October 14, 2012
Bullies and Bees
During playtime in kindergarten, two girls were discussing how one was being
bullied. They had both moved into a private corner so as to avoid observation. Imagine the
feelings of these young people. A bully had altered their calm and ordered lives. While in
this corner, the girl that had been bullied noticed a bee buzzing near. The bee frightened
her very much. The other young girl tried to protect the bullied timid one from the bee by
standing in front of the timid girl and closer to the bee.
She whispered, “Stay still, don’t move,” to the timid girl. The bee continued to buzz
and landed on the nose of the protective girl, it buzzed a little more and flew away.While
the tension dispensed the timid girl was asked by the protective girl, “what are you afraid
of more: the bully or the bee?”
Bullies have become as prevalent in society as bees. The power of these bullies is
repeatedly mentioned in accord with business. Who are bullies, what do they do, who are
their victims, and how can they be diminished?
Shapiro provides a concept of bullies. “Bullies . . . believe . . . that they have the
power to bully” (114).Further definitions provide further understanding of bullies in the
“The Workforce Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI) defines bullying as
‘repeated illegitimate mistreatment of a targeted employee by one or more
persons characterized by acts of commission and omission which impair the
target’s psychological and physical health and economic security.’”(Haley
While “[a]n informal survey across the corporate world revealed a definite presence of
bullying.” It also includes a description of common bullies in the workplace. Bullying “. . . is
commensurate with the perpetrator's qualification, training, experience and
Along with those words the same article says “[T]he basic purpose of bullying is to
hide inadequacy”(Workplace).“The two key factors to our conceptualization of workplace
bullying are the repetition of the bullying event and the fact that the behavior is unwanted
as it causes psychological stress” (Heames).“In 2000 . . . WBTI conducted . . . a research
project on workplace bullying, . . . The study found that bullying is evenly split between
men and women—half of all bullies are women and half are men. However most of the
victims (77 percent) were women.” (Haley 193)
Information in “[t]he survey found that 81 percent of bullies were at least one level
of management above their victims. One in seven bullies (14 percent) were the same rank
as the victim” (Haley 193).“Someone who isn’t nice, who doesn’t try to be nice, or who
doesn’t care whether other people think he or she is nice or not,” are defined as bullies
“Physical Aggression, Verbal abuse [including] . . . screaming, yelling, or
publicly humiliating[sic][c]onstantly criticizing or belittling[sic] tearing
down an employee’s confidence[sic] placing excessive emphasis on
unimportant details of the job[sic] controlling resources to prevent . . .
successfully completing projects[sic] gossiping about an employee,
manipulating others’ impression of a coworker, or criticizing an employee to
superiors or upper management” (Haley 192).
These are traits that demonstrate a bully’s attitude towards other people. And the
experiences of some individuals demonstrate the variety of bullying in the workplace.
“Fred Nachbaur . . . spent a year and a half as the assistant to a . . . marketing director
who scolded him in public . . . and left ‘gross’ half-eaten candy bars on his
desk”(Lynch).Fred’s replacement Pearson“was greeted each morning with a 15-page to-do
list” (Lynch). This bully also asked for other favors from her employee, and “afterPearson
received a small promotion, told her she didn’t deserve it”(Lynch).“Bullying is behind all
forms of harassment, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, persecution, conflict and violence”
The workplace with its intermix of people is a prime location for bullying to occur.
“A study by Wayne State University in 2000 estimated that 16.8 percent of American
workers experience bullying in the workplace” (Haley 192). A more recent survey
published by the Chartered Management Institute” determined that “middle managers are
most likely to be bullied” (Causon). The U.S. Hostile Workplace Study “survey [from 2000]
found that 84 percent of victims had either some college experience, an undergraduate
degree, or an advanced degree” (Haley 193).
Haley continues by discussing some of the reasons behind the bullying.
“The U.S. Hostile Workplace Study. . . asked respondents what caused the
bullying [the victims] experienced. In 58 percent of the cases, victims said
they were targeted because they resisted being controlled or dominated by
the perpetrator. Over half the victims also felt the bully envied their
competence at the job.” (193)
The actions of the bullies may demonstrate their lack of security at the workplace. As is
demonstrated by more facts and figures from the survey Haley used previously.
“Other frequently mentioned reasons for bullying include envy of the victims
popularity or social skills (49 percent), retaliation against the victim for
reporting unethical conduct by the perpetrator (46 percent), and the fact that
the bully had a ‘cruel personality’” (193)
And “[u]nlike everyday conflicts at work, bullying is a long-lasting conflict, where one
person is systematically harassed by one or more colleagues or superiors, resulting in
severe damage to the victim's psychological and physical health” (Workplace).
The actions of the bully might occur frequently, but the bully may never be
punished. In fact the bully may cause the victim to lose peace, security, and at times their
job.The toll extends beyond the life of the victim at work. “These behaviors take a physical
and psychological toll on their victims, but they also cost businesses millions of dollars in
lost productivity and legal costs“ (Haley 187).Businesses recognize this as is demonstrated
by “the startling comment from Tim Field, who manages the site [bully online, is] that ‘the
serial bully ... is the single most important threat to the effectiveness of
“A study of 9,000 federal employees in the US estimated the cost of workplace
bullying and harassment activities to be $180 million in production days annually”
(Heames).These costs are a large factor in dealing with bullies for businesses. The bullied
individual is not the only victim “the study, led by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik” notes that
“negative effects are widespread: employees who witness others being bullied suffer
secondary harm, reporting high levels of stress and low levels of work satisfaction”
(Journal). “It is vital that staff can report inappropriate behavior and be confident that the
issue will be dealt with” (Causon). Even though people say they will report abuse if they
know of it, Causoncontinues with information from the study, “38 percent of those who had
been bullied reported no action had been taken. . . The type of the organization and the
personality and style of those in positions of authority are all factors that should be taken
But “bullying at work is a problem that is gaining increasing recognition by
managers who are beginning to count the cost of workplace bullying in terms of
absenteeism, illness, quality reduction and even litigation” (Mann).The individual cost
might not seem that important, but Shapiro describes the why one of the victims continued
to live with the situation of being bullied.
“She needed the job. It paid well, very well . . . And the boss . . . knew it. So
she accepted what amounted to battle pay. He [her boss] felt he had bought
the right to abuse her. . .Virginia said she felt trapped, wanting to escape but
held hostage by money.” (110)
Shapiro writes of the one question that was asked to the woman who was suffering the
terrible boss. “Is the amount of abuse you are suffering worth the extra dollars?”
After considering this question she realigned her life and “rethought her priorities . .
. and found a way to budget her life on a lower income. That really changed the power
balance, because she now had a ‘walkaway position’”(115). Then this woman was provided
with “an audit of her value in the equation,” by the question “Realistically, what would
happen if you left?” (Shapiro 115).Shapiro shares her altered perspective. “Without her, his
life would be a shambles again” (115).
Shapiro goes on to describe how an understanding of a bully’s personality
will often help a person cope with and deal with their actions. “Diagnosis is 90 percent of
the cure. You have to know what –or who—you are suffering from before you can treat the
problem effectively” (21). An alternate view of reality might help an individual break out of
the victim mode. Shapiro describes asking a bullied victim, “What have you done to
balance the power? She couldn’t even fathom that she had a shred of power, let alone
enough to balance his,” but her options were altered because of this question (114).
Shapiro states, “[i]n fact, people only have power if we give it to them” (114). This helped
her “. . . open to the idea that there might be other employment alternatives . . . she was
taking back a good deal of his leverage and creating her own power” (114).
Facts and figures demonstrate the percentages of bullying, and the cost factors to
individuals and businesses from the bullying. The type of people who are bullies are often
ones who are not confronted with an alternate view of their power. Each victim suffers and
the suffering may be altered with the help of friends and compatriots. But there is power
that each victim has as Shapiro repeatedly mentions. Along with this, the strength that can
be gained from looking at the situation with an alternative view may cease any more
The first young victim saw a different picture after the experience with the bee.
When she was confronted with the bully again she started laughing. The bully said “why
are you laughing at me?” His previous victim said, “You don’t have a stinger, and you do
look like a bee.” He was stunned by her demeanor and her laughter. She had diminished
his power by gaining a greater understanding of herself.
Causon, Jo. "Pressure is no excuse." Nursing Standard 21.29 (2007): 64. Academic Search
Complete.EBSCO.Web. 8 Nov. 2010.
Haley, John. The Truth About Abuse. New York: Facts on File, 2005. 212. Print.
Heames, Joyce, and Mike Harvey. “Workplace Bullying: A Cross-level Assessment.”
"Journal of Management Studies research: Bullies have their way in U.S. workplaces." New
Orleans CityBusiness. 13 Jun 2007: ProQuest.Web. 8 Nov. 2010.
Lynch, Jason, et al. “Tag Team Terror.” People17 July 2006:Academic Search Complete. Web.
8 Nov. 2010
Mann, Sandi. “Internet News.”Leadership & Organization Development Journal.
2000:ProQuest.Web. 8 Nov. 2010.
Shapiro, Ronald M. Bullies, Tyrants, and Impossible People: How to Beat Them Without
Joining Them. New York: Crown Business, 2005: 276. Print.
“The Workplace Bullies.” Businessline. 20 Jan. 2003: ProQuest.Web. 8 Nov. 2010.