SMEAR CAMPAIGN TACTICS:
Discredit & isolate the victim
Play the victim and/or hero
Label the victim inferior
Hurt the victim for spite
The difficulty with saying no to toxic people is that they are already hazardous. After all, if they weren’t toxic, you wouldn’t have had to say no to them in the first place. Most abusers simply want what they want and will not be denied without unleashing a torrent of phony martyrdom and vicious slander all about you and how you are an abuser. Their story will be warped, slanted and twisted until there’s not one atom of truth left in it.
Lies will be sprinkled in to try making their audience fear, prejudge and rebuke you for the supposed evil you’ve perpetrated against this innocent lamb (or a vulnerable, well-respected person). You didn’t ask for your boundaries to be respected — you are a vicious animal who attacked them, and you’ve supposedly attacked others, so everyone needs to “be careful” of you if they want to be “safe”. Everyone should stand up on behalf of this good person by shutting you out and standing up against your “abuse”.
If the the abuser is a coworker, they will try to get you into trouble or fired; if they are related to you, they will attempt to have you kicked out of the family or to make you feel left out. You must be marginalized and cut off from the pack so you will be left feeling weak and alone. It is the payback the smear campaigner exacts for the fact that you got in their way. They want you sorry you were ever born, and they know how much it will hurt you to be shunned and turned against, and how powerless you will feel without the assistance of others.
The smear campaigner must see to it that anyone they are telling these lies to is “kept sweet”, and they will play the good one, the nice helpful one, the innocent one who is only trying to warn people of how secretly evil you supposedly are when nobody’s looking. They’re doing their coworkers, the family, or society a grand favor by bravely speaking out against your misdeeds and righting a wrong. They cleverly play the friendly everyday good person who is upstanding, supportive and likeable, just like the people they’re trying to reel in. They would never do anything wrong or unlikeable, not them.
The smear campaigner needs to make their audience think they are a perfectly innocent person who was shockingly blindsided by your supposed evil, unreasonability, overemotionality or mental instability. Smear campaigners’ goals are to create mistrust of you, fear of you, and condemnation of you. If they think their audience may not swallow the lie that they have done absolutely nothing to contribute to the matter, they may admit that they have done something very minor, but that your response to it is outrageously unreasonable (or completely incompetent).
Popular lies of the smear campaigner include statements and insinuations that you are mentally ill, incompetent, untrustworthy or unreasonable. The smear campaigner does this so that if your legitimate upset shows, the observer will attribute it to irrationality, ill intent or instability, and not to your normal upset at having been badly mistreated.
Most people who use smear campaigns have several things in common. Join us tomorrow, when we’ll look at the profile and behaviors of the typical smear campaigner.
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For information about workplace bullying, visit bullyonline.org