Field Guide to Office Bullies

Kathi Elster, co-author of Mean Girls at Work, and Patricia Barnes, author of Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace, offer a taxonomy of the worst people in any company.

By David Wescott

ILLUSTRATION BY LISA HANAWALT

The Ice Princess

“The meanest of the mean,” says Elster. She ignores you in meetings because she can. She’s “unable to see another person’s point of view.” She sees others as a threat and will do anything for superiority.

The Bathroom Gossip

The lad who wants to turn public opinion against you. But watch out — he’s been “freed from the confines of toilet stalls,” says Barnes. He’s on Facebook, too.

The Psychopath

The completely deranged bully who is the way he is because of his neurology. He’s “biologically predisposed” to make your life miserable, says Barnes.

The Alpha Mean Girl

The leader of brutal pack-attack bullying. While she seems vicious, “she is just trying to cover up her own inadequacies,” says Elster.

The Needy Co-Worker

An unusual bully in that her helplessness and oppressive niceness actually make you mean in response. She acts clueless, and as a result, says Elster, “you snap at her.”

The Don

The power-hungry man who somehow missed his true calling — mafia boss. “He is always right, he demands loyalty at all times,” Elster says.

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