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What is a Workplace Bully?
What is a Workplace Bully, and What are Their Behaviors?
Is someone at work causing you stress, and you're wondering why? There is a good chance that what you're facing is a workplace bully.
In this article, we will discuss signs of a bully in the workplace; why bullies reorganize to go undetected; and personality traits of the people that bullies like to pick on (targets).
Resources: At the end, there is an informational video on how to respond to a bully, filmed by the Workplace Bullying Org website. As well as, statistics, resources and links to websites with valuable information on workplace bullying and the steps you can take to deal with, and stop it.
What Signs Are There That a Bully is in the Workplace?
Bullies are usually associated with children and teenagers, but their bad behaviors don't always go away in childhood.
Some bullies don't change when they grow up. Instead of being at the playground, they're now in workplaces around the world. Bullies at work don't always stand out like they did when they were younger. Their bullying at work is usually more of a psychological nature, making them harder to spot. However, there are signs in the workplace if a bully is lurking in the midst.
Why Do Bullies "Reorganize?"
Bullies have certain tactics that they like to use. A popular one is "reorganizing" to go undetected.
What Personality Traits do Workplace Bullies Look for in Targets?
Bullies often target the person that they feel most threatened by in the workplace, either for competency reasons or those related to popularity. If you are currently dealing with, or have dealt with a workplace bully, and want to know the answers to these questions, keep reading.
If workplace bullying is a problem for you, at the end of the article, you will find resources where you can get more information and help for you and your family.
What are the Behaviors of a Workplace Bully?
You're probably dealing with a workplace bully if they:
- Constantly say hurtful things
- Make fun of your work
- Always try to make you look bad
- Have blocked your request for training or a promotion.
- Poke fun at you about your race, sex, economic background, education, family, or sexuality.
- Stops you from working with others, or excludes you from joining in on activities that relate to your job.
- Plays games with your head
- Gangs up on you, and gets others to do the same.
- Intimidates you so you feel undervalued.
- Gives you meaningless tasks that have nothing to do with your position.
- Gives you projects with impossible deadlines, or doesn't give you the resources you need to complete it.
- Changes your schedule or hours on purpose, to make your life difficult.
- Purposely doesn't tell you about information you need to complete your work properly.
- Grabbing, pushing, tripping, and shoving you at work.
- Threatening you with equipment or other objects that can be used as a weapon.
- Hazing or initiation where you have to do something humiliating to be accepted in the workplace.
What A Workplace Bully Is Not
Some practices in the workplace may seem like they're unfair, but they're not bullying. Your boss has the right, within reason, to:
- Transfer you to another department
- Give you a demotion
- Discipline you if necessary
- Fire you
Telltale Signs That Someone Is a Workplace Bully
What is a Workplace Bully and how can you Spot Them?
If someone is a workplace bully, even if people don't say it out loud, there are telltale signs you can look for. Knowing these signs, will also help if you are thinking about taking a job with a certain company.
- They will have a high turn over of staff.
- High rates of absenteeism due to sickness.
- Morale is down in the department where they work.
- People working around the bully are overly stressed, particularly if their jobs aren't stressful.
- Staff takes early retirements
- People claim sickness as a reason for retirement.
- Excessive use of disciplinary measures.
- Work suspensions
- You will hear them make unkind and unnecessary comments about other staff.
- The use of private security companies to watch employees
- Legal action against employees
What is a Workplace Bully and Why do They "Reorganize"
One of the most popular tactics used by workplace bullies to go undetected is to regularly "reorganize." They do this because of the advantages it gives them to continue bullying, and not face the consequences.
- When they reorganize, if someone is a problem or challenges them, they can be ousted by downsizing, or transferring them.
- If it's an advantage for the bully, such as someone accepting their bullying, they can redefine their job so they work more closely with them.
- Every reorganization is a way for the bully to hide their behavior. Everyone is focused on dealing with it; so the bully's workplace behavior can go undetected.
- The workplace bully can always give the excuse that they are reorganizing for efficiency reasons, and thus be seen as a strong management member.
Who do Workplace Bullies Generally Target?
As stated earlier, bullies generally go after the person who is more popular or more competent than they are. Other qualities they look for in a target are:
- Intellect and intelligence
- Integrity and honesty (qualities bullies hate)
- Dependability, loyal, trusting, trustworthy, conscientious
- Give 110% to their work and expect co-workers to do the same.
- Determined, successful, courageous, diligent
- Good sense of humor
- Creative, innovative, imaginative
- Able to master new skills, and think long-term.
- Empathetic, sensitive, respectful
- Easy going and not quick to get angry
- Helpful, and willing to share their experience and knowledge.
- Have trouble saying no
- Tolerant of others
- Takes the opinions of others over their own.
- Prefers solving conflict rather than taking legal or physical action.
- Forgiving nature
- Not assertive
- Need to be valued
- Approval seeking
- Strong desire to be reasonable
- Copes well under pressure
- Internalizes anger
Click the Amazon link for other books co-written by the Authors Gary and Ruth Namie
Do you Need Help With a Workplace Bully?
What You Can Do To Stop The Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity On The Job
These are powerful words. Does Gary Namie follow through with his book? What are his credentials?
Gary Namie is a social psychologist and is considered by many to be North America’s foremost authority on Workplace bullying. He is the director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, and the national Healthy Workplace Bill legislative campaign. He has also written and co-written an additional 3 books on the topic of workplace bullying with his wife Ruth. For more information about the good Doctors, click the Amazon link above.
In this book, The Bully at Work, Dr. Namie doesn't just tell you how to deal with a bully in the workplace; it also provides insight into the mind of a bully. Sometimes to fix something, you have to go to the source.
American Workplace Bullying Statistics
What you can do About a Workplace Bully
Below is a group of resources you can use to help you deal with your situation. Not only do they answer the question "What is a workplace bully," they give you steps to deal with a bully, and provide insights into how the mind of a bully works.
Free Resources: What is a Workplace Bully? and How do you Deal With Them?
- Dr. Michelle Callahan: 10 Tips for Dealing with Bullies at Work
This article, written by Dr. Callahan provides 10 practical tips on what you can do to deal with workplace bully, that you can start using today.
- Workplace Bullying Resources and References | CPI
Workplace bullying comes in more forms, at every level, and often goes unnoticed. Developing an understanding of workplace bullying is crucial to dealing with bullying behaviors. CPI offers a wealth of resources to help employees deal with it.
Video - Ways to deal with a Workplace Bully
How many times in your career have you seen a workplace bully in action?
What is a Workplace Bully? Your Comments
Please share any comments or suggestions you have, with fellow readers. Particularly if you have resources not mentioned in this article.
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