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Don’t Bow Down to the Office Bully

Bullying is not child’s play anymore. It’s on the rise at work

Businesswomen facing off

It's best to deal with an office bully face-to-face (Image: ThinkStock)

Almost any overly aggressive, inappropriate or unprofessional behavior—particularly if it occurs repeatedly and is designed to intimidate, humiliate or undermine—fits the bill. This includes being routinely yelled at, cursed at, insulted, gossiped about or excluded. Left unchecked, bullies cut to the heart of a company’s productivity and damage the bottom line as their victims’ morale and confidence plummet resulting in lost time at work due to stress related illnesses that can lead them to quit or, in the most extreme instances, even commit suicide.

Workplace bullying is no joke.

Sadly, the weak economy and high unemployment have combined to make office bullying numbers go up, but the incidence of reporting has gone down. Fearful of losing their jobs, victims are not seeking intervention. Even more sadly, the baseline abominable behavior we’ve become accustomed to in our reality-TV driven culture, has made many of us more accepting of treatment that is outrageously unacceptable. But Kelly didn’t hesitate to sound the alarm.

When the company’s regional sales manager berated her for “poor” sales, Kelly did her own research and discovered that 2011 sales goals were much higher than they had been the year before, despite the economy and the fact that half of her gym was under renovation. She also found that, while they were below goal, her team was exceeding actual 2010 sales, something the regional manager had failed to mention.

When the regional manager told Kelly that the other GM’s resented her for suggesting changes to corporate, Kelly reached out to her peers directly and learned that they was a lie. In fact, the other GMs confided that they also felt mistreated but, unaware that it was a general issue, they’d been afraid to speak up.

Armed with this information, Kelly fired off a letter to the company president and her direct boss, documenting in detail the regional manager’s behavior and accusing her of creating a hostile work environment that was detrimental not only to her success, but to the company’s overall success. The president is looking into it himself.

While the outcome isn’t yet clear, Kelly is. “I won’t work with someone like that, period,” she told me. “The company will decide who they want to keep. If it’s not me, I’ll find another job. What bothers me is that so many of the other people I work with don’t have the confidence to say that. Or they just can’t afford to take the risk.”

A tight economy is no excuse to tolerate poor, unfair treatment. Don’t get bullied, get help from Human Resources. And, if you have no other option, get out. No job is worth your self-respect or your health.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments: Have you ever been bullied at work?

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • Albert Hall

    Workplace bullying should never be tolerated. Some people think they can get away with bullying because of their position or or their tenure at the workplace. Until you confront this bully respectfully he or she will continue their charade. Workplace bullies exist because of either insecurities that have been unaddressed or use this behavior to intimidate and manipulate their co-workers and conditions around them.

    • Angelina Jolie###

      definite acknowledgement to all the women of color in technology. There’s plenty of us, but our media usually gives so much attention to the athletes, singers and actresses who deserve recognition, but it’s nice to see a balance. Thank you
      A wide range of Australian made UGG Boots and sheepskin leather products.

  • anon

    At my last job as a mid-level marketing exec, on my 2nd day, my direct supervisor told me that I looked very similar to the woman that her husband had cheated on and left her for. In that moment, I knew that I was doomed.

    During the 5 months that I worked at that establishment, before finding new employment, she treated me like I was worthless. She would create issues that did not exist, even accusing me of having a sexual relationship with a married peer of mine!

    I complained to her direct supervisor, the regional manager, and after my third complaint I was offered a very lucrative severance and benefit package if I resigned. Wanting to get out and also go back to school to receive my MBA, I decided this was the best plan for me.

    Following up with coworkers, it turns out that she was later fired for accusations of stealing and embezzlement. It was never proven, but she was let go.

  • Vanessa

    I went through this for two years (2006-2008) but at the time I didn’t realize it was “bullying”. It was a supervisor who only targeted me EVERYDAY. I at the time was 22 & she was 27. I don’t know why she only mistreated me but her BS got WAY out of control when she tried to frame me for stealing money that I DID NOT TAKE. She used her position to her advantage by using the other workers as her pawns in her twisted quest to sabotage other employees. She made lots of fake write ups on me which were used to get me fired in the end, she got her way. She has ruined me mentally because during that time I was seriously plotting to “harm her” (if you know what I mean). And now I don’t trust any boss, co-worker, or supervisor. I am always on the defense and I don’t get close to anyone in the work place. But the funny thing is she got fired a year later. Her sabotage came back to bite her in the rear end.

  • Xavier

    As a project manager dealing with high profile projects I experienced this repeatedly at work but fought back each time. It doesn’t have to get nasty, but standing for yourself while doing an OUTSTANDING job provides some leverage.

    CAUTION: I don’t hold a job dear so unless you are ready to move on, humble pie may be the only recourse.

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  • Angelina Jolie###

    As a project manager dealing with high profile projects I experienced this repeatedly at work but fought back each time. It doesn’t have to get nasty, but standing for yourself while doing an OUTSTANDING job provides some leverage.
    CAUTION: I don’t hold a job dear so unless you are ready to move on, humble pie may be the only recourse.
    A wide range of Australian made UGG Boots and sheepskin leather products.

  • Poetry

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