Why People Bully

by Jan 30, 2018

Last December, I did something that I never thought I’d do.

I defended “workplace bullies.”

Like many people, I thought people who engaged in workplace bullying were awful people… the academic research I’d read said they were. Everyone online said they were, too.

But then, academic researchers started realizing only about eight years ago that all of their research was through the eyes of targets. They’d been asking targets if people who bullied were malicious, and of course the answer was yes.

And then, I got certified in a specialized coaching method developed by Dr. Laura Crawshaw, who’d been coaching these individuals for 30 years. She’s been defending them all along.

In December, I posted the video below on LinkedIn – and things got ugly.

People were saying “workplace bullies” have psychological problems. And they were saying they have malicious intent.

And I defended the “bullies.” Passionately, forcefully, and wholeheartedly.

The comments got so ugly I had to take the post down.

I know if you’ve been bullied it feels awful. I’ve been there. But I’ve also looked at this phenomenon from more sides than my own. I’ve learned that people engage in bullying because they live in utter fear of being seen as incompetent.

I’ve also learned they are very hurt and saddened to learn that their behavior has caused so much pain.

So, here is the video I posted on LinkedIn, that I ultimately took down. I’m entrusting you to watch it with an open-mind. I am going to re-post it on LinkedIn, and we’ll see what happens…

P.S. If you want to learn more about what drives abrasive leaders, what the process of coaching entails, and the three steps you can follow to intervene as a manager or HR, sign up for my webinar on February 8 at 1 pm PST.

See you there!


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

3 Savvy Ways to Spend Your Budget Surplus

It’s halfway through the year, and for some companies, the fiscal year is wrapping up, leaving them with an unexpected budget surplus.  While it might be tempting to funnel these extra funds into new equipment or throw after-hours parties, there's a more strategic...

Implicit Bias Training That Works

A significant barrier to achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce is implicit bias. Implicit bias occurs when, for instance, you hear the word "engineer" and immediately assume it is a man, or hear "teacher" and assume it is a woman. Have you ever been guilty of...

Over 50% of Workers Now Value Balance and Belonging Over Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Yesterday, I came across research by Randstad and it really got me thinking about how much the workplace landscape is changing. This study included insights from 27,000 workers worldwide and what really caught my attention was that nearly half of the respondents—47%,...

Your Culture Matters as Much as Your Legal Compliance

Legal compliance serves as the bedrock of any organization. While it lays the foundation, a positive workplace culture breathes life into your organization. A strong, supportive culture fosters employee engagement, boosts morale, and enhances productivity.  This...

How We Create Respectful Work Cultures

For the past 15 years, we have been dedicated to transforming toxic workplace cultures and fostering positive environments through executive coaching, corporate training, and large-scale culture change projects. We’ve serviced over 250 clients and their thousands of...

42% of employees would QUIT over political disagreements

Is it appropriate to restrict employees from expressing their political views at work? On the one hand, you want people to feel free to express themselves. But then, you don't want those water cooler chats to turn into full-blown political showdowns. According to a...

Why Retaining Top Talent is More Difficult Than Ever

Finding and keeping great employees can be tough for companies all over. With changes in employee expectations, advancements in technology, and shifts in the job market, it's a real challenge. In 2019, a whopping 42 million U.S. workers alone said "so long" to their...

Can Your Corporate Culture Influence Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is a serious concern for organizations worldwide. While there are many reasons why it happens, one thing that doesn't get enough attention is the company culture itself. How people act and treat each other at work can make violence more or less...

How to Utilize Culture Surveys for Cultural Change

Surveys are a wonderful resource for measuring the success of culture change. Many clients approach us with the awareness of a cultural problem…but an inability to identify the cause. And that’s where we step in, often using survey scores as an identifier.  Let’s take...

Microaggressions Can Become Part of an Organization’s Culture. Here’s Why

We're talking a lot about making sure everyone feels included and respected in the workplace. But sometimes, it's not the big, obvious stuff that makes people feel excluded and disrespected - it's the little things. We have likely all experienced situations where...