One of the greatest challenges a target faces is recognizing a workplace bully. Many of us find it easier to excuse the bully (“He’s having a bad day”) or blame ourselves (“I made a mistake again!”) than to accept that we could be a bully’s target. But until you accept that the workplace bully intends to make your life miserable, you’re powerless to stop him or her.
Some people tell us “A bully has all the power”. It would be more accurate to say “A bully has more power when the target is in denial”.
Below are some warning signs that might reveal to you “I‘m being bullied”:
- You are continually criticized and made to feel “wrong”. Even when you believe you have a good idea, a proper solution to a problem, a suggestion or comment, it is not met with curiosity or interest. Rather, it is met with dismissal, put-downs or a total lack of acknowledgment.
- You are undermined or even shouted out, particularly when others are around to witness, or you are put down verbally to others behind your back by the bully.
- You are treated differently than others. For example, other employees hand in work late or miss deadlines, but when you do that, you’re called on the carpet. In fact, even when you are on time, you are still criticized for something and not acknowledged for anything you’ve done well.
- Offensive language is directed at you.
- When you need information, it is denied to you, although others have access to it.
- The bully sets goals you can’t possibly meet – or changes them, or wants the work accomplished sooner than originally communicated. All of these are ways of keeping you off balance. When you try keeping up, you find it impossible to meet the changing time-lines, and you are left feeling like it was your fault to start with.
- You’re expected to do more work and work more hours than others, usually without extra compensation. It’s understood – tacitly or overtly – that you face dismissal if you don’t comply.
- You don’t receive credit for your work; in fact, your work may be represented as having been accomplished by someone else, most often the bully.
- You’re the target of sexually demeaning comments.
- You don’t have a clear job description that covers what to do and when to do it. When you ask for clarity, you are told ‘duties as assigned’ is part of your job. Job descriptions set out your responsibilities. Without one, a bully can “pile on” the tasks.
Recognizing a workplace bully and understanding their behavior as real and destructive to you is like putting on a pair of eyeglasses to correct your vision. Suddenly the whole world looks different. You can see clearly and can make decisions based on facts, not excuses. Now that’s the first step to claiming back your power!
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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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