12:11 AM


Subject: RE: INFO
From: Taku
Date: 12-Mar-02 | 03:08 PM

Hey Scott...Awesome post (as usual).

It has been my experience however that bullies do bully everyone or more appropriately put, attempt to bully everyone. It is just that some of us do not respond to these "interviews" and therefore are left alone. This may seem like a semantics issue but I feel this to be true.

In schools for instance the "bully" will explore the boundaries with many individuals on a daily basis. He/she is looking for a particular response and making notes (conciously or unconciously) about the response obtained from each person interacted with. Throughout these "interview" periods, each individuals response once catalogued is reviwed by the bully for its level of desireability.

Perhaps Persons A-Z are interviwed. The desired response is for the bully to be in charge. And the favorite feedback for this particular bully is the inducement of tears. So off He/she goes to check out the perspective players. After checking with all of them he/she finds that person "H" gave the desirable response (cried) and so person "H" then becomes the daily (weekly, monthly etc) target from then on. For what ever reason the others failed the "interview" process and so are now left alone. Some times this is accomplished through some learned skills or more often through innate abilities in the areas of confidence and awareness that aid in target denial.

This has been my experience in how bullies operate. Many observers may feel bullies are only bothering a select few but it turns out when watched very closely they are in fact attempting to bully almost everyone. It is only after they have conducted the interview process and determined the most desirable targets that the bullying begins. I hope that example made sense.


That's it. Now you can all thank me! ;)

thanks ;)

Thanks! Got any more gems?

If anybody misses something (Archived threads) i can get it back. but you have to say it before the old forum goes down

For instance "Breathing while being crushed", "Unconditional survival", "Performance question", and escpecially "IOUF Progression". If you could add those to this sites archived items that would be great :)

No, if the text is on the old forum you must have the data here before it's bet taken down. you should post it here (the new ug) other wise you will lose it.

But enough off topic on this/thread forum :)

Taku, I agree with you on the "interview" and "woofing" process, though I would state that the "bully" is often if not always unaware that he seeks "prey" whom enables his bullying.

I believe you'd enjoy the book, "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins. (In particular chapter 5, I believe).



I remember reading a year or two ago about a study that interviewed a group of convicted rapists (individually) and showed them footage of different women packing their groceries into their cars. The subjects were asked which ones they would be most likely to assault and guess what? They all picked the same ones.

*Surprise* ;)