Getting ignored, made fun of, yelled at, left out and talked about behind your back at work? Yes, you may be a victim of workplace bullying. You need to know about the bullying cast of characters and how to overcome their toxic games.
Navigating the Cast of Office Characters
Mobbing is an office phenom when a group of people -- the Mob Squad -- gang up and bully the heck out of you. Their purpose is to humiliate and discredit you, all in an attempt to get you fired (Bwah-hah-hah)! The solution to dealing with the mob is a tricky. Your instinct may be to confront them head-on, but that's drama you want to avoid ... duh, they outnumber you! Instead, ignore them, even be down-right friendly. Get your power back by not engaging them. Not to mention, you're not making it easy for them to play their game. They may even give up on you, and the mob will fall to pieces.
Sometimes bullies are coworkers, and sometimes they're an unrealisteic, mean boss. According to a study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 72 percent of workplace bullies are bosses. A bullying boss yells at you, criticizes you and excludes you, among other horrors, and is a more difficult bully to handle because she has your career in her hands -- at least at present. This is a bully you need to confront. Don't go in and tell her she sucks, but respectfully let her know you don't appreciate the unfair treatment and you're not going to take it anymore. Ask what you can do to improve your working relationship. If this approach doesn't work, you may need to look for a new gig.
The ring leader, motivated by jealously, is the troublemaker behind the Mob Squad and is usually in a position of authority -- and could even be your boss. These bullies are dangerous because they can use their power to withhold information critical to do your job, not invite you to important meetings or change deadlines at the last minute -- all to make you look incompetent. One way to deal with a ring leader is to pretend you don't know she's the leader of the mob and attempt to be overly friendly. Stop by her office for a morning chat or offer to bring her cup of coffee when you get yours. If she sees you in a different light, she might ditch the dirty tricks and attempt to be friends. It could happen.
The back-stabbing bully is one of the worst, because she's disguised as a friend. You've confided to this "friend." You've complained about your boss, you told her personal stories and you told her about some of your great ideas for an upcoming project, only to find out she's gone behind your back and used your conversations against you, damaging your reputation, slandering you and presenting your ideas as her own. What to do? First, stop blabbing to her. Distance yourself from the backstabber. Instead, form bonds with other coworkers and mentors who can offer a supportive environment. Above all, take the high road and don't retaliate by spreading gossip about the backstabber.
- Workplace Bullying Institute: US Workplace Bullying Survey, 2010
- PBS: This Emotional Life - Adult Bullying
- Overcome Bullying.org: Workplace Bully Types
- Respectful Workplace: How to Successfully Deal with the Office Bully
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images