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WORKPLACE BULLYING

RESPECT • CIVILITY • ACCOUNTABILITY

Being Ignored as a Bullying Tactic

Think of a time when you were ignored. Think of how you felt. Hurt, sad, puzzled, stressed… Did you think, “What’s wrong with me?” or “How come I was left out?” Or how about when you were brave enough to reach out and ask ‘why is this happening?’, and were met with a polished answer from the person that left you with more self doubt and no answers?

Now think about being ignored, left out and pushed aside…day after day…after day…after day…This repeated ignoring is one of the worst types of bullying known.

Social or interpersonal rejection occurs when an individual is deliberately excluded from an interpersonal or peer relationship. A person can be rejected by an individual or by an entire group of people (mobbing). Furthermore, rejection can be either overt, with acts of aggressive bullying; or passive such as ignoring a person, shunning or shaming.

Being Ignored as a Bullying Tactic: Being overlooked can feel distressing; we’ve all felt this from time to time. Being perpetually ignored feels rotten. To the degree a person is important to you, or to the degree you have expectations of that person that are not met, the more pain and rejection you will likely experience.

Being perpetually ignored is a bullying tactic and it involves what might appear as slight brush offs to the target in order for the bully to gain the upper hand. Remember, when these ‘slight brush offs’ happen over and over again, they evolve from slight to deliberately drastic from their continual impact of isolating the target. Examples are:

  • Not making eye contact with you in a meeting, but making eye contact with everyone else;
  • Walking into a social situation and reaching to shake another’s hand but brushing by you; not giving you the same level of interaction;
  • Engaging with others in conversation, asking them questions, perhaps joking around, then being tight lipped, formal and professionally polite for appearances sake, but by no means displaying the connect-ability they have toward others, toward you.
  • Leaving you out of email loops, formal information sharing and informal information sharing.

Have you ever been the last person to find out about the holiday schedule or have you ever been going about your work happily and you see a flock of co-workers discussing something in an unofficial capacity, but you were not asked your opinion; you were not invited in the first place?

But Wait, There’s More: How the Bully Further Isolates a Target:Skilled charming bullies will quickly double up their social interaction and attention they pull away from you and deposit it into others in order to gain favor with others…against you. Has this ever happened to you:

  • You have friends at work and you see the bully talking to these friends; joking around, really connecting and you are not invited.
  • The bully starts to create social situations, even talking casually at work, but always with you absent.
  • The bully shares ideas, jokes, social time with everyone else but you. There is an event; everyone is invited except for you. Everyone else thinks you couldn’t make it, but you know differently.
  • The bully starts to spread false innuendos about you to this group, further isolating you.
  • People that don’t even know you, start to believe what is being said. Ever heard of ‘group think’?
  • These new people start talking about you to others based on what they’ve heard and think to be true.

Why is This So Painful? Rejection is emotionally painful because of the social nature of human beings and our basic need to be accepted in groups. Abraham Maslow and other theorists have suggested that the need for love and belongingness is a fundamental human motivation. According to Maslow, all humans, need to be able to give and receive affection to be psychologically healthy.

Psychologists believe that simple contact or social interaction with others is not enough to fulfill this need. Instead, people have a strong motivational drive to form and maintain caring and respectful interpersonal relationships. People need both stable relationships and satisfying interactions with people in those relationships. If either of these two ingredients are missing, when they could easily be present or they are present for others then most people will begin to feel lonely and unhappy. Thus, rejection is a significant threat. In fact, the majority of human anxieties appear to reflect concerns over social exclusion.

The experience of rejection can lead to a number of adverse psychological consequences such as loneliness, low self-esteem, aggression, and depression. It can also lead to feelings of insecurity and a heightened sensitivity to future rejection.

So How Can You Cope?
 Many people will advise you to ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’. Most of the time, people say this because it makes them feel better to say it! What about you? Your feelings are real; the bullying is real. It can be very difficult to ‘just get over’ being ignored, isolated and abandoned from expected social interactions.

But your big question might be ‘but why me’? Excellent question. It is not fair to be perpetually ignored.

So, here are my top 5 suggestions for coping with being perpetually ignored:

  • First of all, practice acceptance of the reality, not necessarily the behavior. The more resistant you are, the more pain and anger you will feel. If you accept the fact that you are being ignored no matter how good of a person you are, it will make it easier. Even if you don’t agree with it, acceptance is the first step.
  • Put a time limit on the time you devote to trying to figure out ‘why this is happening to you’ and then have something else you can focus on; this really works!
  • Know you are not alone. This can help one feel connected to the 1000’s of others who have suffered as well and to know that you are not being isolated because of anything you did…it has more to do with the bully. Every negative feeling the bully has about others is really a reflection of the negative feelings they have about themselves. What drives bullying? A need for control over another, rooted in envy. This is about the bully, not you.
  • Seek out a community or group that you can feel love, acceptance, kindness, generosity, tenderness and support. You might wonder if such a group exists. Try http://emotionsanonymous.org. We are all in recovery as human beings!
  • Stay plugged in and protected. Keep learning so you are empowered. If you haven’t walked through the Bully Free at Work exercises and self-tests yet, be sure to do this soon! What gets measured gets treasured; you are a treasure; don’t forget!

I’ll leave you with this: some things we will not understand. Some things we will be unable to change. One thing we can change, protect and empower is ourselves. Keep protected. The truth will rise to the top and keep shining.

 

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235 responses to “Being Ignored as a Bullying Tactic”

  1. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    I am so very sorry for your many losses ~ and they are losses indeed. As humans, we hope for and somewhat expect connecting with others. It’s the essence of humanity. Your family losses are violations of your spirit and soul and this can play out in the rest of one’s life. What I’ve come to learn is that this often comes with grief ~ the grief of the loss of what could have been, the grief of the loss and the abuse of the “Code of Humanity” so to speak. It can become very difficult to trust again and to build somewhere, somehow. You have every right to feel sadness, grief and pain. I”m wondering if you have ever heard of a group called “emotions anonymous.org” ~ they ache 12 step meetings all over the world, in person, on the phone… you can google this on your area and perhaps that might be a community for one hour a week where people “get grief” and “get hurt” and can identify. I have personally benefitted and then the road back to one’s self worth has some cheer leaders. I acknowledge your pain and want to thank you for sharing. I suspect you are not alone but perhaps you might feel that way at times. Your new motto with your old tribe can be: “friendly, firm, but not familiar” ~ and now to move to a new tribe. Wishing you all the best and thank you for your courage in sharing. I know many in the same boat will feel kindred reading your message. Take care.

  2. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    Oh wow! This is very unfortunate. It sounds like you are willing ~ this is a good trait for a supervisor. There might be something you should know (blind spot) or, you are doing great work and the tribe just wants to continually act out and have a supervisor that lets them do that. Some thoughts are: 1. Go 1:1 with each employee and ask “is there anything I can do in my role to support or assist you with your job satisfaction”? 2. Ask them: “On a scale of 1-5, 5 being excellent, how would you rate your job satisfaction? Wait for a number ~ it’s unacceptable to have no number. IF not a “5” ask, “what could make it a “5”?” This put the focus on them to at least own why it’s not a “5”. Maybe it’s not a “5” because you hold them accountable! So, you’ll get some feedback here ~ babe there is some good feedback you can clear up. Meet staff 1:1, one right after the other so they do not have too much time to talk in-between. 3. Start writing people up! Find your most lazy employee, give them feedback on non-performance as a warning and then keep on it. Go all the way if behaviour does not change. This is why they created progressive discipline. Attitudinal things count as well such as very clear cases documented of disrespect. Then if you have a warning, and three times in violation, boom, time to go! Many think you cannot let people go in a union ~ read the union agreement ~ there is sure to be something on disrespectful behaviour. Make a note, quote it words for word, give a strong example and stay on it. The new bar will be set. You have a mob mentality here where the bar is low. You sound like an accountable boss. And you are the boss which is good ~ now time to sep into your power. All the best!

  3. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    It’s always tough when working with others ~ even at the best of times. It sounds like you may have different goals and different approaches. Whomever is formally in charge is likely to have the power. As a volunteer, it can be difficult to have power, especially if you have no official title or position of power as a decision maker. As an outsider, it is difficult for me to weigh in as I do not have all sides and there are some pieces missing for me to give “advice”. However, what I might say is you can have power if you have enough people believing in you, your ideas, your way. If you can gain that, then you can approach the decision makers as a group. The other thing to consider is what is important to them ~ are you in agreement and able to follow their goals and ways? They have been hired and put into position of authority and usually people in this role appreciate when people follow their lead. If someone opposes their lead, it has to be presented in a way that allows them to either come on side and not as a criticism. I’m not sure if that happened to not. And then there are times that volunteers really are working away well and the leadership has lost sight of the real service to it’s clients and there is a gap. If this is the case, how can you inspire them? One cannot shake hands with a closed fist. IF this is too much opposition, then you may find yourself more frustrated and it likely won’t change in which case you may find yourself finding a new spot to volunteer. I hope it works out 🙂

  4. Rose says:

    Volunteering at non-profit viewed to be the community darling, but client concerns ignored constantly and being mistreated. Unfortunately, doing individual advocacy has labeled me as a trouble maker. The head of our sub-organizatioin released my information to identity thieves from my home town, who are now starting to steal my identity in the state I am visiting. I told the higher up that I do not feel safe alone with the “boss” but was told I am required to trust him. Now these two people have joined together and started a group think where I am labeled as a bully with all the members and trouble by all the staff. I continue to help the vulnerable by changing laws to tell their truths and be heard. Now all of my accomplishments are ignored, and new members are asked about me behind my back and if they feel safe with me. Now the “bosses” laugh when they agree about my ideas being implemented in the future. And those who work with me that try to help the needy are ignored and the “bosses” give us assignments that are not used. And they change what they tell us in private and try to get us to leave with different tactics because we don’t support the things the non-profit does in secret. Some staff are scared to speak up and privately applaud me and our work in private. State legislators are angry by their behavior. Any advice? There is too much to write that is going on.

  5. DSN says:

    As a Supervisor, I have noticed that I am constantly being thrown under the bus and always under the microscope. If I make any small mistake, it’s not only exploited, its actually taken to the union and a grievance filed! I am the type of worker who does my work first and then takes time to do personal things. My coworkers like to play all shift and then get work done at the last moment. They do not follow policy and do not listen to anything I have to say. I am left out of everything, work related or not. In 8 years, I’ve never been invited to anything. Yet, they make plans in front of me all the time. I am friendly with people, laugh and joke around when I can and have given no one any valid reason to be upset with me. Everything I have done here was to try to make this place a better place for them to work. It depressing and I dread coming to work. Yesterday was my birthday. No one bothered to say anything. In the past, I’ve always at least gotten a card. This year, nothing. All these things added together, could it be a hostile work environment? I’d like to think so. No one would listen though…….

  6. LP says:

    I have been left alone my whole life except for the odd bad boyfriend but that ended ten years ago, too. I was adopted by people who went through with a full adoption (not fostering) but stopped talking to me as soon as I aged out (of the fostering age–a group I wasn’t in). I found out my dad died by searching him on the ‘net and finding his obituary, that my family that I’d eaten supper with for 17 years straight (‘aging out’ is 18 yrs), had had a funeral without me. That was the second one–they’d done the same with my dear Uncle (that was also left alone on a farm that he held on to with no help. I thought of a business idea to try to get together with him, went to a 2 year college course (it was organic farming–the land had to stay fallow for 5 years back then) only to get one of my only calls to tell me he was deceased. Being ignored continuously ongoing–is bad. But then I found people would (rarely) give a bit of small talk to my face then as I walked (presumably out of earshot) away, they’d switch abruptly to brutal ways of killing me. Someone put broken glass (finely shredded and unnoticeable in liberal quantity) on my pizza; I went through 5 hour major surgery by myself (though I did get a charitable visit from one lovely woman, which was nice, and a neighbour-patient moved their TV so I could watch their movie–it still makes me cry when I remember that. I was so grateful .Anyways, if they leave you alone THAT much…don’t go back, imo. Hateful people are much more lax about injuries and death and if they aren’t outright killing you, they are only waiting for you to run into a (deadly) calamity. That is a very strict ONLY.

  7. HRLady says:

    Thank you for providing this website!
    As a trainer, I make the differentiation between ‘bullying’ and ‘harassment’ on a regular basis and though they are distinct an employer leaves themselves exposed to liability when they fail to address the issue. Let your employer know that you are experiencing a problem, have a friend join you if it makes you feel more comfortable. The worst part of bullying is the embarrassment.
    Employers would be wise to pay attention.

  8. Doesn't matter says:

    Unfortunately, not the first time I’ve experienced it either. Even at college, had a woman who seemed dodgy but other people saw nothing wrong with her. Anywho, currently, a co-worker gradually started to exclude me from things, excludes me enough from social interactions e.g. invite everyone around me but me, everytime; however, not obvious enough to not include me in the mailing list. Funny thing is the bully is part of the support group, which feels like mostly a cover-up to seem good than actually helping. Besides that, they started to mix in comfortably with other co-workers, ending up in me being ignored by those co-workers too. I’ve made someone aware of the situation, however I am concerned and wonder why other’s behaviour changed. They do not look at me when I greet or ask questions, the bully tells me to Google something when I ask but would explain someone else in detail, etc. I feel like I hold no weight? It’s starting to affect my self worth, specially since I can’t recall doing anything to any of them while the other co-workers throw around jokes filled with insults and sarcasm. It’s like being punished for being nice and polite.

  9. Anger Mngt says:

    For years I have always had this problem at work, either with one individual or a group. Those who ignore you – you can bet it has happened to them – that is why they do it to you. They are not only bullies, but likely to be jealous of you. I use my religion to get me through the day, otherwise I’d be a mental case. Ways to get over it – don’t show that it bothers you – and kill it with kindness. They will then feel guilty. If that doesn’t work, forget them. God sees everything and they will get what they deserve in this life or the next.

  10. Mary says:

    Not every case of *Ignoring* can be considered bullying. Be very careful here. I work with two individuals who BOTH claim to be bullied. One, the first individual, is self-motivated and performs work as assigned. The second individual, is not self-motivated, and performs work as assigned but in some cases did not complete and lacked communication. What do the experts in this area say to do?? The self motivated employee has *never* filed a case against their bully. The non motivated employee filed a case against their bully and lost. You tell me what to do in this case.

  11. Mizbah King says:

    This article, and some replies, make a lot of sense to me and my current situation and some past ones. At times, I have felt shunned, blamed for others mistakes, negatively interpreted even when obviously joking. Overall, a very upsetting and demoralising experience.

  12. Patricia says:

    I started a new job 5 months ago. I was super excited,good pay,good benefits,good hours and 20 minutes from home. At first everyone was polite and this one coworker was excepcionally friendly. She also shared all lot from day one,even going as far as saying that after my interview (she was part of the pannel) she had to fight so hard for me because the supervisor (who is nice and supportive) did not liked me.
    After a few weeks she became distant,cold,aggressive at times,very unpredictable,then she became overfriendly,then bossy and this unpredictability is wearing me out. She is the only one close in age to me,all the others are much younger, and they would not engage voluntarily in conversations with me. They will respond politely if I start a conversation but everything pretty much ends there and no one shows interest in me,but they all interact with each other like best buddies. This is all very sad and depressing. I have always been able to relate socially and work very well with people,I have left all the places I worked at in a very positive way taking with me great job references and many dear friends. I just dont know how to handle this situation and it has started to take a toll on my health.

  13. A says:

    Thank you for this article, I’ve been unable to articulate exactly what has been happening and almost everything I’ve been experiencing you’ve talked about. I feel like I can talk about it now. The most awful thing about this type of bullying is that if no one notices, it’s so hard to prove. If I make a complaint I’ll be told I’m imagining it or being too sensitive. It’s subtle and cruel and feels like the perpetrator wants you, and others, to doubt your sanity.

  14. cdc says:

    I have been working for an university for 2 months now, the job is great as are all the academic colleagues, bizarrely it is the administrator who makes a point of not engaging socially (no eye contact etc) though will do so with others around me, more weirdly will do so with another in the same room whilst I am present…
    If i start a conversation then we talk, if i join a conversation with others she ultimately makes eye contact, but theres an inexplicable feeling of distance and disconnection, I am lost for words to try to begin to explain.

  15. Pariah Carey says:

    Reading this hits home. I am a doc review attorney and have been experiencing this treatment since I started at a well known company back in 2104. It started with women (I am female); and eventuay my male co-workers joined in as well as my Project Manager. I endured it, and horrible nicknames like “dark cloud” for 3 yrs. Then I left for new company and a few of those co-workers followed me where I am now and it’s a repeat performance with a good dose of work sabotage thrown in. My reputation has been ruined. I am shunned and treated as a pariah. I spend the whole day being ignored, and no one says/does anything. The lead here (a female) instructed the entire office to not speak to me. And nothing was done. Nothing. My work is over QC’d, while my counterparts spend the day chatting and gossiping. I’ve had co-workers pulling background reports on me and digging 13yrs into my past, printing out my loved one’s obituary, and spreading vile gossip, lies and rumors.

  16. Su 2 says:

    Firstly, I want to thank people for sharing their stories. Secondly, I wish there was some way of responding or replying to individual comments ! And thirdly, even though I have been the subject of bullying in a number of workplaces over my 40 years working, and have seen it occur to others, I have never actually been able to stand up for myself or address it – I always see it as more trouble than it is worse, in that, the situation would get a lot worse, before it got better and I just am not a confrontational person and I cannot deal with getting dragged in to verbal and emotional arguments that always end up with he said / she said and the winner is always the stronger personality. Once during a very severe case of bullying / mobbing behaviour that went on for well over a year, I was fortunate enough to find that two staff had approached the manager and had outlined the extremity of the bullying, how it was being done, who was doing it and pretty much exonerating me from all the gossip and bad performance reviews and exclusion tactics I had been subjected to. The bully ended up being the one who left the workplace and found another position when she was confronted. Thank God for those 2 women ! I have only left a couple of jobs due to workplace bullying and addressed the reasons with my supervisor or management when I was handing in my resignation.

    For the last 6 years I have been working in a high school with special needs students as an education assistant. I love this job. Obviously there are a very high number of female staff, always an environment that can be difficult, but as we all work in small classroom teams of 1 teacher to 3 EA’s, it is less of a problem as long as you fit in with your team for the year.

    For the first 3 terms of this year, I have been happy, worked well, and just a few weeks ago, had a superb performance management review by the deputy principal and with high praise from my teacher.

    for the entirety of the 3 terms I had been requested by my classroom teacher to manage the supervision of up to 15 students who were picked up by 2 separate buses, every Wednesday. The protocol is for a teacher and 2 EA’s to perform this duty, but my teacher never suggested that I be accompanied by herself or any other classroom staff member. It did not bother me. I managed the duty and though it could be a little fraught sometimes, there was never any issue. But the last Wednesday of term, there was an issue. I was left with a rather angry and uncooperative student who had been removed from the bus for bad behaviour. I am on the road with the student. I tried calling so many people to come and assist me in getting the student back to the office, but not one person, including my classroom teacher, answered the phone, or if they did, told me they could not come to assist.

    After 25 very long minutes with hundreds of mainstream students and their parents in vehicles, passing us by while my student is starfished screaming to the footpath outside school grounds and next to the road, I was finally able to convince her to walk to the office with me.

    Naturally when I entered the office I was obligated to report the incident to the deputy principal. The conversation, no matter how hard I tried to steer it back, kept returning to, why wasnt my teacher with me. I said it wasnt her fault, that I had been managing the duty all year, that other EA’s had offered to help if I ever asked, but again and again the deputy kept insisting that the person at fault was my teacher.

    At the end I was asked if the deputy should broach the incident with my teacher or I should. I said I would. Next day I go to work and I speak to my teacher, and I mention to her that I was not allowed to do this duty on my own anymore. My teacher did have to go and discuss the situation with admin, and I have no idea what they discussed, but it was enough to cause my teacher to believe that either I had deliberately acted against her, or she is unhappy that her role in not supporting the bus duty was noted and commented upon by the deputy principal. That part is out of my hands, and not my intent. However, the aftermath is … Well … everything has changed. By the end of the day, the teacher had informed me that I was no longer allowed to do the bus duty at all anymore, and that she would do it with another EA. She has instead put me in the position of supervising 3 students to parent pickup – these are the same 3 students that my teacher and 2 EA’s have been supervising one on one all year –

    From that day, she has not once spoken directly to me, will not acknowledge me when I arrive in the morning, or when she comes in, will not respond to any greeting. Deliberately excludes me from conversations with the other two EA’s in the class, directs me to what she wants me to do in the classroom by going through the students – ie Peter, Ms M will work with you on …. or Julie, Ms M will walk you to the ….

    I have been bullied many times over the years. But I have worked in many many more jobs and roles where I have not been bullied. I know what it looks like, sounds like, feels like. This is cutting edge passive / aggressive behaviour, I am shunned ! and relegated to the most menial jobs. I am not addressed directly and only indirectly through a 3rd person.

    My teacher is a trainer in the Rock and Water anti bullying program that we have implemented at our school. This afternoon, she is running a training session on it with other teachers. She cannot possibly be unaware that her behaviour is unacceptable in the workplace, but she seems to feel perfectly justified in continuing the silent bullying regardless.

    Her hands are a little bit tied because it is only a few weeks since she gave me a glowing and positive report for the year to date. So she cannot turn around now and take grievances to the admin staff.

    I will not approach her or speak with her on it. It is a fight I will not win and will only make my situation worse. I have 8 more weeks and then next year I will be allocated to a new class with a different teacher and different team.

    I am maintaining my normal demeanour, remaining polite and professional, following instructions to the letter and just doing my best to ignore the rest.

    I know the other staff can see it happening. I also know that while she is maintaining her friendly relationship with them, they cannot acknowledge what is happening to me, but I know that they see it.

    I have always wanted to be that little bit stronger – to be able to stand up to this type of behaviour. I am so frustrated, because i know that I HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG – and I did my best to not lay any responsibility for the situation on my teacher. I followed department guidlines in reporting.

    But I have been so frustrated. I wake up wishing I didnt have to go, wanting to avoid being in the same space, wanting to say something, being scared of saying something. It sucks.

    But I also believe in Karma – what goes around / comes around. I just hope when it does come around, that she, and all the bullies that came before her, have the conscience and emotional IQ, to recall my name, my face and my fate at their hands, when that time comes.

    Good luck to you all. Hang in there. You know it’s wrong, so hopefully we all play our parts in making sure it doesnt happen to others in our future.

  17. Louise says:

    I have worked with a group for the past 10 years. Within the first year I realized my political views and work ethic were very different from those who had worked in this office for years. Also when we ate lunch together that first year, I soon realized they talked about anyone in the office who wasn’t there. These were people I have learned in life that I did not like being around or want to be associated with. So I started focusing on my work and not hanging around them. I did exactly what this article suggested. I sought out others in the organization that had the same kindred spirit and passion for the work as I had. I have been much happier in doing that and have become successful in my job, being recognized by my organization several times. These people in my office do ignore me now, which does hurt at times. And it does make it difficult to go to work some days. But then I remember and still see the reasons why I chose not to associate with them and know I made the right decision for myself. When I focus on that I am much happier and feel OK that I don’t have to like everyone and they don’t have to like me.

  18. Jan Stevens says:

    The M.D. is my problem! Ignores me and greets others with alacrity. Tried making conversation but he ‘cringes’ & remains silent. He deleted old files/folders – I enquired where to locate them – he screamed at me saying ‘they’re not lost’! Emailed him asking for urgent ‘lost’ file (to do my job) – no reply. He’s sending contemporary on course covering something I deal with. This is just a snippet of the bullying which has been gOing on for years & years. I feel so poorly – useless, exhausted, inefficient, sad, negative, demoralised, childish, fat (only size 12!), & a waste of space! All I do – at home, with friends ( when talking work) is fret over how he treats me and the frustration & hurt I feel. Another sleepless night so unburdening my feelings on to this site. Thank you J

  19. Donna says:

    I was told a month ago my job was being disestablished, I was shocked as I never saw it coming, I am still here but since that 1st meeting a month ago I am ignored, I have been isolated and given no work on a daily basis, Im hanging in till they actually say times up for financial reasons, its a long 8 hours when the team that you have worked for cant even say good morning, I feel isolated and ignored and its causing extreme sadness and Im losing the will to live,

  20. Crystal says:

    I have been working in the same place for 8 years, I’ve gone through 3 bosses here and to date am the longest standing employee for our department. 6 months ago, a woman was hired pretty much on the sly…my own new boss didn’t even now it till it was said and done. The new boss knows she’s got to stay in good with the new hire because of political reasons. (After all, this new woman was “placed” here and can surely be “placed” in another position, so I’m sure she feels threatened.) But ever since the day she walked in the door, my job has not been the same. Everyday they whisper and keep things from me. I used to be a part of a lot of things in the work place, that now and without being told it was going to happen, I am not. We don’t hold daily morning meetings anymore…and because I take my daughter to school in the morning, I can’t be at work any earlier than about 6 to 7 mins before clock in, however they are already here and have discussed what they want to, so not only do we not “need” a morning meeting, but I have been left in the dark again, and that’s what they want. When they are in a goup talking random work or basic life topics, the new girl simply walks out and the others will become disinterested if I speak. So there is ZERO social love.
    The whispering is CONSTANT! I can’t say enough how much this gets to me. I try not to and even put head phones in to block it out, but unfortunately I can’t wear head phones all day. 🙁 I used to love my job so much. I am vested in retirement and have a future here, though almost daily now I want to leave. Then the greater part of me says,”Hold out! You know they won’t last” But it’s soooooo hard! My boss says everything is fine and I’m good at my job, but it all seems so fake… not to mention that we have about 6 other bosses ahead of her 🙁 The truth is you never know when the snake will bite around here. It’s heartbreaking and I am close to the edge of breaking down.

  21. Bob says:

    I’ve been at my current job for about 9 months. I try to engage people in conversation but nobody has any interest. I am disabled, but keep my health matters to myself. People avoid me, look at me funny, look at me like I am crazy when I try to speak, and it’s starting to really get to me. Really thought this job would be a good idea, but it has backfired big time. People who call in all the time get treated better than those that show up every day like me. At 35, it feels a lot like high school drama.

  22. ANNETTE says:

    The first time I was treated like dirt at a job was by my boss’s daughters. This was my first job straight out of school and over the twenty plus years I spent at this job I accomplished a lot. Unfortunately I had to deal with both my boss’s daughters when they were older and were hired to work at the club, making my life a misery. They were both fond of stirring it up with coworkers and club members. They became friends with many of our members and a few of the people we worked with. They had to resort to lying about me but it got the job done, I was left out of many events and ignored. Eventually I felt sick to my stomach every day I had to walk into work. Eventually I moved to our head office and only saw them occasionally but the damage was done. My boss moved to another country but we still worked together for another ten years or so.

    By the time I was doing graphics work on my own, I also had a part time job working for a mother daughter team. Unfortunately they didn’t get along and brought me into their fights. Every day I had to walk a tightrope because each woman complained about the other and wanted my opinion and take their side. Every day was chaos in their lives and if something went wrong at work I was blamed. I started making detailed notes so when something went wrong I could prove that it wasn’t my fault. Somehow both women were able to ignore this and leave me with the blame. After three years I was fired for something I didn’t do. I loved this job and was very upset about being fired for not finding a parcel for a customer that he picked up the day before when I was off. I had to go to the Labor Board to get money owing to me, which is when I decided to find out why I allowed these women to bully me for so long. In the end I wrote a book about my experience.

    While I was writing the book I had a part time job repairing watches. The woman who hired me and I got along famously. Then the company decided to promote her and I got a new boss. She treated me like crap from day one. Asking me to come in on my day off with short notice, watching me like a hawk, finding fault in every move I made, not leaving me alone for a second when this was a one person shop. Making me ‘practice’ what I had been doing for months, asking me to come in on my day off to practice on old watches. I did all of it without complaint. One day I came into work to find she had rearranged the entire store and I couldn’t find tools and items I needed for days. After that I came in one day and she made sure I didn’t do any work, other than dusting and cleaning. She didn’t let me deal with customers at all. This was a one person job, my first boss and I only spent about half an hour together each day, the new boss stated to hang around my entire shift not letting me deal with customers. On my last day, a Saturday she interrupted a customer who knew me to answer a question directed at me. After he left I decided to ask her what was going on, with intention of my quitting. I then saw my former boss arrive, she barely glanced at me, the two women whispered together and I knew I’d be fired. I was asked to come into a storage room and my new boss handed me a letter that basically said the store was making changes. I didn’t let her finish her spiel about how great an employee I had been, etc., left the room, grabbed my purse and went home. I contacted head office weeks later and was finally paid what was owing to me months later.

    Eventually I had a job interview at the same mall with a woman I could tell hated me on sight. I went through the interview anyway but knew it was a waste of time. I kept an eye on the store after that and found that none of their employees lasted more than a few weeks. They constantly had ads up for this position. I went for another job interview with this company when I noticed that there was now a man in charge and no sign of the nasty woman. He hired me on the spot and was awesome to work with the two weeks he trained me. Then one day the woman who didn’t hire me came back to work. We ran into each other at shift change and her face said it all. I told a friend that she would make sure I would be fired. A month later that is exactly what happened. This was also a one person position so we didn’t work together just saw each other at shift change but she couldn’t stand the thought of me working there. Unfortunately for her I am in that mall several times a week and run into her getting coffee, at the bank, walking down the hall, buying food, me coming in the door while she’s on her way out the door. She looks pretty uncomfortable each time our eyes meet. A couple of days after I was fired I left a letter for this woman, basically telling her what I thought of her, which is something I recommend doing. People who mess with your livelihood for whatever reasons should be called on it. Never saw the man who hired me again, although he was a partner in the company and was the one to fire me. He told me the that I had been a great employee, always on time, had no problem staying late, people liked me, etc. but they had ‘heard some things’ which he wouldn’t elaborate on, even head office wouldn’t let me know what had gone wrong, they couldn’t of cours – the fact that a co worker wanted me gone. I told both of them what I thought the reason was.

    Finding work is hard enough these days, having to deal with all this extra stuff just makes life a lot harder.

  23. G says:

    I have just 2 months in my job. I was hired in a very caothic time for the organization and my boss keeps blaming me for every mistake since I’ve got in. She is not the best leading and giving clear orders and activities. She gave me “feedback” totally unprofessional, destructive, not recognicing a single thing I’ve done right, trying to make me accept the guilt for everything. When I told her I needed more direction she told me that with my expertise should I know how to do things and that I was adviced that I should learn quickly. I know she tried to fire me, but she couln’t because she doesn’t have any evidence. HR didn’t gave me any solution just advice, how to deal with her (nothing relevant). I know also she gave me that horrible feedback because she wanted me to quit, so I decided to stay, at least until I recieve the final evaluation, because I need my salary. But now she is ignoring me, talking bad about me with others, and not giving me any work, she gives everything to someone junior than me. I feel miserable every day, I’m trying to deal with the situation just trying to survive until I find something else.

  24. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    First of all, you write exceptionally well and seem like a very good person who is trying their best. Your sharing reminds me that no matter “how good” or “how effective” we are or try to be, this does not change the dynamic with the bully. The bully wants control and some will break major moral rules – even manipulating one’s work so they appear less effective. A higher authority is the only way in which this behaviour can change. And most higher authorities do not know what to do. So we need to look for their “interest” of the situation, their “acknowledgement” of the situation (or are they seeking to minimize, dismiss, and even ignore the situation because they are either tired, do not know what to do or do not want to put forward the effort?) and are the committed to “solving” the situation (even if they do not know what to do). You seem like you have a very good handle on this situation. I am also compassionate toward your sharing of “beautiful woman must have it all” – you are right, that is not the case and yet being beautiful can promote envy in women and that is not the beautiful woman’s fault in any way. May you be protected as you continue to serve. Thank you for taking the time to reach out.

  25. Karalea says:

    Good article. I work as a contract nurse so this happens to me often. I am competent at what I do. I am friendly and I pretty much like everyone until I am given a reason by the person not to. I am outgoing and being around others, whether it is my patients or co-workers makes me happy. I probably seem too happy or friendly. I don’t know. I am tired of analyzing it because I have been a target for this more often than I care to admit. I am an attractive woman and I know that because I have frequently received compliments from women about my appearance. I don’t care much about this anymore because honestly being attractive has not served any real purpose for me except to cause me to end up in painful relationships and to receive jealous judgments from other women that seem to think that I “have had it all” in my life. They could not possibly know how much I have struggled and how little I have had both monetarily and emotionally in the way of love from any man, woman, friends, father. Things with mom are a work in progress. I am estranged from my sisters who are also both nurses. I do have a sweet, loving jewel of a daughter, which I believe was the reason God put me here. Other than my daughter, I have never really known true love from a man. Other women see a woman that is attractive and just assume that that the woman has has had it all in life. They make judgments and are determined to try to make your work life a living hell since you have been so lucky to “have it all”. I was emotionally abused as a child by my father. This left me with profound feelings of insecurity which has taken a lifetime to heal from. Honestly, I am coming to the realization that one never really heals from this, however, I live with lots of hope and I try not to dwell on this despite the fact that the aftermath continues to slap me on the ass on an almost regular basis. I appear self confident because of my outward physical and emotional appearance of being happy which only exists because I am happy when I go to work to have a purpose that is more important than myself and a meaning that has the possibility of affecting the lives of others in a positive way. I cannot deny that I am good at what I do. No one would ever know the hell I have been through in my life. Because I was bullied as a kid by my peers and my father, I used to think that there was just something weird about me. If you catch me on an off day, I will admit that those old feelings come rushing back. That is when I take the time to research my problem and I find articles such as yours that put me back into perspective. I am now dealing with another person that is ignoring me and it is so obvious that she is intentionally keeping me from ,learning the things that I need to know in order to become knowledgeable and successful in my new contract which I have been at now for about a month. She actually thanks me for my help when I leave which many would consider to be a nice thing to do, however, I know, unfortunately, from brutal experience that this is just one tactic that she us using to make me feel as though I am not really part of the team. She wants me to believe that I am just a welcome stand-in for desperate times only. This woman, you can tell, is someone that has made her job her whole life. Despite the fact that she complains about how hard she works and sends the message that she is overworked, she, I believe, is threatened by new people that enter her domain. I think she enjoys playing the role of martyr and is likely the reason that the facility is so short staffed. Because she has shown such dedication over the years, I think management really has very little understanding that she is likely the problem instead of the solution. She, with all her dedication and years of seniority has created quite a nice little niche of security and comfort for herself, which I believe she will do everything in her power to protect. She will not allow anyone to become as valued to the facility as she currently believes that she is. It is so crazy, because I feel, from my experience that she is their greatest liability and is the reason why traveling nurses are necessary for them to begin with. I already anticipate being called into the office of various managers to address complaints and problems that no doubt are the result of her sabotaging me. Tonight, in fact, I believe that she removed Insulin and other supplies from one of my patients to make me appear to be unorganized and scattered. I remember filling these supplies. She was the only other person that had access to these supplies.. I totally agree with you that the problem is the bully. No doubt about that, however, these type of bullies have gained the trust and faith of their co-workers through many years of experience, which, often, especially with women amounts to deep friendships and understandings about the person that has nothing to do with the job itself; eg: she had some very difficult times in her life that she has shared with her co-workers.. Her fiance left her years ago and she has been alone since. The only thing that she has is her work. Tight relationships form at work and often co-workers, knowing all the dynamics of a co-worker will, no matter what, stand up for the bully because so much history is shared. There are so many issues and dynamics related to these type of situations that I feel that there is only one way to deal with such issues. That is to nip it in the bud by addressing behaviors head on with human resources or management. I think that as soon as a bullied employee senses that something is off, clear documentation of the issues needs to happen and intervention needs to take place at that time. I believe that this is what is good for the organization and for the bullied employee who needs to be empowered and given the opportunity to do the job they were hired to do. A person should not have to be made to feel as though they need to strategize their way through this mess or have to question their professionalism or abilities to do a job that they know that they are more than competent to do. This is victimization and re-victimization on so many levels. Management and HR needs to do their job and step in as soon as an employee complaint is made or there is even a suspicion of bullying behavior from an employee . Everyone needs to be able to make a living in a work environment. After-all most of us work so we can feed the faces of our children and ourselves. It is about survival, and, if we are lucky, some degree of job satisfaction..

  26. Linda Mahaney says:

    I have worked my same job for 26 years. We just got a new boss and she is 30 years old. She is always making me feel useless. She storms by me and ignores me but gets along wonderfully with other workers. I am doing my work well and going the extra mile to help others. I feel like I am an evil person and my depression is at an all time high.

  27. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    Oh wow, yes, you’ve called it – they are trying to control you in order to get what they want – for you to listen and participate in their gossip. My best advice is to fully recognize this for what it is – controlling behaviour – and that you also have the right to decide what you want to do. When people pull back like you have done without explanation (not that you owe one), others tend to wonder why and then try to make up their reason why as they do not have any reason that makes sense to them. Why wouldn’t you want to hang out with them and gossip – it’s such good bonding! And the invited you in and now you have chosen to leave. They (may) see this as rejection and their gossip is self preservation. You (could) consider telling them one on one if if it feels better or both together why you left – you don’t have to criticize them for their gossip, you could share that you are trying to relax at breaks and talking about work is a little heavy for you – and that you appreciated them inviting you for lunch. That could help to narrow the gap of their possible feelings of rejection. You do not have to feel like you owe them a massive explanation, but a short touch base (might) help if you are up for it. Remember, this says a lot more about them than you. All the best in your new job!

  28. Victim.. says:

    Reading this article makes me feel better because there are people like me but i feel much more sad cause there are people like me, suffering..not knowing what to do. I have come to a point where every single minute is a stressful minute, day, week and months and I’ve only been bullied for 2 months.

    It all started when I just entered to a new company, fresh from graduate university 3 months ago. During the first moment i entered the company, everyone was really nice to me especially these 3 female coworkers who would always invite me to lunch together and always talk together. The only thing was, they like to gossip, every chance they could, about everyone. It was pretty exhausting but I had to be connected with them so I just listened along and try to fit in.
    The following month, my other coworker who was the same age as me and we were always hanging out started to joining them and thats when the bully start. I was left out in gossip, lunch, dinner, annual company meeting but one of them told everyone in the office that it’s a shame that I didnt want to join them to eat lunch together (wtf seriously psycho), emailed to everyone except me, company vacation, any question I ask they would tell me to just google?? ,glares, one of the gang scolded me infront of everyone, didnt enter my overtime work until midnight in the server for everyone to see, eventhough i worked 42 hours straight until I was sent to the emergency room because of exhaustion and hallucination,
    and yesterday was the last day of one of my coworker that i wasnt close with and he told me he was a victim of bullying too in the office…thats why he quit…..and he was bullied by other set of coworkers, so now there a two gangs of bullies in my office to make things worse right?..yeah…. bizzare..he told he was left out in lunch, dinner, nobody talked to him, the boss glared at him, nobody wanted to give him any task..just cause he was incompetent and slow abit and he has a hearing difficulty in which he wheres a hearing aid to help him hear but he was eager to learn who unfortunately nobody wanted to teach and got ignored…. i was so dumfounded to hear his story cause he never showed any signs of stress of depression, he always smiled at me and we sometimes jokes around. Turns out i was the only person talking to him in the office and he told me to be carefull and if i just can’t stand it anymore please just quit cause he understand how it feels…he said it was “mentally mental up to the point staring blankly down to ground for the whole day was the only way of coping”..
    now im thinking of quitting cause i am so effected by the bullying that i cant concentrate on my work and my performance is going down, making it another point for them to bully me… help..i should go to a counselling right? cause i cant afford to lose this job…

  29. Isabel says:

    I do feel that they are trying to get rid of me so this new girl, who started in reception 2 months ago gets my job so they can all hang out together. She spends more time in our office then doing her job. Every morning i think – what will i get accused of today. What will go wrong today?

  30. Isabel says:

    I started my recent job 10 months ago and loved it. Two other females started a week after me and I became very good friends with one of them. The other we found to be very lazy and not doing her work but after a few months we all worked well as a team. About 5 months ago a new one started and from day one I felt unsure about her. Within about 3 months I started to notice a change in everyone’s attitude towards me. I also noticed how she didn’t email me things and then Made a point that she had sent it to me 2 weeks prior, why wasn’t it actioned. This has continued and things have now progressed in which I am being excluded from conversations, I get ignored and alienated, consistently blamed for things and when I leave in the afternoon, I have to say goodbye three times before I ever get a reply. If I try to join the conversation, they simply ignore me and keep talking. I’ve started looking for a new job but feel so hopeless that these lazy cows get to stay. What frustrates me more is that they abuse my bosses trust by taking long lunches, starting late on a regular basis and long coffee breaks so in 8 hrs of work they probably work 5 and in the 6 hrs if work I work the full 6, mist days work back bc again they hold back in giving me work until im just about to go home and say they need it done ASAP. They even tell my boss off, which he apologies to them so often. Its a joke

  31. Hurt says:

    Enough!! 6 months ago my team started ignoring me, no hellos, no goodbyes, no nothing.
    The manager was making a comment about lack of desks and I offered to move. At our Christmas party I was ignored by someone I thought of as a good friend. Ruined the night. Now we have a team lunch coming up and even though I’m in the team I’m not invited. Makes you feel like &$#!.

  32. Sean says:

    I have witnessed and experienced bullying/mobbing behaviours in multiple workplace settings. I have watched again and again as the target is vilified through so-called investigative inquiry. The target is dragged through the mud for expediency and the appearance of resolution – to be made the problem.

    I have been told that I invite my own mal-treatment. I have been denied workplace processes available to others to resolve workplace issues.

    The current workplace issues are related to my intelligence, knowledge and, training for the position to which I am qualified. I have been told that I am too intelligent and that I should be doing something else. I have been in staff meetings [Human Service Work] where an individual blurted out that s/he does not want to know anything.

    I have been ridiculed, bullied and otherwise harassed for doing my job and even, for doing it well.

    It always starts the same way – the staff start to swirl, the doors start to shut, the stories spin, supervisors are muzzled, the freeze is on, the glares, the stares, the secretive movements and then the explosion… Another one bites the dust, and another one’s gone, another one bites the dust…

    The latest victim is now at home trying to pickup the pieces of his/her life… Wondering… what the…

    As I conduct another psychosocial assessment and contemplate the idea that work is a prosocial activity I ask myself; Really?

  33. Rosetta says:

    Uh boy. It is the day before a holiday and got left out of lunch by co-workers. I’m pretty solitary at work, but always make an effort to attend group lunches if asked. No doubt it’s a slight. It’s not as though I feel I’m disliked, but not including me must have some payoff or someone would make the effort to extend the invite. I’m old enough to not be devastated by this; but I still wish things were otherwise. Social norms are important; you don’t have to really care when you greet someone and ask how they are and you don’t really have to care if someone comes to lunch you ask them anyway, because it keeps the workplace boat level.

  34. Encelade says:

    I started this new job about 2.5 years ago. At the beginning everybody was friendly except that one girl obviously envious of my level of education and success in my career. But I didn’t care, it was just her so I avoided her, that’s all. Things started to go south when another female coworker tried to hook me up with a male coworker, friend of hers. He was much younger than me, with no education and no career in sight. While some “mature” women enjoy being “sugar mamas”, I am not into that at all. So I politely refused. The girl that was not nice to me since day 1 took advantage of the situation and started telling mean things about me. And since then, most of my coworkers ignore me and are mean to me, so she’s got what she wanted. I am looking for other jobs right now and I hope to leave soon.

  35. Pam says:

    An ex-boss sent out accusations about me to my family, friends, community as well as surrounding communities. Now I am being bullied/ignored by everyone and it does crush your integrity, ego and self esteem. My accuser told me that I would never be able to find a job around here as was going to destroy me. My consulation is that karma will come into play sometime in his life.

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Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to http://www.BullyFreeAtWork.com

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