Remember the days you couldn’t walk about freely without getting ridiculed. Yes those painful days you were laughed at because of your looks, your hair colour, the way you talked and walked. How you hated the thought of going to school or being around your peers. Fast forward, 20 years latter just when you boosted your confidence and can now don whichever fashion you like, wear whichever makeup, you realise you are about to go through the same experience again. You are now having to tip toe walking past work stations or cubicles to avoid being spotted by a new breed of bullies. You might have escaped the bullies back in those days but they have now re-emerged in a different setting, the place you like and spend more hours away from home, that place where you get your income from.
Some work places are now infested with a crop of women victimising women, men victimising women and vice versa. We have these cowardly men and women (these mind-controlling abusers, manic-depressive and psychotic type) whom you think graduated from their high school bullying mentality and tendencies. But no, they find it irresistible to suffocate you of your breathing and working space- getting some pleasure out of it. These mindless people can leave you feeling guilt, incompetent, worthless, and hopeless. Then there is you thinking, what an idiot I have become. Absolutely ridiculous – because you are far from it.
Just as well my friend Tracy tells me she has a new job as an IT manager for a top hotel chain. Well done you, dreams come true my girl, congratulations are in order, l would say. “ I wish l could be happy you know, getting the stick and , taking cover to sob in a toilet isn’t really lucky or is it?”. I find my boss difficult to work with, ever shouting, rude and giving me tasks that have got nothing to do with my job. I never signed up to making anyone tea”. Tea!!!, you said. “If l make a mistake l get shouted in front of colleagues, l am looked down at and made to feel my contributions aren’t worth it. In his words,” l am incompetent and just got lucky to get the job because of looks”. What!!!, you can’t be serious, this is utter rubbish and disgusting behaviour, l weigh in.
Bullishness by anyone, whether you are female, male, the boss, supervisor or subordinate is just off and should be called for what it is. Workplace bullies are the worst because they can be subtle in their ways making it difficult for you to notice. The loud mouth, egoistic bullies, yes those are easier to identify as they are eager to quench their machoistic tendencies more openly. They like to be noticed, seen and afforded some form of misplaced ‘respect’. The subtle bullies are difficult to identify as they are more ‘careful’ in their ways.
Bullying as an untoward behaviour should be spotted early on and fixed whilst in bud. Left to develop, work place bullying can have tremendous effect to your work and social life.
Familiarise yourself with a list of bullish behavior that should trigger your attention;
Whether you upset anyone or you are in the wrong, the language at work takes a different shape from pub talk. The tone and nature of words should always fall within the acceptable work environment. You are not anyone’s object, child, friend or relative. You are here to work so if anyone opens their mouth to trash you, they would have crossed the line.
Mind you most bullies use verbal attack to “weaken” their victims. If you give in and chose to be compliant, the insults and abuse will rain on you fast. You will constantly be put down, whether you are getting about your work, getting a sandwhich or just trying to make a contribution.
We all have shortcomings, but if someone is constantly nitpicking and isolating every little mistake you make, they are no longer after improving you but destroying your confidence. They might not use direct verbal acerbic language, but can even use sarcasm and small verbal stings.
You are never credited for your effort.
You can be the most competent and hardworking person but you still get criticised constantly without a break. It doesn’t matter how hard working you are, your ideas or innovativeness. Instead of getting the due credit, they will claim your achievements. One cant help but relate to the incredible story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, brilliant African-American women working at NASA but whose contribution were never recognised.
If anything, you get blamed for lack of progress or any problems that may emanate at work whilst they ride on your success boasting that the outcomes are a result of their hardworking, dedication and skills. Your commitment and contributions are questioned.
You never get the promotion
You can’t get the promotion you deserve because someone is always blocking you. You have so many years of experience (check), highly organised (check), creative (check), but each time an opportunity to climb up comes, someone somewhere always block you. They rather have an imbecile than let you climb up.
Bullies rely on your perceived weakness. Its about balance of power. Any chance that gets you on top or promoted is likely to shift power in your favour and that is a risk bullies aren’t prepared to take. So they block you to stop you from succeeding because they will lose control over you.
You are set to fail
You are given a lot more work with impossible deadlines because you are being set to fail. Its funny how each time you demonstrate ability to deliver you are overloaded with a lot more work. “Ooh, you are one of the hardworking ones here, do you mind taking over more of this load. And by the way, I need this done ASAP as I am going to report on progress to the board”. “Aaaah, you would say”, “What?, you want to be insubordinate, you know the consequences, get on the work and report soonest before I change my mind”. For one, you cant even negotiate on the load or better still the close deadline. Whichever way you go, you are bound to fail. They are just itching to make you fail.
Being shouted at or being humiliated
Oh this lot like shouting alright. You get shouted military style. All they are after is to humiliate you in front of other employees. Imagine walking down the corridor or a sitting a distant away when you get yelled at over a mistake, or error. They constantly ridicule you or pass unpleasant ‘jokes’ making others laugh at your expense. The constant humiliation from shouting, criticism for the sake of embarrassing you is just a red flag that you are under someone’s vice. They are on your neck.
Your supervisor or manager is ever on your case every step of the way. Without a doubt you are perceived as unreliable. This eats into your own confidence and contributions to the team. In all situations you are never given enough training, further information, guidance, mentoring or encouragement.
Did you know? If there is anything to take away from a bullying experience, it is that they find you smarter, more competent and even better poised so in some way they are more challenged by you. If you choose to be the non-talking type, the miss nice type, your bully will PARTY with you, humiliating you daily, you get harassed relentlessly, they will take credit for your work, and blame you for their failures and mistakes. You are not about to break, get depressed and hate going to work because of some bullies. In our next edition we look at how to deal with bullies and make them crawl back into the rock they came from. Don’t let bullies jeopardize your health, your career, and the job you once loved
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