vPsychology for Business


We are dedicated to bringing out the best in you and your employees

Volume 3, Number 20                                                                                                       October 4, 2002



Psychology for Business is a free e-mail newsletter written by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, Dr. John Weaver, and Dr. Lynda Dahlke, business psychologists and independent consultants. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website,
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The Bully in the Workplace  

By Paul Kenneth Glass, Ph.D., Business Psychologist and Executive Coach

“The key successful leadership lies not in the management of others, but rather the ability to listen, understand, and manage your response to their needs”    – P.K. Glass

Something NEW Regularly readers of our e-newsletter send questions regarding specific work related issues they have experienced, and request advise about appropriately and effectively managing their situation.  Often the questions have similar themes.  As a result, Psychology for Business will dedicate some of the future issues to answering these questions.  We believe the value of our being responsive to your needs is important.  We hope this is a very helpful service to you.  We respectfully request your feedback and encourage your questions.  We will attempt to answer each question personally and will share some of the questions and responses with our readers, without sharing any confidential or personal information that could identify the person or corporation involved.

The question that several readers have inquired about, is how to deal with the BULLY in the workplace.  One reader described their situation as follows. (Please note that the question refers to a bully with a male pronoun, so my response follows with the male pronoun. Bullies can be encountered in either gender.)


Bullied Reader:  I have been angry about the treatment I get from one of the managers I have to deal with daily.  He is not only condescending to me but everyone around him.  Why does he remain employed, and in the position he is in?  Because he has been able to get the top executive’s listening ear.  He distorts information and places the blame for all the problems on others.  I find out the damage he has done to me, and others, only after questioning management colleagues (who are equally upset) about the reversal of decisions I thought we agreed upon.  I am also surprised about the “threats” this person makes about my competence and ability to do MY job sufficiently enough to keep my management position.  What do I do?  I like the company and all the other managers.  I do a very good job, yet constantly fear losing my position, or my job. I feel my job is ruining my life, I am miserable at work and I am always feeling like I must be ON GUARD for the next attack on me. 

Dear Bullied Reader:

 Often bullies are insecure and need to reduce the attention that is paid to more competent managers.  They attempt to destroy the other manager’s reputation, by demeaning their character and reputation, controlling them, or limiting their access to critical information, and essential top level executives.

Other Characteristics that portray a bully might include:

Deciding What You Should Do:

Determining the extent to which this bully is really a threat to you, is an essential first step.  Does he really pose a threat to your job, or are you just very angry with this person’s mode of operating.  Is he really as close to top management as he would like you to believe (they are frequently very convincing but untruthful)?  If he has no direct control over your job, you may want to assess the risks of starting the war with this person.  He will not play fair.

Approach Others for Their Feedback:

 Asking others about their perceptions of this person could provide valuable information regarding the amount of support he has, the amount of fear others have of him (which may affect their willingness to be supportive of you), or cause you to see another side of the person you have not seen.

When the Bully is a Direct Threat:

If it is clear that this bully will have a direct and potentially damaging affect on your reputation or your career, you must fight.  Not to find an appropriate way to fight will only perpetuate the problems for you and others.   Trying to understanding what psychological factors make this person do what he does will be of little help.  You will not change this person. You can only manage your responses to his behavior, which may cause him to alter some of his destructive behaviors.

Do You Have High Level Contacts You Can Talk to About the Bully?

If you have top management personnel who are approachable, use them.  First explain the situation in terms of specific examples and behaviors, not general frustrations and complaints.  Ask for their advice.  Do not assume they do not know about this person or what this person has been doing.  Listen carefully to the feedback you get. It may be supportive of the bully’s style of managing.  (Bullies can get things done by being intimidating and threatening, although it is only temporary.  The lack of collaboration will cause the loss of good personnel and ultimately reduce the productivity.)  When upper management understands and evidences support for you, they may suggest some things to try.  These must be done before you fight the bully in any other way.

When All Else Fails

When the stakes are high enough and diplomatic means do not work (they seldom do with bullies), you must decide whether you have the commitment to carry on what may be a very long battle.  Know yourself and how well you handle stress.  (Bullies don’t give up, they fight to win, no matter what they have to do!).  Will you have to go it alone, others may be too fearful to side with you and may side with the bully so he will not be as likely to attack them (even if they can’t stand him).  If you can’t tolerate the fight you may have to look for employment elsewhere).

When You Feel You Are Ready To Take On The Bully

Although there is no definitive approach that is guaranteed to be successful with all bullies, this article will provide you with some suggestions of what is involved in managing your responses to the BULLY in your workplace.  Remember:  Only You Can Prevent Bullies From Controlling Your Job, Your Reputation and Your Career!

I wish to express my appreciation to the readers sharing their stories and expressing an interest our writing abut this topic.  Please send your questions.  We will respond to all inquiries.  Thank you very much. 

For further information or a consultation to help coach someone on dealing with the BULLY they have to face daily, contact Paul Kenneth Glass, Ph.D. at pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com  Dr. Glass can be reached by phone at (262) 544-6486.

About the Author

Paul Kenneth Glass, Ph.D. is a Harvard and Northwestern University educated psychologist, and has studied in three countries. He has provided 25 years of consultations to government agencies, public and private businesses, and educational institutions and was a union president and negotiator. His advising to international corporations offers the benefit of multicultural understanding of organizations that is rare in the field of business psychology consulting. Finally, Dr. Glass has experience on the equal opportunity commission of a large suburban city.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. Paul Glass is available for consultation or coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. He may be reached at (262) 544-9918 (office) by e-mail at mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com or:

Paul Kenneth Glass, Ph.D.
Psychology for Business
2717 North Grandview Boulevard, Suite 303
Waukesha, Wisconsin, 53188

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. We offer coaching either onsite or by telephone. To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour consultation.  Or request a price sheet to determine the best value for your organization.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com.

NEW and FREE! 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Coach is now available for download only to readers of PSYCHOLOGY FOR BUSINESS by clicking on the title or visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/questions.htm. Also receive your FREE copy of  9 Ways to Motivate Your Workforce by clicking on the title or visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/motivate.htm If you are interested in having Dr. Weaver speak for your organization, contact him at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com?subject=SPEAK .

 All of our previous newsletters are archived at http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/eNewsletter.htm.  Check out the series on The Vitamin C’s of an Emotionally Healthy Workplace, the series on Dealing with Difficult Employees, links to our Published Articles and our newest series, Triple "A" Leadership.


o order your copy of the book, MANAGING DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point. Send orders to:

Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188   

Email: mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

To order the booklet: 41 WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF YOUR WORKPLACE, by Dr. John Weaver send a check for $6 and a self-addressed, double stamped business size envelope to:

Dr. John Weaver
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188

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© Copyright 2002All rights reserved. Paul Kenneth Glass. Distribution rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. If you would like to reprint part of this newsletter please contact me at mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com to make arrangements.


Sharing this newsletter with colleagues and friends, under these conditions, is encouraged.


If you have a question or topic you would like to see covered, send your request to mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

Dr. John Weaver publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.