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Stop being a bully boss

There are many adult bullies in our country. They often go unnoticed or get away with their bullying behaviors. The adult bully that’s really reaping havoc in our society is the bully boss. This bully is the lion that roars his or her way to success, wounding people on their way up. According to Wikipedia, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.”

Some bully bosses are hard to recognize because they appear to be nice, cool and in control of their lives. Their colleagues join them in forming a power-pack that makes it difficult for their subordinates and others to penetrate. It is amazing how the bully works on the job. Whether it is the bully president, supervisor, manager, teacher or coordinator, they are best described as “serial bullies”. Tim Field, a specialist who studies bullying behavior, said, “Most organizations have a serial bully. It never ceases to amaze me how one person’s divisive, disordered, dysfunctional behavior can permeate the entire organization like a cancer.” One author said that “the serial bully appears to lack insight into his or her behavior and seems to be oblivious to the crassness and inappropriateness”.

How can you identify a serial bully? Below is a list prepared by Robert D. Hare, a world-leading authority on psychopathic behavior and author of the “Hare PCL-R Psychopathy Checklist” (I present a few on the list).

A serial bully is a convincing, practiced liar, and when called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment.

A serial bully has a Jekyll and Hyde nature – is vile, vicious and vindictive in private, but innocent and charming in front of witnesses; no one can (or wants to) believe this individual has a vindictive nature – only the current target of the serial bully’s aggression sees both sides; whilst the Jekyll side is described as “charming” and convincing enough to deceive personnel, management and a tribunal, the Hyde side is frequently described as “evil”; Hyde is the real person, Jekyll is an act.

A serial bully excels at deception and should never be underestimated in their capacity to deceive.

A serial bully uses excessive charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers, superiors or others are present (charm can be used to deceive as well as to cover for lack of empathy).

A serial bully is often described as smooth, slippery, slimy, ingratiating, fawning, toadying, obsequious or sycophantic.

A serial bully is unusually skilled in being able to anticipate what people want to hear and then saying it plausibly.

A serial bully cannot be trusted or relied upon.

A serial bully is emotionally retarded with an arrested level of emotional development; whilst language and intellect may appear to be that of an adult, the bully displays the emotional age of a five-year-old.

A serial bully is emotionally immature and emotionally untrustworthy.

A serial bully exhibits unusual and inappropriate attitudes to sexual matters, sexual behavior and bodily functions; underneath the charming exterior, there are often suspicions or hints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, perhaps also sexual dysfunction, sexual inadequacy, sexual perversion, sexual violence or sexual abuse.

A serial bully in a relationship is incapable of initiating or sustaining intimacy.

A serial bully holds deep prejudices (e.g. against the opposite gender, people of a different sexual orientation, other cultures and religious beliefs, foreigners, etc – prejudiced people are unvaryingly unimaginative) but go to great lengths to keep this prejudicial aspect of their personality secret.

A serial bully is self-opinionated and displays arrogance, audacity, a superior sense of entitlement and sense of invulnerability and untouchability.

A serial bully is a control freak and has a compulsive need to control everyone and everything you say, do, think and believe; for example, will launch an immediate personal attack attempting to restrict what you are permitted to say if you start talking knowledgeably about psychopathic personality or antisocial personality disorder in their presence – but aggressively maintains the right to talk (usually unknowledgeably) about anything they choose. Serial bullies despise anyone who enables others to see through their deception and their mask of sanity.

A serial bully undermines and destroys anyone who the bully perceives to be an adversary, a potential threat or who can see through the bully’s mask.

A serial bully is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise collate incriminating information about them.

A serial bully, when called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression.

A serial bully is haughty, high-handed and a know-it-all.

A serial bully often has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic attention-seeking need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person, in contrast to their behavior and treatment of others; the bully sees nothing wrong with their behavior and chooses to remain oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how they are seen by others.

A serial bully is mean-spirited, officious and often unbelievably petty.

A serial bully is greedy, selfish, a parasite and an emotional vampire.

A serial bully often fraudulently claims qualifications, experience, titles, entitlements or affiliations, which are ambiguous, misleading or bogus, and is constantly imposing on others a false reality made up of distortion and fabrication.

I am sure you were able to identify someone as a bully as you read this list. However, if you realized that you are a serial bully, I encourage you to seek professional help.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your comments or questions to question@soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980, or visit www.soencouragement.org.

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