ADULT BULLYING in the WORKPLACE

The trauma of adult bullying is, at long last, being brought into focus. In the past, it has proved difficult for adults, schooled in composure and self-control, to admit to the pain and terror induced by the bully-boss. Such an employer, while physically mature, has failed to evolve emotionally beyond that time when he reveled in attacking weaker children in schoolyards and playgrounds, or lurked to trap them behind empty buildings. While most firms have policies in place to combat bullying, in reality, such employee reports frequently exacerbate harassment. This occurs due to the fact that often the bully-boss is integral to the corporate team, abusing his authority in order to exploit subordinates.

The bully-boss will often be a Doctor Jekyll during the hiring process, self-transformed into a Mr Hyde once the employee has been secured. A job-seeker who has encountered previous discrimination due to age or disability may, at first, appreciate this boss' willingness to employ him. Later, he will see his vulnerability utilized as a tool for work place bullying. Where feasible, the victim will be isolated in a branch office, in order to allow behavior on the bully-boss' part which he would not exhibit before his partners, colleagues and clerical staff.

Bullying will be subtle at first, escalating over the weeks and months. Beginning with carping for trivia, it will proceed to demeaning remarks on the employee's vulnerability, followed by reminders of probationary status and the need for excellent references, if and when an employee hopes to move onto another job.

In the final stage, this boss will descend to naked spitefulness, sometimes sabotaging the employee's work, and using his managerial power to project his incompetence and inadequacy onto the victim.  This step is calculated to undermine the employee's competence, thus justifying ousting him from the firm. If, however, the browbeaten employee resigns, the bully-boss will become apoplectic. 

At first, this response might seem inconsistent; why would any boss wish to retain an employee whose work, he has claimed, has proved below par?  From this boss' perspective, this rage is logical. This script requires that he do the firing. Deprived of this pleasure, the bully-boss will be forced to seek a new prey; he feels thwarted, frustrated.

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