One of the biggest obstacles that hinders leadership from intervening in workplace bullying is one simple question. Who does the leader believe, the target or the bully? Workplace bullying often becomes a she said/she said or a he said/he said scenario and leaders do not know who is telling the truth. This is understandable because aggression can be extremely subtle and covert making it difficult for leadership to detect. However, leaders need to understand persistent workplace aggression so they can decipher the truth about what is going on in their organization.

In the workplace, bullies use different words and rhetoric from that of a target. Leaders need to develop excellent active listening skills so they can know the difference. Bullies often use language that blames others for their behavior. The bully will accuse other people, mostly the target, for what is happening and they will not take responsibility for any part of the organizational dysfunction. 

When asked about mistreatment of their colleagues, aggressors use phrases such as, “I am the one who is being bullied.” “I am not responsible for bad behavior because I am a good professional.” Or, “there is nothing wrong with our environment, the target is just making waves.”

On the other hand, the target will use statements such as “What can I do to help change the environment?” “I just want the workplace improve, so what can I do to make it better.” Or, “I will do my part and change what I can.”

A bully considers themselves a victim and will make no attempt to fix the environment. Targets generally want to improve the workplace and their statements emphasize a desire to so. This is a key difference for leaders to understand as they intervene in the workplace. Bullies blame others and do not see anything wrong with the current environment. Targets want the workplace to improve and are willing to help with this process. Bullies want to maintain the status quo because they do not want to lose their power and control.

Workplace bullies are skilled liars and manipulators and will continue to do so when confronted with being an aggressor. Unfortunately, many leaders fall victim to the lies and fabrications of the bully and therefore, they tend to believe the bully over the target. However, leaders need to remember that they are responsible for the overall work environment and taking sides without thoroughly investigating all the facts is not acceptable. They need to take allegations of bullying seriously and fact check what the bully says because they will continue to be deceitful. Leaders to be diligent about finding out exactly what is happening in their organization. For example, if a target has accused the aggressor of sending inappropriate emails and the bully says that they did not, a leader can retrieve and view emails to verify who is telling the truth.

This week, I encourage you to actively listen to what is being said in your work environment and identify areas where you can intervene to ensure a positive, healthy, workplace.

If you or the organization you work for is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there.



05/26/2017 2:04am

Bullies are bullies for a reason. It is a psychological effect of something bigger. It is maybe arised from the need of the bully to take control of a situation or to take control of someone. It can also be because of a past experience of the bully which makes him want to take revenge to the society and innocent people.


Well in reality I'll sort of agree with you in here. Well, there should be no sides chosen unless the proof is already being set in. But it is actually hard to determine who really is telling the truth. Workplace bullying is really a big issue at work. This really causes a lot on the victim while the bullied is either having fun or there's a big reason behind it. It is unseen unless the victim directly tells the organization what's happening but the investigation is surely gping to happen.


Thank you for keep sharing these helpful tips with us.

10/23/2017 11:10pm

The integrity of the company and its employees is the basis of behavior and attitude in business in order to gain trust from each other. If you are afraid your employees are playing a price in the tender or selection of car rental companies for your company.


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply