3 Signs You’re Dealing With Strategic Bullying

3 Signs You’re Dealing With Strategic Bullying

Not all bullying behavior is intentional. Not all bullying behaviors are conscious. Not all people who are abrasive or even aggressive mean to be bullying. Some people who are labeled “bullies” think they are fair but tough bosses. Some are truly unaware of how their are perceived by others. Some suffer some character disorder that makes it difficult for them to maintain control. Some are from cultures where it’s ok to be mad, have tantrums and say mean things. It’s “just the way it is”.

But, some people are using bullying behaviors because they have an end goal in mind. Maybe that goal is to eliminate a competitor or take over a department or a job. Those folks are what I call strategic bullies—people who are using strategies that are designed to hurt someone and “get them out of the way”.

Here are three behaviors that are commonly used by strategic bullies. Other folks may use some of these behaviors some of the time, but when you have all of these together, you should think “strategic bully” and be prepared to respond appropriately to the attack.

Sign #1: You’re Being Set-up

Your boss is complaining about your work performance and it has little to do with reality. You’re doing a great job. You meet your deliverables but the boss “has it in for you”.


Sign #2: You’re the Target of Rumors

Someone is spreading rumors about you. They are negative, slanderous and based on untruths. You may or may not know the source of the rumors but they’re having a significant impact on your reputation.

Sign #3: Your Invitation Was Lost in the Mail

You’re not getting meeting notices, the latest updates and changes on projects that you’re involved in. You’ve been cut out of the work and news pipeline. Meetings happen, decisions are made, and you’re so far out of the loop you might as well stay home.

Keep in mind you can’t fix this situation without a reasoned strategy and sound tactics.

You can’t manage UP a boss who has you in his or her sights. If the person has a good reputation or has everyone fooled about their accomplishments, then you have both a credibility and a believability problem.

In my professional experiences companies tend to support the strategic aggressor because the environment (company culture) breeds, encourages, and believes in strategic aggression. (Think survival of the fittest.) Be that as it may, you have to decide if you want to take action within the company or plan your exit.

For more solutions and tips on how to deal with workplace conflict and bullying behaviors, exclusive content, and detailed reports, sign up for my free newsletter.

Also read my upcoming book, Success Strategies for Handling Workplace Bullying, which outlines strategies I have been teaching targets. My strategies have been proven effective and empowering for targets and I’m committed to sharing them with the world.

I’ve been a strategic consultant on workplace conflict to executives worldwide for more than 20 years. My work brings individualized solutions to your teams’ lost productivity, loss of key personnel, low morale, and the high costs resulting from bullying, abrasive behaviors and interpersonal workplace conflicts.

I’m Kathleen Bartle, Conflict Consultant.