Dear readers, I found myself chuckling over this recent Yahoo! news item, reporting on the discovery of a two-headed rattlesnake in Arkansas, and noting that such creatures are “very rare.” My immediate thought was, ummm, not in the workplace!!!
You see, when Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie began their pioneering investigations of workplace bullying many years ago, they set out a typology of on-the-job aggressors, and prominent among them was the “Two-Headed Snake.” Here’s how they describe the workplace variety in the current edition of The Bully at Work (2009):
Passive-aggressive, indirect, dishonest style of dealing with people and issues. Pretends to be nice while sabotaging you. “Friendliness” serves only to decrease resistance to giving information she may later use against you. Smile hides naked aggression. Assassinates reputation with higher-ups. Plays favorites. Satisfies need for control by managing the image of the Target in other people’s minds.
Sound familiar? I bet that many of you are nodding your heads in agreement.
The two-headed snake is often an expert at crazy making, gaslighting behaviors. Relational manipulation is what this type of abuser is all about. With such an individual, it can take forever to figure out what’s happening, and sometimes it’s too late to do anything about the toxic venom. As with the reptilian version, one should be very, very careful in dealing with this creature.