Helping You Cope With & Stop



Why Does the Bully Get Away With It?

A common scenario:

Divide and conquer. Who said that? It’s been said many times as a strategy of war. Bullies do just that. Bullies know full well that once a target’s support and community are removed they have a winning chance of being able to continue the bullying. Bullies separate you from general information, social situations, your peers, tools to do your job, affection and admiration and well deserved acknowledgement and praise. They actively create a culture where you feel ‘less than’.

Here is something you must know now! This is a bullying tactic. Bullies strive to divide. So when you feel less than, what do you do?  Go to your boss?  Not likely. The Workplace Bullying Institute and many other researchers note that over 80% of bullying occurs with one’s boss and furthermore, targets don’t feel comfortable beating a path to HR either. Therefore, targets are often left to share their experiences with their co-workers. Employees tend to leave bosses; but employees stay because of their relationships with their co-workers. We rely on our peers to get us through the rough times. But, there is a problem in that too! Watch this short video to see why:

“Why The Bully Gets Away With Their Behavior” (2:53)

So what can you do? Your organization? It takes everyone’s accountable behavior for each of us to experience a Bully Free at Work workplace. Many organizations have asked us how they can get their teams to be empowered and accountable to stop workplace bullying. Remember, people can’t care about what they don’t know about! Find out what has been our most requested resource:

Most Requested Resource

Creating a workplace policy to not tolerate workplace bullying is great but only the beginning. Accountability to the policy only happens when you have everyone empowered to stand up and actively stop such behaviors. If you want your manager or supervisor to know about this, remember you can always ask “I wouldn’t mind your opinion on this”! Why not get a study group together and ‘just start’? Imagine where your confidence could be by the end of the year. You deserve to get ‘back’ to the way you’d like life to be.

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5 responses to “Why Does the Bully Get Away With It?”

  1. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    A very detailed addition – there is so much to this issue and an entire book can be written about each of these areas. I do into more detail in my book, Bully Free at Work and a lot of what you have written and shared here is often true. Thank you for taking the time to add. The key is to be aware of the reality – to have measured and careful steps. It would be great if it were different. Being aware of the actual reality is job #1.

  2. elaine says:

    I believe the real reasons why bullies get away with their bullying behaviour are manifold, and are things that we tend not to admit to. I’ve been badly bullied at work in the past, and I think that bullies get away with it for the following reasons: 1. Bullies are often bosses, supervisors or managers – therefore they are in a position of power. They wanted this power, because it gives them the opportunity to bully people who are below them in rank (or sometimes equal in rank). Bullies enjoy power, it makes them feel special and “big”; therefore many workplace bullies are the sort of people who seek rapid promotion. They are often the people who come across as confident to the point of cocky, as pushy, as very ambitious to the point of greedy. They will do anything, and step on anyone’s toes, to get power. 2.Bullies are excellent liars and fakers – they know just what to do or say to make them look innocent, credible, responsible, reliable, believable. Bullies are very good at working out who they need to con or impress, and then “brown tonguing” them. They are “two faced”, and put on a very convincing act when they need to. They seek to suck up to people senior to them, but are very different toward people equal in rank, or below them. 3. Because many bystanders, and people who observe bullying, are either cowards and do not stand up to the bully, or else they fear becoming the bully’s next victim, so they fail to speak out. People know that bullies are vicious and cruel, and they don’t want to be on the wrong side of the bully, so they will often stay silent about bullying in the hope that this will mean the bully does not pick on them. 4. Because in my experience, HR departments often do NOT do enough to help the victims of bullying; either because they are ignorant in respect of bullying, or, because they know that to admit that their company has a problem with bullying is a huge issue in its own right. In their eyes, it is easier to keep quiet about an awkward subject, than to tackle it. 5. Because bullies, being good liars, fakers and “brown tonguers” know that they have to suck up to staff in the HR department. Most bullies can work out that staff complaints usually reach the HR department to get sorted out, thus they will try to ensure that anyone in HR only sees them at their best. In organizations where no HR department exists, and managers sort out disputes, bullies will automatically suck up to them. 6. Because bullies are very good at denying the truth, and hiding evidence, at fabricating evidence, at destroying any record that shows evidence of their bullying. They may openly lie in response to questioning, and when faced with evidence, they will deny the truth of it. If given the chance, they may deliberately destroy evidence (e.g.) A victim keeps notes that record bullying incidents by her boss, so whilst she is on leave, the boss opens her desk and destroys the notebook. On her return to work the victim is told that cleaning staff must accidentally have come across the notebook and lost it. Bullies will also fabricate evidence that supports them (e.g. A bully may use their friends as “witnesses” during any disciplinary investigation, even though the friends actually witnessed nothing. Or, a bully may accuse a victim of being “stressed” or “mentally ill” and therefore of making up accusations of bullying, or of being oversensitive).7. Because bullies are devious, and any bullying that they do goes on “behind closed doors”. Bullies do not tend to like to have many witnesses, therefore they will try to ensure that as few people as possible see the bullying that they carry out. This means that often, it is only the victim’s word against the bully’s. 8. Because when bullies are exposed, they are very keen to use “smear tactics” to discredit the victim. They may claim the victim is just “stressed”, or is “over sensitive”, “could not take a joke”, or is “mentally ill”. They may claim that the victim was actually the one who started the problem, by doing something to the bully, so they “deserved it”. They may claim that the victim is “making it up” and that “nobody else saw anything”. They may suggest that the victim is “not being bullied” but that he or she just “cannot cope with strong management”, or is “not up to the job”. Some bullies may even say that THEY are the victim, and that they are “being bullied”. Indeed, bullies will do and say pretty much anything to ensure that their victims do not appear believable.9. Because some businesses and organizations would rather get rid of the victim of bullying as quickly as possible, to keep it quiet, rather than tackle the bully. Actually sorting out a bullying issue takes time and money, which some employers just do not want to spend!10. Because there is far too little legal protection for victims. There are no laws to criminalize bullying, and so punishment is nowhere near severe enough. Victims often have to report bullying to organizational hierarchies that can be complicated in themselves, or can lead to complicated disciplinary processes being followed. These processes can be stressful and intimidating for the victims of bullying, who often do not wish to face, or even see, the bully again. If the matter reaches an Employment Tribunal, this process can be terrifying for bullying victims, as it is complex, very procedural, and it seems like a courtroom. Also, there is little support like legal aid available. Bullying victims often have to rely on help from Unions, which may be overstretched and under-resourced. Furthermore, bullying in its own right is NOT something that you can take to an Employment Tribunal; it has to be bullying or harassment on the grounds of discrimination (e.g. racial, sexual, disability). What about people whose bullying does not fit these criteria?

  3. Vina says:

    It’s really great that you are sharing this information.

  4. Noreen says:

    Because HR departments are trying FIX the problem, and when they do they create an escalation of issues. The Bully will meet with them and act very concerned, caring, sometimes apologetic. They will assure the HR person (or boss) that they will make every effort to make it work. They are not doing those things (if they can deny them) or were not aware how it made the other person feel. They may make up things about the target to justify their attitudes. They are REALLY good at convincing the HR or Boss that it’s the Target who is too sensitive, dramatic, and the one with the problem. Once back in the office (after the fact) it may get better for awhile, but then the payback begins. They get sneakier and try to do things less obvious. The bully escalates in other ways. The situation does not get better. MOVING the persons involved if no physical threatening bullying is going on, or if it is getting rid of the bully is the only answer. Most companies say things like “This is so childish.” Well THAT makes the target feel like they should have just kept their mouth shut. Most targets end up leaving.

  5. Carol says:

    For the second time in my career I am faced with a female supervisor who is a bully. The help from Human Resources on a Marine Corps Base was terrible. They protect the bully. I see that unless bullying is covered under Equal Employment Opportunity as a form of discrimination we will not get anywhere in stopping this disease so rampant in the workplace. Is anything being done to address that?

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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

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