Observation is the first O of the OODA acronym (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). Last time, we examined some general properties of counter-bullying strategies, focusing on the inner state of the target and the nature of effective counterattacks. But counterattacks can be much more effective when based on a clear understanding of the entire situation, and that requires accurate information about the bully, the organization, and the legal environment in the relevant jurisdiction. And that's where Observation becomes important. Here are some tactics and strategies for targets, emphasizing situational awareness.
- Exploit situational awareness
- Targets have an edge if they have a thorough understanding of the bully's history, behavior, and plans. Also valuable are the stances and actions (or often, the inactions) of bystanders, other targets, the bully's supervisor, the target's own supervisor, and the HR department. When formulating counterattacks, it all helps.
- Targets can attack the bully in many domains: at work, in the local community, in the professional community, in court — whatever works, within the law. That's why it's helpful for targets to know their legal rights, what's needed for legal action, and how to gather evidence. The legal route isn't easy, but it's a route nonetheless.
- Degrade the bully's situational awareness
- Targets can also work to degrade the bully's own situational awareness. They can accomplish this by neutralizing the bully's resources, or by using those resources to confuse the bully.
- For instance, many targets, or their allies, telegraph to bullies that they "aren't going to take it anymore." Revealing this change in stance is counter-productive. Targets who have allies can impress upon them the importance of depriving the bully of any information about the target's intentions or state of mind.
- Deceive and disinform the bully
- Targets can deliver disinformation to the bully, directly or indirectly, keeping in mind that effective disinformation requires knowing the truth well enough to create plausible deceptions. See "Biological Mimicry and Workplace Bullying," Point Lookout for March 31, 2010, for an example.
- Even better: build relationships with allies of the bully. Converting a bully's ally to a target's ally, or to a neutral, can help to degrade the bully's overall situational information quality.
- Know your own vulnerabilities
- Targets Targets engaging in counterattacks
can sometimes expose their own
vulnerabilities inadvertentlyengaging in counterattacks can sometimes expose their own vulnerabilities inadvertently. For instance, a counterattack in the domain of the professional community might motivate the bully to do something similar, or to mount an attack in the domain of the local community.
- Targets should carefully assess their own vulnerabilities in any domain in which the bully might mount an attack. Upon discovering a vulnerability, targets would do well to take steps to remove it or conceal it, and to conceal any indications of its prior existence.
Finally, if counterattacks fail, escape might be necessary. There are other jobs. Knowing what alternatives are available, and keeping that knowledge current, might be the best path to ending the bullying. First in this series Top Next Issue
Are you being targeted by a workplace bully? Do you know what to do to end the bullying? Workplace bullying is so widespread that a 2014 survey indicated that 27% of American workers have experienced bullying firsthand, that 21% have witnessed it, and that 72% are aware that bullying happens. Yet, there are few laws to protect workers from bullies, and bullying is not a crime in most jurisdictions. 101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies is filled with the insights targets of bullying need to find a way to survive, and then to finally end the bullying. Also available at Apple's iTunes store! Just USD 9.99. Order Now!
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More articles on Workplace Bullying:
- Workplace Bullying and Workplace Conflict: I
- Bullying is unlike other forms of toxic conflict. That's why the tools we use to address toxic conflict
simply do not work for bullying. In this Part I, we contrast bullying and ordinary toxic conflict.
- Workplace Bullying and Workplace Conflict: II
- Of the tools we use to address toxic conflict, many are ineffective for ending bullying. Here's a review
of some of the tools that don't work well and why.
- When the Chair Is a Bully: I
- Most meetings have chairs or "leads." Although the expression that the chair "owns"
the meeting is usually innocent shorthand, some chairs actually believe that they own the meeting. This
view is almost entirely destructive. What are the consequences of this attitude, and what can we do about it?
- The Paradox of Structure and Workplace Bullying
- Structures of all kinds — organizations, domains of knowledge, cities, whatever — are both
enabling and limiting. To gain more of the benefits of structure, while avoiding their limits, it helps
to understand this paradox and learn to recognize its effects.
- Social Isolation and Workplace Bullying
- Social isolation is a tactic widely used by workplace bullies. What is it? How do bullies use it? Why
do bullies use it? What can targets do about it?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 26: Appearance Antipatterns: I
- Appearances can be deceiving. Just as we can misinterpret the actions and motivations of others, others can misinterpret our own actions and motivations. But we can take steps to limit these effects. Available here and by RSS on June 26.
- And on July 3: Appearance Antipatterns: II
- When we make decisions based on appearance we risk making errors. We create hostile work environments, disappoint our customers, and create inefficient processes. Maintaining congruence between the appearance and the substance of things can help. Available here and by RSS on July 3.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
Beware any resource that speaks of "winning" at workplace politics or "defeating" it. You can benefit or not, but there is no score-keeping, and it isn't a game.