Here’s how the Persecutor (aka bully) stays in charge until someone (as in you) or (as in me) says STOP.
First a true story:
Dina told me in our coaching session that she did not think of herself as pretty. A bit overweight and with, as she said, dull, wispy hair she was always one of the last to be picked for teams in school and the last to be sought out at school dances to slide gracefully around the room with a prince charming.
When her boss would wink at her and tell semi stupid and semi lewd jokes she would laugh with delight.
At least someone was paying attention to her.
She felt seen and heard.
That was all she needed.
And then, the boundaries started to loosen. He would make demands on her, sometimes raising his voice and other times sweet talking with more stupid jokes. Eventually, his hands would casually swat her on her rump. Later you will see how Dina decided to face her fear and take a stand.
First, from my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” you can see that big shot persecutors are all cut from a similar cloth. They are bullies who love to control and micromanage. They tend to display contempt for others, usually through verbal abuse and sheer exploitation.
Sexual harassment is simply taking what is theirs to begin with, or so they think.
How did these men (and women) become the way they are?
First, let’s add to the list of difficult behavior. And while I’m outlining, think of who you know who behaves this way, or maybe even look into a mirror.
Persecutors need to:
- Feel important
- Dominate conversations
- Talk about themselves all the time
- Find fault with others
- Don’t admit mistakes
- Point fingers of blame
- Enjoy watching people fail
- Withhold information
- Ignore any degree of protocol or etiquette
I have spent years looking for the antidote to the persecutors poison. First, the need to understand. I didn’t’ say forgive, I said understand.
Persecutors and bullies were not born into the role. Oh no, it was something they learned at a very young age.
Often, they had little alternative than to fight to be heard. They are afraid that if they show their “soft side” they will be annihilated. They had parents or caretakers who beat the crap out of them.
The other side of the persecutor-bully is that they had parents who were unavailable and gave over their adult responsibilities to the son or daughter who jumped in to take care of their siblings. In this way, the bully learned to make demands to get things done.
They learned to boss other around and it became the internal pattern for success. No matter what they look like physically, they see themselves and are seen by others as “large and in charge.”
In this video you can learn how to talk with a persecutor and begin the process of helping them change into a visionary leader.
Think of it this way, they are often wagging their index finger at you in their nasty manner. If they can just take all that angry energy and point their finger upwards, they can transform to become a visionary.
Most of the time they know a better way, they are just caught in old baggage that weighs them down.
Now, back to Dina.
Once she was able to see her bully boss as a kid who had the wright of the world on his shoulders and who didn’t have a clue on how to behave kindly she stopped being furious. She did go to human resources with a complaint. But wait, there’s more. She also, with an HR representative, decided to talk with her boss directly. She told him how uncomfortable he made her feel and also acknowledged that he had to now begin to sort out why he acted the way he did.
Initially it looked like either she would be fired or he would have to leave.
Because of her courage to address the issue and not let it fester for years, she grew stronger and he had a choice to seek counseling if he was to stay in his job.
Within a year, Dina was promoted, not to get her away from her boss, she was promoted because she had the courage of her convictions to say what she meant and do what she said.
And her boss, he was held accountable and yet, given the opportunity to change his ways.
They don’t see much of each other anymore. However, they both acknowledge that their relationship changed both of them for the better.