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Workplace Bullies

Yahoo has a new article about workplace bullying: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20061031/sc_space/studyofficebulliescreateworkplacewarzone (Link courtesy of fiona64.)

One of the salient paragraphs is this:
Workplace bullying can include “screaming, cursing, spreading vicious rumors, destroying the target’s property or work product, excessive criticism, and sometimes hitting, slapping, and shoving.” Subtle behaviors, such as silent treatment, disregard of requests and exclusion from meetings, count as bullying.
I've had many of these happen to me during my working life, especially spreading vicious rumors, destroying the target’s property or work product, excessive criticism. Another one I'm familiar with is
The bullies were described as two-faced actors, narcissistic dictators and devils, leading workers to feel like vulnerable children, slaves and prisoners in these situations. As one employee explained, "I feel like I have 'kick me' tattooed on my forehead."
Been there.

But, like with so many others, it offers no solutions to the problem. Hell, the only one I know of is leaving.

Complaining usually doesn't work, because it's very hard to explain why criticism from one person is normal, but another person is vicious, constant, and abusive. It's not just what they say and do, it's how. The stress of being constantly under a microscope, constantly judged harshly, constantly criticized, constantly undercut and second-guessed, is horrific. Dealing with a passive-aggressive bully and management that plays along is degrading.

As I told one woman after a degrading, bully filled temp assignment: "I can probably make more money signing on a streetcorner, and it wouldn't be as bad for my health."

If you're experiencing bullying and stress-related illness, talk with your doctor. Document what effect the job is having on you, both with your doctor and in your own papers. It may come in useful if you have to apply for stress-related disability from it. I wish I had 20 years ago.

I'm glad that my current job is not like that. It has its ups and downs, but I don't have to deal closely with any of our bullies (and one just left....)



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 1st, 2006 09:58 pm (UTC)
I am still dealing with the effects of workplace bullying from my last job and it has been nearly three years. I think the bullying on top of the things happening in my private life just made my brain go into a strange kind of non-functional behavior. This is one of the reasons I am applying for disability. Just looking for a job after moving up here was sending me into paroxysms of fear.
Nov. 2nd, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
The guy who was my bully is the one whom I caught out violating a number of regs. He's the corporate compliance officer ... and guess who all of those complaints go to?

He made my life completely miserable and, as you know, ultimately trumped up a way to fire me after I turned him in to people over *his* head.

You're right; ultimately, the only way to deal with bullying is to get the hell out ... hopefully with your health still intact. I was astonished at how quickly the stomach symptoms started just by being in a shop across the street from my old office. No one needs that.
Nov. 2nd, 2006 10:35 am (UTC)
I'd add that managers often reward bullies by promoting them or making up little sub-management positions for them. Managers see scent-marking all over the workplace as a sign of commitment to the job, and constant cries of "We're a team!" as the best sign of ability to work with others.

Am I bitter? Yes. I just spent two hours cleaning up mess left by two of my co-workers--one lazy, the other a delusional, substance-abusing, mentally fragile bully. I've been written up once for "touching her stuff" and the letter managed to say both that initiative was welcomed and that I was not to move things around--clearly her moving things around is initiative, mine is obstruction, and I wonder whether my soda bottles, books, chips, makeup, and other clobber would be sacrosanct?

Oh well . . . every other manager I've had has been worse.

Nov. 3rd, 2006 12:18 am (UTC)
I think tech nurtures abusive work environments. At least, it's been my experience. I have waaay too many hair-curling stories, and the majority involve bosses with abusive temperaments that make Mr. Dithers in Dagwood seem like a sweet guy.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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