7 Ways To Spot A Workplace Bully
You know how they say if you can’t tell who the ugliest person in the room is…then it’s probably you? I think the same is true for bullying. I hate to break it to you, but if you don’t think there are bullies at your workplace, you’re probably it. And to all the people who tell me that your workplace is so great this never happens, then congrats! (but I don’t believe you).
I can tell you the exact moment I was bullied for the first time in the workplace. But I won’t, it’s boring. I will, however, tell you I’m just like anyone who’s ever been bullied to the point of breakage, I remember the experience vividly. It made an impact on me and drove me to change how I interacted with certain kinds of coworkers. It also gave me the resolve to never work for a company that fostered a culture of bullying. And I haven’t since.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect. Because ever since that experience that I remember so well, I’m willing to bet that I’ve unknowingly bullied someone. And I bet you have too.
For some, bullying is a lifestyle – these people are the easiest to spot and avoid (seriously, I should have seen her coming, but my blonde highlights, I mean…my natural color…got in the way). For the rest of the bunch, moments of bullying are passing. But impactful. And people in this category are the ones I’m writing to here. The ones who have been bullied or the ones who have bullied in random situations. For the sake of the conversation, let’s say I’m only talking to…all humans.
Our moments of bullying come from a bevy of scenarios. Take your pick. If you’re competitive in the workplace or work in an industry where you have no choice not to be, you could be familiar with a little term called jealousy (we’ve all been there). Little random moments of jealously can drive you to become a bully in the blink of an eye. For others, it’s simply survival in a cut-throat environment (no one likes to see the boss stomping down the hall!). Sometimes its anger (payback’s a…well, you know). Whatever it is, we can all agree that bullies are rarely born from sunshine’y happy internal moments that we would admit in public.
Here are just a few of the bullying tactics out there.
You torment. Ahh, this category has endless possibilities. You ignore someone. You bug them too much. You don’t invite them to lunch. You bombard them with meetings. You intentionally disregard emails. You don’t listen to instructions and make them do extra work. You can find a number of ways to torment a colleague, I’m sure you’ve all gotten creative. Each time you’re doing something you know will annoy a colleague, you’re being a bully. Here’s the caveat though, we all annoy each other! So when I talk about tormenting, I’m not referencing the torment that comes from different working styles and different personalities. I’m talking about the intentional instances.
You tattle. I’ll say this as professionally as I can – tattling about stupid stuff is stupid. When I tattled as a child (I’m the middle kid, of course I tattled), my parents were just as mad at me as they were at my sister for <insert whatever highly inappropriate, illegal and offensive act that big sisters do to make your life more difficult>. And now as a grown adult in the workplace, I see the same thing happening. The tattler looks just as foolish as the one who did the wrong. Why not, instead, work with the person who frustrated you and fix the problem before it turns into a wildfire of they-said-they-said?