Monday, March 29, 2010

Why do bullies bully?

Bullying is an issue in the church as in the business world. It may be the minister (and his family) who are being bullied, or the minister himself who's doing the bullying. In an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled Create a Bully-Free Workplace, Nathanael Fast writes:

Among targets of bullying, 40% never told their employers and, of those who did, 62% reported that they were ignored. This suggests there's a significant opportunity to increase profits and beat the competition by eliminating the prevalence of workplace bullying in your organization. But how?

The first step is to identify the root of the problem. A set of recent studies conducted with Serena Chen, a psychologist at UC Berkeley, may provide some insight. We found that power is partly to blame. However, in contrast to the old adage that "power corrupts," giving people power did not turn them into bullies. Rather, it was the simultaneous pairing of power with feelings of inadequacy that led people to lash out. In our studies, the power holders who felt personally incompetent became aggressive, not because they were power hungry or had domineering personalities but because they were trying to overcome ego threat. Put simply, bullying is a cheap way to nurse a wounded ego. [my italics]

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