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by Joshua Miller

Bullies are everywhere these days; they don’t just roam the halls of some school like a bad 80’s movie but walk among us in plain site through the halls of our workplace. Some of us actually know one, been on the receiving end of one or at best has watched one in action.

If you are being bullied, it’s time to stand up, speak up and fight back (sort of – but not really because I don’t want you to get fired from your job) and reclaim both your office space and mental space.

School’s in session, read on.

The first thing to know is that there is an organization dedicated entirely to Workplace Bullying called the WBI (Workplace Bullying Institute) – yes, I am serious and no I am not making this up. I mainly used this site for my research to gather some interesting data such as:

  • Bullying is 4X more prevalent than illegal harassment.
  • 35% of workers have experienced bullying first hand.
  • Women bullies target other women in 80% of the cases.
  • 68% of bullying is the same-gender harassment. 
  • Workplace bullying is verbal, physical social or psychological abuse by your employer or manager or another person or people at work.

WHO DO BULLIES TARGET IN THE WORKPLACE?
According to the The Workplace Bullying Institute, most targets of this behavior possess some sort of “threat” to the bully. Targets are generally more liked, are more socially adept, and have higher emotional intelligence than their intimidator.

Targeted individuals also may have more technical prowess, and tend to be more ethical and honest. However, the bullied tend to be non-confrontational as well. This characteristic may harm the target greatly because the stress from the situation becomes internalized, creating mental and physical problems.


THE IMPACT OF WORKPLACE BULLYING:
Stress, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, higher blood pressure, ulcers. And if that wasn’t enough, it also affects your job performance in ways such as:

  • Having trouble making decisions
  • An incapacity to work or concentrate
  • A loss of self-esteem
  • Lower productivity

Bullied workers not only lose motivation, they lose time because they are preoccupied with:

  • Trying to defend themselves
  • Avoiding the bully
  • Networking for support
  • Ruminating about the situation
  • Planning how to deal with the situation

HOW YOU CAN SPOT A BULLY:
There are eight bully stereotypes you should watch out for:

  1. The Screaming Mimi. This is the most easily recognizable type of workplace bully because of their loud, obnoxious, and abusive behavior meant to berate and humiliate people. They thrive on the notion that others fear them.
  2. The Two-Headed Snake. To a co-worker’s face, this employee acts like a trusted friend or colleague. However, when the co-worker is out of earshot, this person will destroy this colleague’s reputation and even take credit for his work.
  3. The Constant Critic. This bully’s goal is to dismantle other people’s confidence through constant – and often unwarranted – criticism. A critic will look for any possible flaw in someone’s work and labors tirelessly to kill that person’s credibility.
  4. The Gatekeeper. Every office has at least one employee who gets off on wielding his or her power over others – regardless of whether that power is real or perceived. Gatekeepers deny people the tools they need – whether it’s resources, time or information – to do their jobs efficiently.
  5. The Attention Seeker. This type of bully wants to be the center of the action at all times. They’ll try to get on their superior’s good side through consistent flattery and even come on as kind and helpful to their peers – especially the newer employees. However, if co-workers don’t provide the right amount of attention, these bullies can quickly turn on them.
  6. The Wannabe. This is an employee who sees him or herself as absolutely indispensable and expects recognition for everything. But Wannabes aren’t usually very good at their jobs. To compensate, these bullies spend a majority of their time watching more competent workers and looking for areas of skilled workers’ performance to complain about.
    Because they’re automatically opposed to others’ ideas, they’ll do everything in their power to prevent changes to their work processes.
  7. The Guru. Generally, there’s nothing wrong with this bully’s work performance. In fact, it’s not unusual for a Guru to be considered an expert in his or her own niche area. What these bullies offer in technical skill, however, they severely lack in emotional maturity. As a result, they don’t consider how their actions will affect others, aren’t able to fathom the possibility that they can be wrong and don’t accept responsibility for their own actions.
  8. The Sociopath. Intelligent, well-spoken, charming and charismatic, sociopaths are the most destructive bullies of all. Reason: They have absolutely no empathy for others, yet they are experts at manipulating the emotions of others in order to get what they want. These bullies often rise to positions of power within the company, which makes them extremely dangerous.

Final thoughts:
Although bullies and bullying won’t be going away anytime soon, there are some excellent resources online to support you if you’ve fallen victim to this type of behavior. The first place I suggest when seeking help is your companies HR or People Operations Department.

The floor is yours: How do you prevent bullying in the workplace?  

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