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Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong(Ps. 37:1) 

Bullying is no longer something we left behind in the school playground. It is becoming a distressing fact of life in many avenues of work.  There are now sites devoted to coping with this phenomenon, such as The Workplace Bullying Institute, which has a selection of articles and blogs designed to help victims.

What follows are the thoughts of Robert Greene, author of, among other books, The 48 Laws of Power.  Greene had a blog which he recently closed called Power, Seduction and War.  In it he covered power dynamics in various situations and had a particularly interesting post on work entitled ‘The Psychotic Boss’.  He wrote it in 2006, about the time when I, too, began noticing a sea-change in, as they say, ‘man management’.

Here’s a taster:

Let me spell it out: with the psychotic boss, nothing you do is ever quite right. They set traps, asking you to do things, and no matter how hard you think of accomplishing it in their way, it is wrong and you are to blame. This tends to instill a lot of fear in you. (The effect of unpredictability I describe in one of the laws of power.) There will be occasional explosions of anger, not too often, but which will stay in your mind for weeks. They start to occupy much of your mental space, as you go home thinking of what you did wrong, what you can do in the future, how to please, or deflect punishment. It starts to consume you. Nothing you do seems to improve the situation.

These types tend to be quite babyish and act real helpless. They are slightly disorganized. You must pay them a lot of attention, get them things that normal people could do for themselves. You must constantly think of their needs. One thing that is particularly maddening about them is that for others they generally present a pleasant façade. You will often be the only one to witness their ugliness, which makes it all the harder to complain to anyone about them.

I have found that a lot of these types can be very liberal; they are the ones supporting the best causes, standing up for women’s rights, or whatever it is that will enhance their appearance. This helps them justify to themselves their private nastiness to you. You are like a sacrificial victim to their power.

Female psychotic bosses can be particularly devilish. They will tend to mix in a lot of passive aggression, making you feel guilty for all kinds of things …

He’s right — they are definitely left-wing and espouse all the correct causes.  And, yes, they come across nice as pie.  They are generally disorganised and helpless: ‘Oh, print that out for me [something you’ve emailed to them!], would you?’  You wouldn’t be wrong for ending up disliking them.  In fact, Greene goes so far as to:

link these people in the WAR book to terrorists. They are using the same kind of strategy–inflicting a form of psychological terror that is larger than any physical or real threat. You find these types in relationships. You also find children now who use this strategy back at their parents, screaming and yelling with great violence. It becomes almost impossible to deal with, and so your only answer is to give in to them, to stop the terrorizing. Of course, this only feeds the process.

You can read a list of Greene’s 48 Laws of Power, which are modeled on Machiavelli and Sun-Tzu.  Most do not follow biblical precepts, although a few do, such as those which rely on wisdom, discernment and humility (I have supplied a selection of related Bible verses below — if you would like to cite others, please feel free to comment):

Law 1 Never Outshine the Master (Job 32:4-7, 1 Peter 5:5)

Law 4 Always Say Less than Necessary (Prov. 14:23, Matt. 12:36-37, 1 Tim. 5:13

Law 5 So Much Depends on Reputation. Guard It with Your Life (Prov. 22:1, 1 Cor. 15:33, 1 Tim. 4:16, Titus 2:7-8)

Law 10 Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky (1 Tim. 4:7, James 4:1)

Law 19 Know Who You’re Dealing With. Do Not Offend the Wrong Person (Prov. 19:1-3, Prov. 19:29Eph. 6:7-8)

Law 26 Keep Your Hands Clean (Amos 8:5, 1 Thess. 4:6-7, 1 Tim. 6:10)

Law 29 Plan All the Way to the End (Prov. 6:6-11, Prov. 20:18)

Law 36 Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is the Best Revenge (Gen. 3:6-7, Prov. 15:27Eccl. 1:2, Luke 12:15)

Law 46 Never Appear Perfect (2 Sam. 9:8, 2 Chron. 34:27)

Law 47 Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop (Gen. 11:4, Eccl. 2:4-11

Of course, you may be in ‘combat’, but don’t be surprised if the bully wins in the end unless there is some form of divine intervention through ‘events’.  The bully knows his tactics better than you and has probably been honing them since childhood. 

If you are a victim, keep going with the help of frequent prayer and Bible study.  Also get your CV in shape and start applying for other jobs. 

Tomorrow: Analysing bullying in the ‘caring’ professions 

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