How to Spot a Workplace Bully

In this highly optimistic, peace-seeking universe of ours, most of us aspire to a job that is (1) ego-boosting, (2) cash-giving and (3) somewhat enjoyable. After all, employed humans spend most of their waking hours working and will do so for the majority of their adult lives.

However, this life-long journey can become an even more pronounced, tortuous affair if you’re confronting a bullying twat every day who is turning your week days into sheer, stomach turning hell.

So how do you recognise these gutless assholes?

Bullies gossip

Ever had that prickly skin feeling that someone’s been shit bagging you? A lot? Then it’s time you effed the Nancy-No-Friends tag off (that’s primary school melodrama) and toughened up.

You’re awesome and you need to know it. These types get off on power trips and stroking their own pitiful egos.

Bullies torment

There are innumerable ways bullies can achieve this. They can harass you, bitch about you, not invite you to lunch, ‘lose’ your emails, gaffer tape your drawers shut, load animal porn onto your computer screen.

The list is hideously endless, and sadly, these losers get a sick rush from your negative responses.

Bullies humiliate

These obnoxious (and often loud) cretins love to mercilessly berate people in front of others.

And ironically, most of the office sheep tittering behind their workstations won’t actually side with them, they’re just afraid of being bullied themselves.

“Just teasing”. Bullshit. These types thrive on inciting fear.

Bullies pull rank

Well, they try to.  If they’re threatened, they’ll attack. Ever confidently answered an email and then received a barrage of hateful, quick-fired responses with every man and his dog cc’d in?

That’s a bully blatantly sticking it to you. Been summoned to a “Have you got a minute?” meeting with your superior only to find out there’s been a complaint made against you? Red flag! The bully’s bored again.

Bullies can be super-clever

Attention seeking bullies are often overly dramatic and initially wear the cloak of a kind and helpful bestie. However, cross them and they’ll screw you.

They particularly love newbies and are experts at coaxing out personal info, only to use it against you later.

‘Gatekeeping’ bullies are far more subtle – annoy them and they’ll deny you the things you need to do your job efficiently – be it time, information or resources.

Bullies are two-faced

Ever had a colleague act like a trusted confidante and then stab you in the back (often at your lowest point) at the first opportunity? They’re on the Bully Train.

There’s worse – Bully Train Drivers are known as ‘sociopaths’.  Charming and charismatic, they’re the most destructive type of all because they have zero empathy, are master manipulators and often rise to positions of power in an organisation.

If this all sounds a little sad sack, sorry – I didn’t mean to burst your rainbow-hued career bubble. And I must stress that this list is by no means exhaustive or scientifically based. It is however, based on some of my own workplace experiences.

But let’s not get morose, there are things you can do. Ignore these self esteem sappers, surround yourself with positive people and if all else fails, go to your HR team. Their job is to keep you happy in your job.

The scoop? Bullying has no place in any workplace, or anywhere really. And it can be deemed a criminal offence. Just ask the big wheels at the Australian Human Rights Commission.