An addiction is a compulsive habit, a dependence or need for something. A pompous bully is addicted to fame, adulation and adoration from others. As with all addictions, it is an obsession for something one cannot live without. A pompous bully cannot live without these aspects of life present and when they do not come naturally and in abundance from the people around them, they’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ to feed their addiction to their need for praise, to be seen as ‘the best’ and to maintain a sense of control ahead of others.
You may have come across someone who displayed pompous bully behaviors at work or in a volunteer capacity. Research tells us that only 1% of the population suffers from narcissistic personality disorder; however, there are people we interact with on a daily basis that leave us confused and bewildered who display traits of the narcissistic personality disorder.
Here are some traits of a Pompous Bully. Have you experienced this?
They appear as larger than life; that they have ‘done it all’ and they want you to believe that they ‘have it all’. At first you are sitting in admiration, maybe even awe. You get a little closer and this person keeps professing they ‘have all the bases covered’. You begin to believe in their cause, their ways and start to fold into their vision and ideals. Why? Because in this honeymoon phase, while you are in ‘awe’ the bully observes this in you, and becomes addicted to the fact you are ‘listening to and admiring’ them. They play the game of ‘I’ll impress you in exchange for your admiration, praise and attention’. You may be impressed with this person at first. Be aware: you are under an illusion and they used their ‘smooth talk’ to get you on side in the first place.
Then you start to gain confidence and strength in your own abilities and insights; or you’ve always had strength in this area, but it is time for you to come forward now. You apply your skills and leadership and as soon as you do, you are thwarted all of a sudden. Why? Because the bully is incapable of sharing the sandbox. It’s a sandbox for one. You are sad and confused. Why doesn’t this person applaud you when you do well? Well, it was never about the essence of a team. It was about getting one more person on board to admire them.
Then you may begin to pull away to develop ideas and plans on your own. Maybe you have a great idea you want to implement. Maybe you’re not even within the same organization as this bully, but you are someone in the same field. As soon as you pull ahead and have something to share or give, this bully’s first order of operation is to attack you. They might not even have listened to or researched what you are doing; they just cannot stand to have someone else in ‘their’ sandbox. If you pull away or if you are spending your time on your work and offerings as opposed to hanging on the bully’s coat-tails applauding their efforts, they will see this as a massive dishonor and lack of loyalty towards them. They will see you as competition (isn’t it okay to be on the same side?) and they’ll be sure to display this ‘lack of loyalty’ into a public notification. They’ll tell everyone they can how much they gave to you, or how much they deserve to be in the number one spot and you don’t…how dare you! Furthermore, the bully will call down your capabilities, credentials and character to whomever will listen! Sometimes the bully hasn’t even met their competition but they’ll cleverly create a slanderous campaign against you so you will back down.
In addition, Tim Field, former workplace bullying researcher, states: “The bully has a compulsive need to control things you say, do, think and believe; for example, they will launch an immediate personal attack attempting to restrict what you are permitted to say if you start talking knowledgeably about their poor behavior in their presence. They will do so aggressively and they’ll maintain the right to talk (usually without a knowledgeable understanding) about anything they choose. They despise anyone who enables others to see through their deception and their mask of sanity. They also display a compulsive need to criticize whilst simultaneously refusing to value, praise and acknowledge you or others with regard to your achievements and your presence. In fact the bully gains gratification in denying people what they were entitled to.”
Then…if and when you don’t back down, they’ll start to copy you! You may have worked hard to develop a certain plan, project or idea. This bully will steal your ideas and plans right from under your nose! They’ll say they came up with ‘it’…that they were the originator. If the bully is a competitor, they’ll spy on you in order to plan their next move. This is what a parrot does; copies. Who wants to follow a parrot? But for the target, you can be left confused, hurt and wondering why this is happening to you. Remember right from day one, the bully was never interested in working ‘with’ you. They wanted something from you: for you to stay small and sit and praise them while they continued to tell the world they were the ‘best’ the ‘most trusted’ the ‘only’. Says who? By the way, who decides this? Pompous bullies are self-appointed vigilantes who try to scam the world into believing they’ve earned their way to these positions. I think Churchill said it best: “If you have to tell someone you’re a lady; you ain’t”!”
Then…the bully becomes obsessed with having power and control over you, they start to lie about you, pinning you as incompetent, not worthy and altogether useless; and they are very crafty in getting others on their bandwagon. Bullies have been known to stretch the truth way out of proportion in order to gain some kind of following. They will also play the victim by saying they’ve worked harder, longer and with more input. The problem here is many people do not research the facts and end up by following the ‘loudest and most pressing voice’ unless someone else speaks up to the contrary. Bullies will secretly attack you through spreading rumors to those who do not know you in order to turn even more people away from you. It justifies their position of self-righteousness. (Note: many people who have been turned against the target by the bully’s non-truths, innuendos and gossip about you, very often do not do their own homework. In fact much later, these people have said they too ‘were puzzled by the bully’s accusations’ in retrospect and that they were not even sure at the time the target deserved that type of treatment, yet they gave way to the bully at the time. Yes, they were under a spell by a pompous bully.
Needless to say, the pompous bully is incapable to having true sincere peers and colleagues. They can only exist if they have the upper hand. Ever notice you’ve not really had this person cheer you on (unless they felt they were above you)? Ever receive a sincere compliment? Ever been asked your opinion? Maybe, but it was only to position the bully; it was never for you. The bully is incapable of empathy, remorse, concern and the concept of a shared existence. If they appear to be collegial and reach out to you, it is only and ever only for something they want later on. The pompous bully does know what they are doing and the only thing that will change the landscape is for someone of a higher authority to come along and redefine the rules and policies sandbox and to hold bullying behavior accountable in order for everyone to be able to play fairly.
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Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to http://www.BullyFreeAtWork.com
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