In the previous article, Workplace Bullying Part 1, we talked about what workplace bullying is and the experiences outside and at work that may be indicators that you are being bullied. Before we move on, let me tell you about a time that I was the bully. I am ashamed to admit it but there was an older woman that I worked with in a salon and she was well liked and had the shift that I wanted. So I picked on her at work and made mean jokes that eventually hurt her feelings enough to have her husband call and threaten me at work. By the way, this did not work it simply made me more powerful and I laughed at her for the effort. She left the position and I got her shift, which was the main goal. However, looking back it was a stupid thing to do. I missed working with her and the kindness that she brought with her into the salon every day. My actions led to others treating others badly for the same effect and unfortunately one of my best friends in the salon was targeted and was fired. I am ashamed to have been the bully and to have done this to someone else. I regretted it back then and am still shamed because I was the a-hole at work. My actions were not worth it and I am very sorry to this dear lady that I bullied.
In this article I would like to address who is a typical victim and who is a bully along with some important tips of what to do if you do find that you are being bullied.
Who is a Victim?
- The bully see’s you as a threat to their standing or job.
- You are a veteran or the most skilled person in the workgroup.
- You are independent and refuse to be subservient to the bully.
- You are more technically skilled then the bully.
- You are well liked at work and have excellent social skills with greater emotional intelligence then the bully.
- You are ethical and honest with dignity (whistleblower).
- You are non-confrontational so you do not respond to aggression at work.
Who is a Bully?
- They cannot stand to share credit for ideas or recognition with a subordinate (usually a boss or veteran employee).
- They escalate their campaigns of hatred and intimidation to wrest control of target’s work trying to make them less credible.
- They make it so that others side with them and eventually succeed at isolating the victim.
- The bully is never reprimanded at work because of excuses like “it’s the way it is around here” or “this is a competitive job”.
- They have aggressive tendencies that are labeled by others as ambition.
- They kiss up or ingratiated themselves with people of power in the company to not have their actions questioned.
What can you do if you are a Bully?
To put it nicely you are “that guy” at work that everyday your co-workers wish you would get fired or get transferred out of their department or in some cases, hit by a bus. If you’re a bully and you really want to change, it may be beneficial to talk to a counselor about your behaviors at work. Chances are you were led astray to believe that your behaviors were effective or that it is the only way to get things done. There are also great books about what it takes to be a respected and loved leader and how to develop emotional intelligence. I have listed some references for you to start your journey here.
Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (this one also has a handy workbook you can use to develop your skills)
I want to stress that if you really want to change, you can. It’s hard and at times painful to evaluate yourself and the actions that we take, but well worth it.
What can you do if you are bullied?
Talk with HR. Although bullying is not illegal in the U.S., they may be able to assist to diffuse the situation. However, it should be noted that they are not likely to make much of a difference because they have limited power over the bully or their boss.
There are plans out there to discredit bullies. I will not be talking about them because I believe that it isn’t worth the effort. Bullies are excellent liars and manipulators. If you want to play that game go ahead but I think this may be more hurtful to you in the long run and most of the time it makes you a bigger target.
Talk to a counselor about the situation. It sounds weak or that you may be labeled as a crazy person but they may be able to help you through the psychological damage that occurs when you are bullied so that you can get yourself back on track. For the record it’s not weak and it does not make you look crazy. You are doing something to take care of yourself.
The best advice that I can give you is to take some time off to evaluate what you want in a job and a plan to get there. Start to be productive about the situation and make a plan to leave that environment. Success comes from talented people and companies that loose talent due to bullying won’t be in business forever. There is a company that wants your talent and what you have to offer.
Most importantly, it is not your fault that this situation evolved and that you were targeted. Just remember you’re not the first one and you won’t be the last one in that company. You have exceptional value or you would not have been targeted in the first place. As strange as it seems, it is a compliment. Don’t put up with workplace bullying. I know I have watched it happen to others and I was too afraid to say anything and I didn’t understand what was happening at the time. Being older and wiser I would like to say I am sorry to those that I did not standup for and to anyone that may have felt bullied by me.