Dear Sticky Stuff,

Help, we had a new employee join our group this week. She didn't start to work, she exploded into the department like Wonder Woman telling us all how great she is, how wonderful all of her previous jobs have been and just full of wonderful new ideas about what we all need to do. Ugh! We have a great department, all different ages, colors, and experiences but we enjoy our group and our jobs and work well together. Wonder Woman has been so irritating with all of her wonderfulness that some people are avoiding her.

Others are making some sarcastic, funny comments to try and defuse the situation and others are just rolling their eyes. Wonder Woman became quickly aware that she was not being well received by her co-workers, so what does she do? She goes to our direct supervisor and says she is being bullied and no wonder it's hard to find people to work in this area. She is an attractive person and has a good background why does she act like this and why play the bully card when she was the one who came in like we were all idiots.

So now the situation is that we have had the "bully lecture". Nobody got bullied and I think it was a cheap shot to play the bully card when she caused the reaction by coming in like God's answer to the advertising world.

Half the group is pissed and probably will never like her. Two or three people think she is just unstable. Overall she has added a downer to the whole department since now she is not being so overbearing but still has all the answers and if anyone takes issue with her ideas she says they just didn't understand what she meant.

It's really sticky in here and our department is walking on eggshells around Wonder Woman. Any suggestions?

Signed,

"Not a Bully and mad to be called one'

 

Amy Ala - Internal Recruiter Says:

Dear Not a Bully,

Work is hard enough, isn’t it? I mean if they didn’t pay us, no one would bother to show up. So here you are, enjoying your life for the most part, you’ve got a decent job with good people around you, and here comes Wonder Woman throwing a monkey wrench in the whole darn thing.

For what it’s worth (admittedly, probably not much) WW is probably more intimidated by you and the group than you might think. Showing up for work the first day is a lot like your first day in a new school, worse if it’s the middle of the semester. Even worse if it’s high school… but I digress. The point is it’s downright nerve wracking. Here you and your work pals are, steaming along, productive, no doubt well-liked by your boss, and WW is trying to figure out how to fit in. Clearly not very self-aware, she verbally vomits all over the team making a mess everywhere. The optimist in me says that WW probably just wants to be liked and acknowledged for what she thinks she has to offer. The cynic in me agrees that she’s most likely off her meds.

If not for the “bully talk” this whole thing would probably have burned itself out quickly. But no… now things are escalated. Now you’re been put “on notice”, so to speak, by someone that should have had your back. I HATE that. What to do?

1. Ignore Wonder Woman. I know, this will be difficult, but potentially the safest route to take. Smile and nod, whenever she drops some pearls of wisdom on you say thanks and keep doing your own thing. Above all, DON’T ENGAGE. If you are absolutely forced to work together, make sure you have witnesses.
2. Have a serious heart to heart with The Boss. Let him/her know in no uncertain terms that you appreciate he/she wants to support the newbie but that doesn’t mean they’re allowed to throw proven, solid performers under the bus. Highly recommend that Boss tells WW to dial it down a few notches.
3. Have a serious heart to heart with Wonder Woman. Personally I hate this idea the most and don’t see myself ever being capable of this. I tend to take route #1 because I still listen to my mother who said if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

In a perfect world WW will eventually (hopefully quickly) wear herself out. It seems the bigger issue for you, dear reader, is that you are not feeling the love from your Boss. Therein lies the difficulty….



Sandra McCartt - Third Party Recruiter Says:

NO, YOU ARE NOT A BULLY BUT CHECK THIS OUT, YOU HAVE BEEN BULLIED.  In the most passive aggressive way known to man. 


Oh boy, ain’t she a little treasure. I am not a shrink but I am a pretty good armchair psychologist so here’s my diagnosis. I think what you have in your nest is a little bird called a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. These folks are normally pretty smart, attractive people and can be very charming but..and this is the kicker…they will die without attention. It’s all about them. They hardly ever take time to introduce themselves and get to know their co workers before they start telling everyone how great they are.

The problem is the Wonder Woman exterior and outgoing “I know it all” attitude is a big cover up for a personality that is like an emotional vampire. If they can’t get attention by exploding into the group as a big star or the reception is negative they will get attention by going into a Sarah Bernhardt routine and playing the “Bully Card” or turning on the “Waterfall”. Believe it or not it comes from a very weak ego and lack of self esteem.

I know, at this point you feel like if they had anymore esteem for themselves the windows would blow out. They set people up to react and if the reaction is not what they want it to be ..well you’ve seen it. Wonder Woman will never take responsibility for her own actions and it will never occur to her that the reaction of her co-workers was caused by her entrance as the queen.

Unfortunately these personalities are not treatable nor can they be reasoned with. The only thing that works with them is adoration and they are not very adorable. But that doesn’t answer your question. Just perhaps offers some insight into why she would play the “Bully Card”.


Oh , and she will do it again or throw some other kind of fit that will make other people angry or be falsely accused of some sort of abuse of this little darling. Most of them are pretty smart and tricky so the best thing I can tell you is don’t get caught up in the narcissistic dance.

You have to work with her at this point so eggshells may be the best course of action. Be polite and professional and wait for the mills of God to grind as they always do with an NPD. If an NPD doesn’t get a lot of attention or people disagree with their ideas they normally don’t last long in any group.

I think your supervisor will come to the party pretty quickly and realize that things were good in there before Wonder Woman exploded on the scene. They can be pretty conniving so my advice is keep your distance and keep in mind that if you poke a rattlesnake it will strike or it will slither and wiggle. It’s a snake.

You are all in a bit of a pickle because when an NPD is ignored it always figures out a way to get attention. But my advice on this one is to steer clear as long as you can stand it. When she puts the full court press on you in some way just smile and ask for a meeting with you , Wonder Woman and your boss. Discuss just that instance and at least let your boss know that you are making an effort to get along in an impossible situation, before WW has a chance to play any of the black cards in the black deck of the narcissist.

I’m sorry, but I think your department is going to be not so pleasant until WW decides that you are all a bunch of Barbarians who can’t appreciate her and moves on. Just don’t let her suck you into a conflagration and make you the bad guy. They can do that and they will and you will be up all night worrying about it because sane people angry/frustrated trying to figure out personality disorders because it doesn’t make good sense. And it doesn’t , that’s why they call it a personality disorder.

I feel for you. I have seen a couple of these in action. I worked for a TV station for several years and most of the “on the air” types were textbook cases as many of the attention addicts end up in broadcasting, acting and politics. The other 95% end up in offices. yuck!

 

If it gets so bad that it makes you miserable, you can take her on head on and let her have it.  But ,be ready to go find another job when you do.  Your whole department can go to your boss or baring that there is always HR.  That's called punting the NPD to the people who hired it.

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I can't help you guys here.  I have never experienced anything like this.  But I would certainly hope that whoever is moderating this situation can eventually sniff out the culprits.  Otherwise s/he will have the inmates running the asylum.  

 

From the stories i am hearing right now Bill, i think the lunatics are running a lot of asylums and management seems to be sticking their heads in the sand.
I agree with Sandra and Amy. Smile and nod and don't give WW any attention. Hopefully the truth will come out soon enough, if not then have a quiet word with your boss or HR department. You have to spend a huge amount of your time at work, so a whole office being terrorised by one person is really not acceptable.

Try looking at it from her perspective...ever think this team is a little resistant to change? It's immature to react with sarcisim, rolling eyes or an inaccurate psychological diagnosis. She must have been hired for a reason (her skills, experiences, ideas) but needs coaching on how to properly adjust to this group.

You're right, Emily.  And I think if I were moderating this, I would tell Wonder Woman not to come on so strong and try to work things out within the group, instead of whining to me.  Then I would duck to avoid her magical bracelets.  

Emily S. said:

Try looking at it from her perspective...ever think this team is a little resistant to change? It's immature to react with sarcisim, rolling eyes or an inaccurate psychological diagnosis. She must have been hired for a reason (her skills, experiences, ideas) but needs coaching on how to properly adjust to this group.

@Smantha and John,  I agree, once the explosion has occurred nobody wants to strike a match next to that stick of dynamite again.  It's sort of like taking off your clothes in public and then throwing a fit because people react to your lack of judgement.

 

@Bill, It's always nice to be able to look at something through the other person's eyes but it's very difficult to see out when the only direction they can look is inward.

 

@Emily  The problem with being able to look at this situation at this stage of the game from WW's position is that the damage has already been done.  It has been my experience that even close knit groups in companies are quick to welcome a new person if that person comes in, introduces themselves and as John says, asks questions, tells her coworkers a little about herself and has enough sense to ask some of them to show her the ropes.  Most sane people will always be willing to help a newbie.  No group reacts well to a posturing, know it all.

 

The problem here is that her behavior caused the sarcasm, eye rolling and a psychological diagnosis that may or may not be totally on target.  But based on her very childlike reaction of running to the boss to tattle after she started the chain reaction i think the NPD call is pretty on target.  So the immaturity here appears to me to be on the part of
Wonder Woman.  What did she think the reaction would be when she went whining to the boss playing the "bully card".  Did she really think that mommy was going to come in and make everybody like her.  What if she had gone to one of her team mates and said, "Wow, i don't seem to have made a very good impression, what do i do?".  I would suggest that would have gone a long way toward easing the situation.  But she didn't which is indicative of a very entitled child like personality who demands to be accepted cause she's wonderful or else.

 

i have seen a lot of very talented people fail miserably because they were either young and dumb or just simply too impressed with themselves to take note of the people around them (do you like that better than calling them out as an NPD)  ?

 

Part of the problem i see here rests with the boss in my opinon.  If one of my people came to me whining about being bullied my first question would be to them about their behavior that caused it.  How did they act when they went in, what did they expect would happen based on how they acted and what did she want me to do?  I would then do some fact finding with the rest of the group to see if i had a problem child or if the group was being resistant to a new person. 

 Based on the fact that "I am not a bully" indicates that the group has gotten along fine until WW exploded on the scene i would assume that the whole department was not hired at the same time.  They have had new people join in the past and there has not been a problem before so it doesn't look to me like everybody is out of step but WW.

 

Were i in the position of the boss i would not have given the team a lecture until i had the full picture.  That would have been the time to coach WW not accuse the whole group of being bullies because they reacted to her immature, narcissistic behavior.

 

Now that WW has played the "bully card", the team has backed away from her like poison, what kind of coaching would you give her at this point to try and repair the damage?

 

What say you?

 

 

Emily, where are you, coaching ideas for our reader please?
I think Amy said it best when she said "WW is probably more intimidated by you and the group than you might think". In a nutshell I think opening up the lines of communication, putting it all out on the table and spending the majority of the time discussing how to make things work in the future (not dwelling on who is to blame) is going to be the best use of everyone's time. You can't punish someone for their personality (even if it is clinically extreme), but you can provide a little "reality testing" by holding a mirror up to their behaviors and explaining that she wasn't bullied but did come on too strong, causing the team to react that way. By providing examples of what did not work and giving opportunities for what could work in the future I would think (and hope) WW would be given a second chance, straighten up and fly right.

Emily,

Interesting suggestion.  Reality testing and mirroring behavior can be effective in a clinical setting, with trained staff ready to pick up the pieces if it goes badly.  It certainly might work but the question is should this be done by one of the team, two or three of the team, the whole team or do you think this would best be done by someone in HR or the supervisor if the team is not inclined to confront WW and take the risk that she will react badly.

I am not in a position to be part of an internal team so i will ask for Amy's input and anyone else here.  If you were in "Not a Bully's position would you be willing to confront someone who has already played the bully card with your boss?  If you have ever done this or seen it happen in your office, how did it go?

Perception is reality.  If Wonder Woman thinks she was bullied, then she was bullied.  That's her perception and therefore her reality.  Now, she might learn to modify her behavior for the better of the team dynamic but I doubt anything anyone says or does at this point will ever change her perspective.  I would ignore her as much as possible and only work with her in a group setting (and only if I absolutely have to).  My bigger issue here is that the boss seemed to have jumped to conclusions or took the "safe" way out by smacking the hands of the employees he knows well (so-called bullies) instead of risking rocking the boat with Wonder Woman.  I would be having my discussion with the boss - not Wonder Woman.

Damn skippy.

Amy Ala said:

Perception is reality.  If Wonder Woman thinks she was bullied, then she was bullied.  That's her perception and therefore her reality.  Now, she might learn to modify her behavior for the better of the team dynamic but I doubt anything anyone says or does at this point will ever change her perspective.  I would ignore her as much as possible and only work with her in a group setting (and only if I absolutely have to).  My bigger issue here is that the boss seemed to have jumped to conclusions or took the "safe" way out by smacking the hands of the employees he knows well (so-called bullies) instead of risking rocking the boat with Wonder Woman.  I would be having my discussion with the boss - not Wonder Woman.

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