This is my response to the article that I wrote about a nightmare bully boss, which was published on thrive global in August this year.
If you haven’t read the original article I wrote about workplace bullying you can do so here https://thriveglobal.com/stories/what-to-do-when-your-boss-is-a-nightmare/
I’ve had a lot of comments around this article and it’s created quite a conversation around the topic of workplace bullying. Marlene Hope wrote a brilliant response to my original article please go here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-do-when-your-boss-nightmare-response-marlene-marlene-hope/ It allowed me to reflect on how things have changed for me since I wrote this piece as I did write it in 2014 on my original blog.
Since then I did go back to work and was bullied again by a more aggressive type of bully. In fact, I have women come to me who are in similar positions and I wouldn’t keep my head down now. I would tell them to do something about it. I was suffering from depression and anxiety and although I mentioned it to my manager at the time. It fell on deaf ears, so I didn’t bother raising it again. I didn’t have the fight in me to do something, for me restarting my business was my focus so I left it.
The truth is you are meant to feel safe at work so if someone is intimidating you or making you feel uncomfortable it’s not right. You have a right to protect yourself.
Micromanager or bully boss
Sometimes we may have a boss who likes to email us a lot or check up on our progress because they are a control freak. If they do this and it’s not aggressive or rude you will know the difference. A bully boss on the other hand, may make it personal or undermine you in front of others so know the difference.
If you closely see how they interact with you and notice, it’s how they are with everyone chances are they are a micromanager rather then a bully boss so it’s important to be aware of this. I wanted to mention this because there can sometimes be blurred lines around this and it’s important you don’t confuse the two.
Signs of workplace bullying
So, I want to share some signs of workplace bullying because it’s a topic that isn’t always easy to spot and many people believe it can’t happen in the workplace. Surely as adults we should be pass this by now, but some people just continue to bully.
- Aggressive and rude behaviour – This could be either directly over email, phone or in person. They may use aggressive language, shout at you or in general are not respectful to you and may seem angry and aloof when they talk to you or are annoyed and irritated.
- Only one who they have an issue with – If you get along well with your other colleagues and it’s your boss who is always making comments when you have a review or seems to constantly criticise you or say things like. “I know you did that bit of work, but you didn’t do this” They may likely never praise you and pick holes deliberately.
- Being picked on or undermined – They may pick on you in team meetings to answer a question or undermine your performance and show that nothing you ever do is good enough to make themselves feel bigger and better.
- Taking credit for your work – You may have done a great piece of work and once they see it, they take it off you and take credit for it without mentioning you had anything to do with it.
- Giving you extra work, they know you can’t finish on time – Piling on the work so you must work late or work longer hours knowing you won’t finish it in time and thus blaming you when you don’t. In fact, setting you up to fail deliberately so they can remind you of this.
- Blaming you for things – If something goes wrong at work you are the first person they blame. They say it’s because of you such and such happened or you forgot to do something that’s why it didn’t happen etc.
- Just being mean. – If they are just generally making your life hell it’s fair to say this is bullying. Or even leaving you out of important meetings or social events it’s deliberate and just plain mean
Tips around what you should do
So here I share some tips around what I would do instead and advise others if you think you are being bullied.
- Keep an incident diary. – If you suspect someone is bullying you at work write everything down and reflect on how this behavior is inappropriate or not. For example, picking on you in a team meeting, shouting at you, blaming you or unnecessarily, emailing you to ask if you did something in an accusing way. Anything that is aggressive and not respectful or decent behavior.
- Talk to them – if you are made to feel uncomfortable have a quiet word with them and explain why. If they don’t change their behavior, then further action may need to be taken.
- Report it– If after having a discussion nothing happens to tell another manager or someone in HR and report it as harassment or go to your trade union.
- Don’t feel ashamed – I felt a real sense of shame around my bullying and was in denial for a long time. You have nothing to be ashamed about if someone is making you feel bad you have a right to do something about this.
Don’t let a work place bullying incident effect your future growth. It’s happened to me twice now and although it was worst the second time, I have learned a lot from it. If you are going through it don’t look back, look forward. Most people who are bullied at work are good at what they do. The bully uses their own insecurities to bring you down it’s what they want. I would advise you look for another job, if the action you take isn’t resolved but don’t be afraid to stand up to them. I wish I had stood up to my bully but psychologically I was not in the right frame of mine to do so.
I have managed to move on from my experience and I want to say a massive thanks to Marlene Hope for helping me to write this. As it’s something I feel we should all be talking about more. I know I wouldn’t tolerate this now and neither would I encourage any of my clients to put up with it. You deserve to feel safe and respected at work.