Workplace Bullies: Screaming Mimi

Many workplace bullies are hybrids of four archetypes.  The third workplace bully archetype may also be familiar to you.  Meet the Screaming Mimi.

Screaming Mimi is the classic stereotypical workplace bully.  Statistically, they are rare but they do walk among us – some of them achieving very senior leadership roles.   Mimi enjoys publicly humiliating and degrading others through fear and intimidation.  They are known to be unpredictable, explosive and they can teeter on the edge of physical violence.  They are overbearing, insensitive, arrogant and lack empathy for others.  They thrive on creating chaos and instilling a sense of doom and gloom.

Like all workplace bullies, the Screaming Mimi is not a leader that lacks self-awareness, they have a very specific intent to control and intimidate.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would behave this way, particularly in public settings.  The root cause of their unpredictable outbursts can be linked to a deep insecurity about their own competence and a fear they will be labelled an imposter.  They turn their inner fear and insecurity outward by transferring it to others.

Signs to Watch for

  • Yelling, screaming, cursing & angry outbursts
  • Defensive behaviour; refusing to acknowledge mistakes
  • Intimidating body language
  • Closing in on a target’s personal space
  • Interrupting and talking over others
  • Threatening target’s job security; impulsive firing
  • Dismissing other’s thoughts and feelings

Trying to understand the Screaming Mimi is a waste of time.  Being under their thumb for a long period of time is a real threat to the emotional, physical and psychological well-being of their target.

Blowing the whistle on the Constant Critic requires careful planning.  Keep good notes on their behaviour including dates, witnesses, documents, condescending emails, transcribed voice messages etc.  Consider using a smartphone APP to secretly record their outbursts.  Building a strong case supported by real evidence will position you to defend your position if and when you decide to blow the whistle.   Look for opportunities for others to witness their rants and raves.  Be cautious and don’t tip them off that you are building a case; keep your facts at home.

In a future post, we’ll be providing some insight into confronting bully behaviour.