The Johnson Treatment

Workplace bullies are skilled manipulators and politicians who harass others not out of social frustration but to fulfill their professional ambitions. Take Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, for example. His bullying and coercive tactics were so legendary that they were termed “the Johnson Treatment.” Below you can see Johnson effectively giving Senator Theodore Green of Rhode Island the Treatment.


On his somewhat irreverent Dead Presidents Tumblr, self-proclaimed presidential historian Anthony Bergen describes Johnson’s bullying tactics beyond physical intimidation: “Lyndon Johnson had an innate, often stunning ability to read the personalities of others and immediately understand exactly how to ingratiate himself with them…Johnson would tailor his strategy differently for everybody he approached, and his success rate was astonishing.” Johnson sought out those who would propel his career forward, often stating “Power is where power goes.”

While a president is a rather extreme example, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, more than 50% of workers have witnessed workplace bullying. Read more about the characteristics and effects of a potential workplace bully in our ebook Bullying Their Way to the Top and avoid hiring employees who might dole out their own version of the Johnson Treatment.