Workplace bullying is for real! I recently took a class on workplace bullying. I learned that more than 30% of Americans have been bullied at work. This is crazy, but some of the things that I’m going to share with you actually happened to me in one of my previous jobs.
While I don’t consider myself an easy target or weak person. However, many of the cases of bullying are perpetrated by someone in a position of power or authority. Once I learned this, I saw exactly how so many people are bullied. Just so you know, peers and even subordinates have also been known to engage in bullying.
A bully is a person that is insecure, paranoid, and/or a control-freak. Their aim is to diminish, belittle and ultimately demolish their target through increasingly hostile behavior.
Here are five signs that you might be getting bullied at work:
- Inconsistent standards
Others in your job get treated great with exciting and desirable projects/assignment or perks like flextime or great travel assignment. Meanwhile you get the crappy work and have to beg for time off, or your classes and other requests are denied without good reason. I can relate to this one.
- Moving performance targets
Say you’ve been given a directive with certain objectives for a project or assignment. You work hard only to find out, suddenly, that there’s a change in direction on the project. Your progress is not celebrated or applied to the new project. Forget about being acknowledged! This can also happen when your performance plan or goals change midstream.
This has also happened to me. I felt like I was thrown in a dark room to hit a target and all along it just kept getting moved!
- You’re removed without a valid explanation
All of the sudden, you’re excluded from meetings you once attended. Another thing that can happen is that you go away on leave or travel and you come back and decisions have been made without you and your co-workers are acting funny by avoiding you and keep interaction to a minimum. You also may find that you’re no longer invited to after hour informal outings.
- You’re verbally putdown or abused
You’re subject to negative, abusive language. Or you are putdown especially in meetings or other events. Verbal abuse can be more subtle than outwardly aggressive insults. Joking can also be a form of abuse if it leaves you feeling uncomfortable and/or putdown.
- Your work is consistently criticized publicly or diminished
You work hard and produce excellent work and it is not acknowledged by your supervisor and/or they give the credit to others in a public setting such as a meeting. I think this may have happened to a lot of people including me. This really sucks!!!
It seems like from your supervisors perceptive, you can’t do anything right. Feedback is always given in the form of criticism and delivered in a way to make you feel bad about yourself. There’s no effort to provide guidance, mentoring, or encouragement.
As I mentioned, some of these things have happened to me. I took a lot of this madness because I thought it would change if I did a better job. After a while, I felt like I was in an abusive relationship. A past supervisor did some of the things above, then she would come around and ask me about my weekend or my family and we were cool again. This went on for far too long. I had to finally say enough is enough. I moved on and never looked back. The major thing that I took from those experiences is to treat people with love and respect.
If you are in a miserable work situation, you might be putting your health at risk. If mentally, you’re drained and your energy is depleted or you’re sleeping more and find it hard to get out of bed, you might need to make a change. Bullying can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings. There are also physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, sleeping troubles and loss of appetite (or excessive eating). In extreme cases, the effects of bullying can also lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Life is too short. If this is you, you need to make a change.
Have you ever been bullied at work? What was your experience like?