“Office bullies are extremely toxic individuals in the workplace. They are called bullies because they relentlessly pursue a campaign of personal destruction aimed at one person in particular,” says Chemory Gunko, founder of my-coach-online.com, an innovative life coaching portal designed to bring you online career coaching resources 24/7. She gives us a breakdown on how to spot bullies and how to take action when bullied in the work place.
HOW TO SPOT A BULLY
Bullies are easy to spot; you can spot them through their obvious outbursts, threatening behaviour, frequent harassment and ridicule of others. Here are other characteristics of bullies:
- They will use recurring angry outbursts as a weapon.
- They will offer up serious threats of failure or use guilt and shame to appeal to your sense of duty.
- If the bully feels someone needs to be taught a lesson they will embarrass the person in front of others.
- They intentionally harass others and are always looking for a scapegoat and someone to blame.
- They are verbally abusive and will publically ridicule or humiliate the object of their bullying.
- They may dominate meetings by arguing, criticising, using sarcasm and spewing insults.
- They are emotionally volatile to the point of physical aggression against lifeless objects such as slamming down the phone, throwing an object across the room or pounding on a table.
- They will roll their eyes and cough to undermine what other people are saying.
- They will socially exclude the person they are bullying.
- Claims the ridicule was nothing but good-natured teasing. He/she would say things like: “I was just kidding.” “Why are you so sensitive?” “You need to lighten up or you need to learn to take a joke.”
- They will sabotage and prevent work from getting done, or withhold resources from others.
- They will leave the object of their bullying out of important meetings or fail to share information.
- They steal others’ work or ride on the success of other’s work to get ahead.
- They build alliances in the company and undermine anyone who won’t support him/her.
- This bully will gather damaging information on his opponents, or blame them for any failures.
HANDLING THE BULLY
If you believe your health and career are being damaged and you want to take this to your manager or HR person, you will need as much proof as possible.
You may want to approach another co-worker to give “evidence” of the bullying – this will support your report. While others might be reluctant to get involved, the truth is that the bully is disliked, so others will rally by your side. If this is not the case, next time you are the object of their rant, turn on your recorder on your mobile phone. If you are being repeatedly bullied you will have many chances to do this. Gather as much proof as necessary to be taken seriously, because the bully will not take kindly to you standing up for yourself.
If you feel isolated in the work environment where bullying occurs, it is more challenging to survive without a good support system. If you enjoy what you do as well as the engagements with others it may be worth your while to guard yourself against these assaults and ignore the person. Should this be a direct superior though, you may want to reconsider your options. There are times to fight and there are times when it is soul destroying to remain in the situation, especially if you have little chance of getting to a win-win situation.
If your confidence and self-esteem are being compromised, it could spill over into a new job, should you decide to leave. Therefore, timing is important if your only option is to escape. Make a list by clearly specifying what you would gain versus what you would lose by staying in that environment, or leaving it. Be sure to focus on all aspects including your confidence, composure and self-respect. Rate each aspects importance so that you do not forget them at a later stage. And if the negatives outweigh the positives, what else could be keeping you locked into an unpleasant situation?