name of art: "Stop Workplace Bullying"
image is © 2016 by Lise Winne
watercolor and graphics
(for questions regarding use of images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)
poster dedicated to Joyce Decker
poster dedicated to Joyce Decker
Competition baiting" is one person (usually a bully) baiting someone else (usually a target/victim) to compete with him. Instances of competition baiting include:
* "I always do more than you; you hardly do anything."
* "They like me better than they like you"
* "They agree with me more than they agree with you"
* "They think I work harder than you work"
* "I have sweated on this project while you have done nothing, nothing at all, to make this a better project"
* taking your "project" or "assignment" over as a way to compete with you
* "I'd like you to write down all you have done, and I'll do the same and we'll see who has done more!"
* attempting to take control of a project so that you won't
* attempting to look superior to others by aggrandizing what they do and discounting what their target does
* pointing a finger at the "competition" in order to make the target "seem at fault"
* always lowering their prices compared to their target's prices to get an economic advantage over their targets
* making or selling the same products without creative input to differentiate
* taking ideas and claiming them as their own
Competition baiting is often bullying and abuse when it happens between siblings or between co-workers, particularly if there is verbal abuse and berating going on in tandem with it. See my post on verbal abuse to get a better understanding or check the links at the end of this post to get a better understanding of what verbal abuse is in a workplace setting (basically anything that is raging and berating).
Most competition baiting is also full of erroneous blaming where discounting or devaluing a target's contributions come from made up allegations, sometimes with a tiny bit of truth to them.
People who abuse and bully usually have personality disorders. Most abuse and bullying is perpetrated by people with cluster B personality disorders: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sometimes active alcoholics have traits like people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I discuss in this post who are the typical perpetrators of abuse and how they act, and who victims tend to be and how they act.
Do not buy into the "You brought this upon yourself" phrasing that bullies are notorious for. You did not "provoke" their rage.
If you have interpersonal issues with a co-worker, please understand that it is not normal for that co-worker to rage at you, swear, insult, devalue you, humiliate you, treat you like a child, or tell you what to do. If they insist on keeping a matter private between you and they have proven that they are rage-a-holics, do not keep it private unless you feel you are in imminent danger (my advice ... if you are in imminent danger call the police). They want you to keep everything between you private because raging is so much easier for them when they can do it in secrecy, with no one watching, without it effecting their reputation. They do NOT respect the sanctity of privacy (bullies will slander you behind your back).
Victims of workplace bullying and sibling abuse tend to have the following characteristics:
* They are more empathetic than the average person (they overwhelmingly are in the "helping professions": nurses, school teachers, yoga instructors, therapists)
* They tend to be whistle blowers and many are involved in causes (civil rights, women's rights, victims of domestic violence rights, getting bullying laws changed, safety issues in the workplace, trying to get workplace laws changed, they tend to be into equality and democracy, they tend to be into calling out inequities in the workplace, and so on)
* Very loyal to their friends; going to bat for them in unjust situations
* They tend to be highly creative individuals with big ideas (many victims have careers in the arts)
* They tend to be polite
* They tend to be highly intelligent
* They tend to be high achievers, many of them out-doing their peers in a work environment in terms of projects, creative ideas and work ethic
* Sometimes scapegoated by other workers, or scapegoated within a family
* Most survivors have a combination of all of these traits
My own personal note here about victims:
I have been a part of survivor groups for years. I have noticed a trend. The women tend to be exceptionally beautiful (probably rated much higher in the "standard" beauty department). They also tend have an innocence about them in their appearance. They tend to look much younger than their years. They tend to be more creative than most people in the way of clothing.
Of course, being beautiful infuriates workplace bullies who tend to be incredibly jealous people, on top of being manipulative.
In fact, all of these qualities of survivors tend to enrage bullies, and they also see survivors as easy marks for bullying (because survivors tend to act polite, with an etiquette of integrity). The reason why bullies are enraged about these qualities is because most bullies are overwhelmed with feelings of jealousy and envy. Borderlines experience jealousy intensely, and express it as outward rage, verbally tearing down their co-worker to anyone who will listen, and going into "berating rages" with people they are "competing against." They often practice slander too, but are not as careful about hiding their tracks as narcissists and the Antisocial Personality Disordered (sociopaths).
Narcissists and sociopaths usually experience jealousy as a simmering unbearable feeling bubbling in their systems, and they feel it almost all of the time. Narcissists are loyalty freaks, and will terrorize anyone who tries to mess with their self image as ideal: perfection personified. The jealousy they feel is so intense that they often make attempts to relieve it through gaslighting and subterfuge. Sociopaths will go the extra mile and steal. They want so badly what their targets have, that they feel entitled to take from them. They then slander their victims to the co-workers around them. The point of their assault is to toy with their victims' reputation in ever more ways, seeing what works and doesn't work, keeping up a campaign of making their victims lives miserable with "secret" reprimanding sessions, competition baiting, gaslighting, slander, insults, swearing and intimidation. The point of the bullies' intentions is to instill doubt in their peers about the target. They work on eroding the integrity, work ethic, sanity and abilities of their victims.
Bullies tend to feel very relieved when they verbally or emotionally attack and eviscerate their targets. You will notice that they look happy, confident, energized and gleeful after they attack their victims. They have a bounce in their step, and they become even more of a social butterfly than they were before, trying to get all eyes on them, and their achievements. Again, this is not normal behavior and points to a Cluster B personality disorder.
All workplace bullies and sibling bullies try to take credit away from their targets and make it seem that they "did everything" while their targets "did nothing". In fact the "I did everything and you did nothing" is very, very typical of workplace bullies and sibling bullies, because these personality disorders are known to possess black and white thinking.
They hope that "negative perceptions" of their victims will allow them to climb the social ladder, or be the family favorite, leaving the victims of their bullying in the dust, isolated, alone and without social support. Their whole work ethic in both the home (sibling abuse), and in the work place (workplace bullying) is to gain the favor of others, particularly authorities, and to isolate their victims, so that their victims (and competition) will be pushed out into the cold and regarded as trouble makers.
The most clever bullies can, and do, manage to isolate their targets pretty well. I will discuss strategies for disabling the isolation tactic from bullies in another post, but primarily it has to do with "exposure" of the bullying (and I don't mean just complaining to authorities). Bullies try to get away with lying, gaslighting and divide and conquer strategies (i.e. through triangulation) and acting commiserating with others, and setting up a kind of confidante rapport where they whisper about their competition (target of bullying) in disparaging ways, and they do it more frequently and with more intensity unless they are stopped in their tracks.
All of this can be disabled. If you can get toxic people out of your life, that is by far the best strategy. Even if you have crippled their ability to bully, they can still make you feel tense and sick.
Bullies want what their targets have. If their target has a certain job, privilege or skill, they want it too, and will try to jockey in position to get it. If their targets have more success, they don't try to get the same success through honest means; they try to do it through sly means and people maneuvering.
They work on other peoples' perceptions continually through ever more slander and ever more rumors and lies. Meanwhile, they are "super sticky sweet" to their other peers, often doing favors for them, trying to impress, and painting themselves as victims. In fact, they tell others that they are victims of their targets. It can be an insidious process (and cause PTSD in their victims) and they even succeed at sabotaging their targets if their targets don't take precautions, counter-manipulate and expose (counter-manipulation does have its drawbacks, though, because you are acting the way they act -- but sometimes it is necessary to get them to back off, of looking at you as easy prey that will serve as a dump-site for their rage).
I have talked about the ways sibling bullies try to compete with their siblings to get an upper advantage in terms of rewards and favoritism from their parents and other family authorities in other posts here and here and here.
One of the ways they do this (which contributes to them ending up with a Cluster B personality disorder) is to:
* try to get their siblings in trouble, to paint their sibling as the aggressor (when they are the aggressor)
* they may kick their sibling and then tell Mom or Dad that they were kicked and watch with glee as their sibling gets punished
* they may compete on chores and tell Mom or Dad that they did all of the chores while their sibling did none of the chores
* they may threaten and terrorize their sibling, but smile like an angel while around Mom or Dad.
* they may say subtle disparaging things about their sibling: "You know how my sister is" (with rolling eyes
* when they want to get their sibling in trouble they may carve their sibling's name in a piece of furniture and say "Why would I ever write her name in the furniture? If I was to do that, I'd write my own name, wouldn't I?"
Without putting a stop to sibling bullying and sibling competition, these "knife in the back" people will continue to bully as adults and end up like the nightmare co-workers I will talk about next.
Nightmare bullies exist in the workplace and do the same kinds of nasty maneuvers that a sibling bully child will do to another sibling. In their minds, they must have the upper hand, they must have control of the perceptions of others in the workplace, they must have what their competition has, and they must compete, even if they feel they have to do it through unfair unethical means.
When it comes to bullies in the work place, always remember the great quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
Bullies in the work place tend to feel inadequate. So they think that in order to relieve that feeling, they must compete with and attack their competition. Their focus is on manipulating people rather than on making a great contribution in their field of expertise.
I have talked about how narcissists do not care about what their targets feel, think or about their perspectives. Borderlines are much the same way, particularly when their agenda is to compete.
Borderlines rage by shouting, swearing and trying to intimidate. They are known for their volume. They maneuver to put you on the defensive, explaining yourself and defending yourself and trying to calm them down and appease them. They count on it. They feel acknowledged, and even loved, by people trying to please them so that they don't go off their rocker again.
It is very much like trying to calm down an unruly child. However, this also has the effect of condoning their behavior. They do not get better, and often get worse. Sometimes they become extremely narcissistic where they expect everyone in their lives to give in to what they want just to keep them from raging.
The difference between narcissistic rage and borderline rage is that narcissistic rage is often schemed and quiet and designed to make the most devastating impact, whereas borderlines "let it all out", with a lot of volume, without a thought as to what they are doing, how it effects others, how it effects their reputations or what the long term consequences are. They are so unconcerned about their reputations when they are in a rage, that they spend days and sometimes weeks afterwards with regrets, feeling paranoid, alone and abandoned. They are very impulsive, and if their bullying gets exposed, they are known to make drastic changes to their lives to avoid accountability.
Narcissists, on the other hand, are as careful about their reputations as they can be, but they rarely have regrets, and they avoid accountability by dodging, diverting, excusing, lying, covering up and playing the victim (narcissists really believe that their targets deserve abuse ... their common phrase is "You bought this upon yourself", whereas borderlines know they have messed up and can feel shame and guilt).
Narcissists and borderlines feel paranoia pretty intensely, and both try as hard as they can to do damage control after their abuses have been exposed. They both try to act overly sweet to others so that they can appeal to as many people as possible, so that those people will doubt their targets.
One reason why narcissists most often use the silent treatment in place of shouting, swearing, and openly challenging their targets, is for the sake of reputation (make no mistake about it, though, the silent treatment is still a nasty form of abuse: see my post on the silent treatment). They can write off their silent treatment to their audience as: "We just don't get along", "We just don't see eye to eye", "We're in two different worlds", "We've never gotten along all that well", "She has her life and I have my life and if we see each other, great, and if we don't see each other, we have our own interests and our own lives". In other words, they hide their passive aggressive abuses under the guise of "we're just having a normal time apart" -- a hoax.
The point I am trying to make is that both borderlines and narcissists often use rage and personal attacks to solve interpersonal conflicts, problems and issues. It is just that the manner of their attacks are different.
Borderlines see things in black and white terms. They are noted for more black and white thinking than even the most disordered narcissists and sociopaths. They also use always and never phrasing much more too (see my post on always and never phrasing in the verbal abuse post).
My personal experiences:
I have two to talk about.
They both took place in a co-operative gallery. The identities have been changed to protect the guilty largely because I don't want to damage the reputation of the gallery and its other artists.
The first is about two old lady artists and my relationship to them.
The second concerns an artist I recorded in the middle of a bullying session. I am sharing the transcript of that recording for my readers so that they see what it sounds like and how bullies maneuver to take hits on your self esteem.
This first one I will tell briefly. It is a very long story over a twenty year period, and I think that it deserves its own post (which I am working on). It is this story, and a few others, that made me want to research bullying and abuse.
The Gertrude and Janice story:
This story concerns two old ladies who I will refer to as Gertrude and Janice. Both were potters. I was also a potter in those days. The relationship was complicated in that it included working in a co-operative studio environment every day as well as in a co-operative gallery. in other words, we probably saw each other too much.
Gertrude was the bully, and the uninspired one, and often copied Janice's style and types of glazes. She also tried to undercut Janice in price for a comparable piece of pottery, and take the best display spaces for herself while moving Janice's pieces around to lesser locations that would not be so easily seen by customers. Janice would sometimes correct Gertrude's nasty display changes, but because Janice did it out in the open (as compared with Gertrude's doing it covertly), Janice was often blamed and seen as the aggressor. Eventually she was severely scapegoated by most of the membership. As in alcoholic families and families headed by a narcissist, the victim of abuse in a workplace can also be blamed and scapegoated and seen as the villain because no one takes the time to research what is really going on.
This is what happened to Janice and it is a heartbreaking story that took place over two decades. I am still trying to find justice to this story. I think the best way to get it, is to write about it so that it cannot happen to someone else so easily.
Like many survivors, Janice was outspoken. So Janice was often blamed for things just because she was outspoken about being treated so badly.
Gertrude spent an inordinate amount of time pointing the finger at Janice: "Look how hysterical she is! She is always putting me down! Real victims aren't so angry as Janice is!" She was one of the most sly sadistic underhanded bullies I have ever met, and she made every effort to ruin Janice's reputation and career, and to a slightly lesser extent, my career and reputation too. Gertrude was a master at acting, manipulation and "competition baiting", probably the most masterful I have seen. She would perpetrate ACT B, for instance, and then tell the social circle of the membership that Janice perpetrated ACT B instead. Janice was always, always on the defensive, while Gertrude would play this sticky sweet little grandmother role, acting nauseatingly unassuming, doing favors for others just to win their vote of confidence in her "war" against Janice, and coo-ing over members' "life issues". She was constantly maneuvering, using subterfuge, "isolation tactics", sabotage, stealing (which is against the law, but she was ballsy enough to do it, especially to Janice), making both of us "appear crazy" to the membership, playing the innocent and constant victim by calling up the display committee chair saying we were "bullying" her, giving her targets "the silent treatment on steroids", discounting our contributions, taking credit for our work and contributions, making herself appear to have a brilliant college education and to be a reputable teacher (when Janice and I actually had the degrees, and the real teaching experience), feigning concern over display of other members' works, disparaging Janice and me in a very quiet whispering victim voice, constantly lying, constantly acting, constantly stabbing us in the back, constant devaluing us at every turn.
In the studio the situation got so bad that Janice left and set up a studio in her house, and used a kiln in her backyard, while I worked around the ever-unpleasant Gertrude by wearing ear pods and a cassette recorder all day. When she'd give me her evil gloating smile, I tried a lot of creative ways of responding to it, including not responding, until I came upon something that stopped it once and for all.
It was dizzying how well she did her bullying. Janice and I wondered how Gertrude could get away with making us look so bad. I remember many times standing outside the gallery with Janice shaking our heads in dismay and being so utterly amazed at how convincing Gertrude could be. Her lies slid into other people's ears like candy. It seemed to us that everyone should be able to see the sabotage just because of how the gallery looked and was displayed most of the time. Most of the membership, in fact, called it the "pottery wars" because they found it so inconveniently uncomfortable to be reminded that we were unhappy -- even if for a good reason. It showed the two of us how little people care, and how little people research to find the real truth, and how little they are invested in justice and truth. Instead, they wanted to believe in some rhetoric.
We reasoned that it was like how religious cult leaders can persuade. In the Hale Bopp Comet cult, called Heaven's Gate, members were told that if they poisoned themselves, they would be able to take a ride on the comet. Janice and I thought that maybe it was a little like that, where the membership fell in love with words, a perspective and a person, refusing to see what was in plain sight, in front of their noses. They were enjoying the sweet-little-cooing-grandma-from-Hell giving them ego strokes instead.
Gertrude's bullying campaign was so relentless that she took her slandering outside the co-op studio and co-op gallery too. Gertrude took it into every aspect of our local artistic life: into submissions, group shows, openings, parties of invited artists, indeed everywhere in the local art scene. This should never happen, ever, so ever since, I have been active in the cause of stopping workplace bullying through laws and survivor training.
Unfortunately, Janice and I did not have the training then, and complaining made everything worse, though I will tell in the future post why I eventually started speaking up. Seeing so much injustice, group slander and group scapegoating at an early age (I was my twenties when it started), was difficult to witness, and I don't think the human psyche is meant to take relentless injustice anyway; I think our systems won't allow it, even if it takes a long time to make the situation "right" in some way. Since I grew up in a family with members who were invested in "just causes" like the civil rights movement, women's liberation, politics, and education, and assumed that "good people" were also invested in those things, I was ill prepared to know what to do for a long time.
Make no mistake, these people were "good people", but they were the kind of people who "don't want to get involved", who fancy themselves as Switzerland, the kind of people Martin Luther King talked about. His words:
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. -- Martin Luther King
In bullying situations, neutrality and turning away actually escalates bullying. It does not rectify it.
Both Janice and I felt really, really alone in our struggle, even though we had each other.
I want to make one point however, before I go on to the next story. Many years ago, I tried being nice and bending over backwards for Gertrude. I agreed to fire all of Gertrude's pottery, both bisque firings and glaze firings because she feigned helplessness in that department. I wanted to see if she would let up on her bullying. No, she got so much worse. I tell why bullies do not get better, and why they actually escalate bullying, when you do them favors in the If you are good and show altruism and magnanimity, will that keep you from being abused? post.
I will tell how I finally overcame the bullying, and believe me, after twenty years of being on the losing end, I used a stealthy arsenal of unpredictable "surprises" to disable Gertrude's bullying and sabotaging activities for the remaining five years that she was in my life. As I said, I will share what those were at another time because it was a long process of trial and error, and I want to focus on the taped conversation with another bully from the same gallery instead to show what it actually looks like.
The next story is about a lesser bully than Gertrude, but still a bully none the less.
The Morgan and Lise story:
For this next segment, I wanted to show what "competition baiting" actually sounds like. It is a taped conversation of someone who became verbally abusive during a phone call: insults, baiting, swearing, slander, interrupting, reprimanding, devaluing, raging, attempts to isolate, gaslighting, character assassination, trying to control the conversation, and other kinds of inappropriate bullying in a business context.
I call this next bully Morgan (not her real name).
I suspect that Morgan has Borderline Personality Disorder, whereas Gertrude probably had Malignant Narcissism (Malignant Narcissism is considerably more evil, but also a good deal more "charming").
Morgan and I are the only card designers in the gallery. We have, roughly, the same amount of space, the same amount of inventory and we probably have similar sales (she sells more in the Spring, and I sell more during the fall and holidays).
Some differences between us include (and probably have something to do with the conflicts between us, and her competition with me, which I will explain later):
* I am educated in art; she is not
* I am more fine art oriented; she is more crafts oriented
* her art rarely evolves, mine evolves constantly -- probably too much so
I didn't know she had a penchant for bullying until very recently. We had an altercation many years ago when Gertrude was still part of the gallery, where she verbally attacked me, but as the years went by, the relationship between us was uneventful. I thought we were on good terms, and I didn't know that she was jealous of me (which probably has more to do with the differences I stated above than our similarities). I have noticed over the years that she is also insecure about labeling herself as an artist, and that may have something to do with her "competition" with me. Perhaps she doesn't feel on par with me in some way.
Anyway, I considered her to be in the "friendly camp." I don't do things for bullies any more, so seeing as how I hadn't been bullied until this recent incident, I did what friendly co-workers and co-artists do: I did favors for her, filled in work days for her when she had surgery, I made sure she had adequate display space in the center of the gallery (she is a high volume seller compared to many of the artists there), and I came up with ideas of trying to make both of our businesses grow.
Three weeks before this bullying incident, I had recently driven a piece of hers to a gallery show (which I helped to set up, making sure her piece was displayed properly: in the center).
I admit that the relationship I had with her was hard to figure out. It was distant and rather uneventful. She could be friendly, but she could also appear cold and uncaring. We did not talk about personal subjects. She also did not reciprocate with days I needed filled, or anything else other than ringing up sales of my work (I also rang up sales of her work -- it is part of being in a co-operative gallery).
She ran a social media site for our gallery, and she became involved with our brand new website.
I had suggested to the gallery last January that we have a website. We had a mail-chimp account, a twitter account and a facebook account. I had discussions with a committee from our gallery about how it should be set up, what it should contain, and I made some mock-ups for the website design. My interest was primarily in promoting its artists, and trying to drum up more traffic. As time went on, Morgan seemed to want to take over the site and I noticed I was being excluded more and more from it. I did not know why, but I also had no particular desire to control the outcome and would just tell others who were working on the site: "Do what is best for the site. I'm just here to help if you need it." I wanted to be part of the blogging for the site, and setting up new member pages and bios.
Morgan told me a month ago that the website had too many differing opinions on its design from 3 members, and did not want my help on it any more because it would just be one more opinion to deal with. So, I backed off and made some birthday card designs instead.
I rewrote my bio for the website at her suggestion and she wrote back a curt, rather cold reply:
Morgan: Hi Lise. I got the bio but Molly said you have not paid yet. Only members who have paid will be included.
Lise: So I assume it is too late now? Okay. Unfortunately I was too busy with (an art show at the gallery), and forgot, and thought it was under discussion anyway because we had so much money in the account ...
Morgan: If you get the money in then you will be included but just hurry. We are probably going live this week ... I am working very hard also and have pur (sic) in long hours on this web site and I don't want to take the time to take members off and then put them back in later when they pay. Just pay now or have Molly deduct it from your next check. Let me know what you are doing so I adjust the bios accordingly. Morgan
Lise: Okay, I just e-mailed Molly about taking the fee out of the May sales. You can include me now.
Lise: Let me know if you've received my e-mail about Molly deducting it from the paycheck.
(note: sometimes I am unsure if an e-mail gets through because of the type of e-mail account I have, which is why I sometimes send more than one e-mail)
Lise: I told Molly to take it out of May sales. I am out of town until Wed. and a check would take until Fri or Sat. Let me know. I'd like feel I didn't go through all this writing (of the bio) for naught on a rare vacation. Lise
Tuesday May 31:
Lise: Molly, you told me to rush, and I did, and have not heard back from you. What are your plans when it comes to my inclusion on the website? Lise
Morgan: If you get the money in then you will be included.
This is the e-mail that let me know that Morgan was most likely playing a game of "arbitrary answers". I felt that she was baiting me, expecting me to get "pissed off" and to approach her about it. In other words I felt that she was trying to bait a negative response from me, so that she could jump all over me (which she did as I will show).
One reason I suspected I was being "baited" is because I know enough about the subject of abuse to know that her response was not a normal response to someone who wants a "clear definitive answer" to the issue and is feeling worried about e-mails getting through (bullies, the Cluster Bs, show lack of empathy for how people feel).
My hunch that she was toying with me made me prepare a counter-offensive, which was recording her response without her knowledge.
Before I took Morgan's "bait" however, I decided to write the entire membership by sharing these same e-mails to see if anyone else was going through what I was going through at not getting answers.
If Morgan had written anyone else during that same 4 day time period, it might also show others that I was being "toyed with".
Morgan responded back (respond-all, that is), asking me to call her. She also remarked that I was "distorting", even though I wrote the e-mails verbatim.
Following is the conversation I had with her (again, it is from actually taping her).
What may not be obvious, because there is no sound in type-written words, is that Morgan was shouting the whole time of our "conversation", almost always interrupting. Note, it is not normal to solve interpersonal or business issues and conflicts with ranting and attacks (that is definitely a sign of a bully). Most people will try to figure out what went wrong, to ask questions, and are interested in resolution.
My comments about the altercation is in pink type.
Lise: calmly So why didn't you get back to me? What's going on?
Morgan: Because I have a life! One thing I don't need is 50 friggin' e-mails sent over and over again! Note the exaggeration: borderlines typically exaggerate when in a rage. Like your little issue should be the most important thing in my life! It's always about you, isn't it!? I have a life, do you understand me!? Do you UN-DER-STAND!? Notice the repeat here: abusers often talk to targets as though they are small children who have a hearing problem and need to be reprimanded. Obviously you don't! You could have called me!
Lise: You know, we both have a life. I was up in Vermont, and I didn't have your num---
Morgan: mocking with disdain: Oh, you're in Vermont! Woohoo. Back to shouting: You know something!? This is a waste of MY time! You and your little concerns and your little world of crap! You're a WASTE OF MY TIME! Do you hear me!? I JUST DON'T FRIGGIN' CARE! Do you hear me? I DON'T FRIG-GIN' CARE ABOUT YOUR LIT-TLE WORLD!
Lise: facetiously: Nice. You know how to be polite. sighing with exasperation
Morgan: You don't friggin' do anything! You're too busy! with disgust and disdain: You're too this, you're too that! You make it sound like you're everywhere! goading, taunting, mocking: What IS IT that you DO all of the time anyway? Just who are you, exactly? What is so goddamn important in your life anyway! Huh? Answer me that! competition baiting: You know I could outpace you at just about everything! I'd like you to write down everything you have done for the gallery and we'll compare notes one on one and just see who comes out ahead! I doubt you have done much of anything! In fact, you've done nothing!! It's about your self centered world, while I actually do things for the gallery! But I don't FRIGGIN' CARE because YOU are a waste of my time!? Do you hear me? I DON"T FRIGGIN' CARE!!!! Abuse has a way of sounding pretty trashy, not intelligent or inspiring, with many repeats. But I can tell she is feeling empowered by all of the shouting. Abusers also feel entitled to shout and berate you, because they feel it is all your fault that they are this way, and they feel they are more important and entitled to rage, so their rage takes precedence over just about every other kind of communication: like it must be listened to.
Lise: That's interesting. So you don't care about other people's concerns. Okay, then.
Morgan: I care about other people's concerns! But you blow this way out of proportion! I'm certainly not going to take your concerns more seriously than anyone else's! Like your concerns should take precedence over other people's concerns! with disdain and taunting: Your little puny little life of LISE WINNE, the artist of all artists, is much more important than what others do! Or what I do! I worked hours and hours and hours on this website, asking the designers to move one period here and one colon there. And all you can think of is whether you are in it, or not, and all you can think to do (with disgust) is write about the members! Whoop-ee! Like that is all that you can come up with to contribute!
Lise: I can contribute more, but you seemed to want to take over the -----
Morgan: interrupting and sounding defensive: I put in over 20 hours of my time on it, and then when I need a break from it, I get 50,000 e-mails! I'm supposed to drop EVERYTHING for you! I had my (aunt) here! I have a life! Do you hear me!? I HAVE-A-LIFE!!
Lise: All I was asking for is just the word "confirmation" or something like that. You strung me out for 4 days! And then when you finally responded, you didn't acknowledge that I paid. It's not a good way to treat other p ----- .
Morgan: interrupting: When I send e-mails, they are PRIVATE e-mails! I don't want them shared all over the goddamn place! But, no, you can't respect that! You think this is SOOOOO important that it has to be shared with the world! Your little concern has to be broadcast all over the place!! That's what really got me! You have to share MY private e-mails with the entire membership! You are not to do that to me again! Do you hear me?! All of these people DO NOT have to get involved in your little --
Lise: interrupting: That's right. When I can't figure out why my e-mails aren't confirmed, I try to get to the bottom of it. The best way is through the membership, to see if they are going through the same issues that I am going through. And I also felt like I was being toyed with, so I go public when I'm being toyed with and treated like --- note: when I say I was being toyed with it refers to her competition baiting, the feeling that by keeping her responses arbitrary and as confusing as possible, she was hoping to have a chance at taking abusive pot-shots at me: in other words, I smelled a rat in her intentions towards me. My intuition was that she would provoke a response from me through the arbitrary response to make me nervous about being on the website, or taunting through keeping me off the website. If she got a response from me either way, it would be her chance to verbally undress me and abuse me, which is what most abusers salivate over.
Morgan: interrupting: Why go public? What's the point?
Lise: This conversation and your rants are the reasons why. When things are hidden, and I'm sensing --
Morgan: interrupting: You know what this is? It's one BIG TEMPER TANTRUM! Yup, one big temper tantrum! Because you can't wait! Everything has to be done right now! Right away! Right this minute! You can't be satisfied with waiting, because that's how selfish, self centered people act! If you don't get your way, then you cry to the membership! Wah, wah!
Lise: It was four days. You started it with needing something from me, right away, demanding immediate action, which incidentally wasn't necessary after all, was it? But then when it comes to you, 4 days is right away --
Morgan: interrupts me on the words "right away" Note that interruptions happen because abusers are typically more focused on their next come-back, than their own contributions to what went wrong in the relationship, and their own hypocrisies. Abusers are typically NOT self-reflecting kinds of people and they are generally hypocrites in most of their accusations. They use rage to get what they want, and "I don't care" statements when they are caught at hypocrisies, as a way to divert, because it's the raging and denigrating that gives them that high they desire. For more on that see this post. It's like you haven't grown up! This is how little children act! They can't play nice when they don't get what they want right away! When they don't get what they want, then they go tell the authorities, they scream and cry until they get their needs met. If you don't fulfill a child's needs, they scream and cry more! This is what this is! I figured it out! Yup, it's one big childish temper tantrum! A three year old reaction to ---
Lise: interrupting: These are personal attacks and they are inappropriate to a business discussion. Stop with the personal attacks and get back to the real issues. The only reason I am still on the phone with you is that we have to work togeth --
Morgan: interrupting again: You know what your problem is? You don't see any other perspective than your own! One thing about abusers is that they use projection -- this abuser really did not know me beyond my art creations and a few superficial conversations, and so has no other choice than to project (it should be obvious that she does not listen: she uses an attack/defend strategy and is always thinking about her next attack when the other person is talking). She was also not interested in me beyond her own rants and competitive feelings about me. Most abusers in the workplace only think in terms of: I'm in competition with her. She's too talented, I need to gain some leverage and superiority over her and the only way I know how to do that is to rip her character to shreds, rage at her, diminish her, take over her projects (website), and intimidate her. They compete in dirty ways, instead of inspirational ways. More calm, with a concerned tone: You should hear what people are saying about you! You're not going to believe it. Abusers often use slander, smear campaigns, and then they try to come back at the target with other people's opinions to try to rip apart their targets character some more and intimidate them further through isolating them via community opinion (which is another form of abuse, an emotional abuse). Usually verbal abuse escalates to emotional abuse, or it goes in tandem with emotional abuse.
Lise: I don't care. This has nothing to do with those other people and ---
Morgan: My point is that I wasn't getting the feeling that I did anything wrong! In fact, if anything, they gave me the feeling that I handled this the right way. That's my point! If I was so wrong, I wouldn't be hearing this! I called each and every member up, to make sure they were part of the website, and the conversation, to make sure they were paid up, and they were all very, very thankful for all I had done for them and gave me the feeling that you were ---
Lise: deep, serious, authoritative tone: Like I said, this has nothing to do with the other members. I'm not going to talk about the other members.
Morgan: sounding shaky: But my point is ---
Lise: I'm serious. I don't care. Stop talking to me about th ---
Telling an abuser that you don't care about opinions is actually a good strategy for many reasons. Sociopaths and psychopaths don't care what other people think (and most people are aware of that), so a borderline abuser will get worried that you are a sociopath or psychopath and usually stop ranting with such intensity, which she did. They begin to wonder if you are more dangerous than they are. They begin to wonder whether competing with you is in their best interests after all. They get nervous, like maybe you are one of those kooks with hair-trigger rage, or someone with a family member like that. They really don't know you so they start questioning themselves: like should they really be messing with you after all, should they have gone into a rage when they might be retaliated against? Hmmmm, maybe this isn't such a good idea after all. They begin to be worried and paranoid. Paranoia is the burden that all Cluster Bs carry around with them.
When public opinion as a weapon will not work, they really don't have many other weapons to use. Their rage tends to dissipate.
The other reason why I didn't care about "opinions" so much is because the old guard acted like brainwashed zombies in the days of Gertrude and Janice.
When you are a survivor (which I am), you learn not to be swayed by opinion anyway. You know that there will be other insecure bullies that want to take pot-shots at you too and may join in a team of bullies. You know that the opinions of your past abusers who told you that you were worthless no matter how hard you worked to gain their approval, and that your work and contributions were worthless or insignificant regardless (for instance) were something you had to give up on being concerned about, so you tend to be of an independent mind when it comes to other people's opinions (while still being polite). You understand that abuse escalates no matter what you do or don't do, what you say or don't say, so their opinions of you become pretty insignificant and useless. It is one reason why survivors are some of the most creative, brave, independent, trail blazing people you will ever meet.
Morgan: sounding slightly more uneasy and less rage-ful: Well there really isn't anything to talk about then. You're just really screwed up. You know what? You're crazy. You're probably mentally ill or disordered or deranged or something. I should feel sorry for you. It must be hard to be in your shoes. It must be hard to live in your little cold world. You have some major problems. You don't care what other people think, that's interesting. You don't care what I think, either. You just live in a bubble of your own opinions and your own making. A bubble only you understand. And you don't care that it makes you alone, and doesn't make sense to anyone else. It's kind of like living in a fantasy world all of the time. That's why you think you're so important because it's a fantasy that you're this big important person that --
Lise: This is gaslighting! I'm not going to be listening to gaslighting statements --
You can read about what gaslighting is to understand what I am talking about.
Morgan: interrupts by hanging up the phone
Some notes about what happened next, with some of my own thoughts about whether I would want to change my reactions to her.
I did call her back to tell her that I recorded our "conversation". This changed the course of things, as I will reveal in a moment.
My main impetus for recording is that there is less likelihood for slander (because of the recording). Slander is usually a part of any bullying process and it can make for an intolerable work environment, and severe symptoms of PTSD for its victims if it goes on for a long period of time. Recording is a counter-manipulation, but it works on people who are out to hinder and hurt you. The best offense and defense against slander is recording someone in a bullying rage. As soon as you hear someone in a rage, record, record, record.
Anyway, she tried to muster up a stance about her being recorded, that she was proud of what she said, and how she acted, and would stand by it, and that people would still judge her to be "the better person".
I said, "Not with this recording. Uninterrupted rage? I think not."
Then she started sounding pitiful, like a little girl, and she was getting very paranoid:
"Don't ever touch my stuff!"
"Don't hurt me!"
"I don't want you to pick up any more of my pieces or display any more of my pieces! Just leave my work alone!"
"I could never work with you again!"
"I could never trust you again!"
"Don't threaten me!"
"I feel betrayed!"
"I just want to be left alone!"
"I can't believe that you don't trust me! I don't trust you!"
Then sounding almost tearful: "I'm feeling really stunned right now. It's like I've been hit with a bolt."
Abusers really do feel like victims when you disarm them. The fact that she felt stunned is a normal response to "possible exposure", especially since so many scapegoats and targets of abuse seem so polite and unassuming, when they seem so reasonable, like they will absorb abuse forever without defense, when they seem so patient in the face of so much rage hurled at them, when they seem so passive, when they seem to be on the defensive all of the time, when they seem like such a perfect target or scapegoat for abuse. Recording them in these tirades makes them feel pretty darn defeated. It's a stealthy move, kind of like a judo or karate move in that you let your opponent wear themselves out taking swings at you, and then you take the force of their blows and put them on the floor in one swift move.
In the following days, she did a lot of "trying to save face." Her e-mails out to the membership were peppy, cheerful, and all about how much work she was doing on the website, and for all of the members. She even came up with little fun games, inviting the membership to play. She was trying to put on this cheerful helpful little goody-two shoes role.
And yes, I was included in on the website, another victory.
She did make it clear that she was taking over the website, and that someone else besides me was going to be part of that effort, but a friend thought it was "perfect" (laughing all the while). This other person thought I should be happy that I'm not saddled with the job. "Just think: you get to make all kinds of birthday cards, and make even more money than she is making, because she's saddled with a website! She'll see all of your new designs popping up, and get ever more jealous and resentful, while she'll be doing everyone else's work." This friend also suggested I use it as a strategy: that I pretend to want to do something very badly, and in her competitiveness she'll make a grab for it and try to take it away from me. "You give her all the unwanted jobs this way!!" *giggles*
It is the same mentality of a person I wrote about in this post. Basically the story is of another "friend" (and I use the "friend" term loosely) used my interest in a man to see if she could seduce him away from me. If she was successful, she would find a way to dump the man, because she couldn't continue to compete with me if she held onto him. So, in order to get her going after a different man than the one I was actually interested in, I found a decoy man 3 hours away, and talked him up as much as I could to her, feigning falling in love with him, over many weeks to get her interested in going after him. And the bait worked: she went after the decoy man, and since decoy man lived so far away, she never saw much of my real love interest. In fact, the real man I was interested in was kept from her as much as I could possibly muster. I had time, finally, to build on a relationship without her intrusions and sabotage. By the time she caught on, it was too late, and I eventually married him. It is a type of gray rock method, in that you are counter-manipulating (most Cluster Bs are very predictable, and you know they are competitive jealous people who want what you want, and are so uncomfortable with the envy they feel that they will do just about anything to relieve themselves of that envy, so it is easy to trick them, and get them going on wild goose chases).
I have also learned to enjoy the feeling of having bullies afraid of me. I like it that this bully is in a box, that she can't mess with me very easily again. I like that this recording exists and that she may be more careful about bullying others too. The gallery, and area art scene, may be a very hard place for her to find targets, to get narcissistic supply.
Narcissistic supply (and bullying) from raging only works in the dark, in the most private of conversations, and she knows I won't protect the sanctity of private conversations between us. She will have to go elsewhere for someone else to dick around with, rage at, and play for a fool, because she knows I'm onto her.
Borderlines sometimes find their lives so ruined by their own regrettable rages that some of them seek help.
Borderlines are the only Cluster B that has a chance at recovery (usually). Very few narcissists and sociopaths care to change their behavior.
As I said in this post, most bullies "don't have a life", as the saying goes. They are usually unhappy in some aspect of their life. If you think about it, anyone who puts time into trying to bait someone so that they can have an outlet for bullying and rage cannot be happy. Anyone who has to "competition bait" someone else must feel inadequate. Most bullies are not careful about whom they bully, and this altercation with Morgan should be proof of that. They are generally not discretionary, and they even "mess with" people who have the potential of having authority, or clout, or knowledge of laws, or psychopaths, or who have spouses or family members with those kinds of traits. They take foolish chances at bullying (kind of the way philanderers take foolish chances at having affairs). Morgan did not know me outside of very limited contact ... not too smart!
Anyway, she may be a lot more careful about bullying now, knowing that recording is being done a lot on cell phones these days.
She may still be able to rage in her own home, and that may give her the perfect excuse not to change her ways. I have a hunch that Morgan is married to a quiet, unassuming, reserved man who walks on eggshells around her explosive rages. I also suspect that she gets away with a lot of rages. It means that she will probably not seek help as long as rages are working for her in that arena. The problem with being recorded is that she will probably feel hampered and in a double bind in telling the whole truth to her husband. Many Cluster Bs find they have to alter the story to appear as the real victims. But, she would also be paranoid too of the whole story leaking out. So many cluster Bs put lies and excuses on top of more lies and excuses. Oh, dear, the anxiety of it all!
Paranoia and not keeping lies straight is the big reason why borderlines, narcissists and sociopaths become depressed later in life. Their shame has a way of catching up to them, even though they have spent their lives trying to keep it away.
I could have done things differently, and it is never a good idea to sit through someone else's raging and belittling sessions. But since she had probably been taking pot shots at me behind the scenes for quite awhile (jealousy will do that), and slandering my reputation, I saw nothing wrong in holding down the record button.
It was validating. It may work for you too. Since you are the first one to listen to that recording, you can hear right away that the person raging is the selfish one (who won't let you talk), who is the crazy one (who has amnesia about your contributions in the work place), who is threatening (while you are polite), who sounds stupid (because they repeat inane phrases), whose rage and anger are unreasonable (because they rage at just about everything you say). Other people will see them that way too if they hear. Recording is empowering in terms of justice; that is why it is used so much.
I didn't get to this point with Gertrude until Gertrude did a lot of damage. I feel I have made quite a bit of progress. Since Gertrude was part of the co-operative gallery, some of her residual scapegoating of Janice and me were left behind for Morgan to pick up perhaps, and use as a continued mission.
I am thankful that this time I am only dealing with a borderline, instead of a rabid extremely manipulative malignant narcissist. This borderline may still try things here and there to upset me, but she is too hobbled to make an all-out assault now. I would bet that she doesn't rage at me again. If she does, I will put up a link here and let you know how it has played out.
Learning to deal with bullies is a skill like anything else, and I'll touch more on those skills later on.
How to Deal with a Verbally Abusive Coworker by Freddie Silver
Verbal abuse includes shouting and swearing as well as intimidating gestures and hostile body language. Insults, ridicule and criticism -- whether to your face or secretly to colleagues and supervisors ...What is Workplace Verbal Abuse and Is It Harmful to You?
One answer is to tape-record the person doing the verbal abuse at work as he berates you. Sometimes, showing a recorder to the bully and asking him if he minds if you tape the conversation can be enough to prevent the verbal abuse. Or, you can record the abuser without his knowledge which permits you to gather proof just in case you wish to report him.
Verbal Abuse from the Out of the Fog Website, a good resource for all types of abuse