Bullying in the workplace takes all shapes and sizes, from managers bullying employees to co-workers bullying each other. If all forms of bullying were as overt as taking your gas money or smacking you on the head at the water cooler, anyone could spot the offensive act, but not all bullying is so in your face. Subtle bullying in the workplace is harder to identify and stop.
Unlike playground bullies who are in your face, a workplace bully has had years to develop new tactics to prove she can control you and hinder your progress within the organization. One tactic is to withhold vital information from you that affects your job. For example, a bully may fail to send you notice for a project planning meeting or remove important statistics from your desk. The act is intentional sabotage that is meant to make you look incompetent.
When you become the butt of her jokes about your work, your family or the way your dress, you are the victim of bullying. What is even more hurtful is when a group of people share the jokes. The jokes may escalate into hazing where you are intentionally humiliated in order to be accepted as part of the team. Hazing may take the form of pranks, destruction of property or sending out embarrassing emails about you to the entire company.
Managers have a lot of control over your success. When a manager tries to bully you into acting against you best interest and you do not comply, retaliation may come in the form of changing your work hours, giving you menial duties that are outside your job description or assigning you inane tasks with an unreasonable deadline. You are left feeling as if the bully wants you to quit or else the situation will get worse.
Sexual harassment is a form of bullying. Anytime someone insinuates that you must tolerate inappropriate touching, requests for dates or vulgar language, or your job will be on the line, you are a victim of bullying. Touching can be as innocuous as massaging your shoulders to pawing you in the elevator. Once you have told the bully to stop, any further touching is harassment. The same holds true with flirting, date requests and trash talk held within your hearing. No one has the right to make your workplace a hostile environment.
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