4 Signs You Work With An Office Bully
I am a parent to a gifted child and it wasn’t until a few years ago, that I fully understood how much he’d been bullied through his elementary school life. He moved to a different school this year and I’d hoped that a new environment would expose him to more kids and yield different results but unfortunately, this has not been the case. And sadly enough, through my research, I’ve found that it’s actually quite common that gifted children are at a higher risk of being bullied. In fact, in one of the first major studies on bullying and gifted students, researchers at Purdue University found that by eighth grade, more than two-thirds of gifted students had been victims of bullying.
It appears that gifted students are bullied because of their exceptional school performance. Other students are either jealous of their abilities and their grades or they see them as a threat in some way. Additionally, their academic abilities make them stand out from their peers. And in some cases, other students see them as the “teacher’s pet” or a “know it all.”
As a parent, I continue to encourage him, get him involved with local clubs and sports, broaden his network of friends and work on his confidence. I advise him not to worry about bullies, that someday those mindless jerks will be begging him for a job. Maybe as they mature, they will outgrow the need to make others feel small. But is that the case in today’s workplace? Even with the increase in media coverage of school bullying and ways to prevent it, the message does not seem to translate well to “adults”.
Shockingly, office bullying remains an issue in most workplaces. Are these the same bullies from the playground? Possibly, but they might not be as easy to spot. If you are unsure, here are 4 signs you work with an office bully:
Two-faced. If you work with someone who speaks positively about coworkers in public but speaks offensively behind their back, then you work with an office bully. They may say the right things when they know management will notice, but aren’t so kind otherwise. You want to avoid this person. Don’t let office gossip get out of hand, and make sure you’re not fueling the fire by participating yourself.
Uber competitive. One thing that drives office bullying in some individuals is competitive pressure. Some people will do anything to win. They would sooner walk all over you to get to the top. Focus on yourself and do the best job you can do in the workplace. Don’t be derailed by their competitive nature and don’t try to engage in it.
Uncouth. One of the most common office bully tactics is shown through a purposeful lack of courteous behavior toward coworkers, or certain people in particular. Don’t be afraid to call out an office bully who repeatedly interrupts or talks over a colleague during a meeting. It’s rude.
Self-centered. Office bullies love to take credit for an idea that was not theirs. Not cool. Stay in touch with your team members and projects as they develop so you know where credit is due, and don’t let one self-centered worker ruin things for everyone else.
The bottom line is that both the playground and the office can have bullies. Why bullies feel they have the right to make others miserable, I’ll never know. They are cowards, possibly driven by insecurities and fears of inadequacy. Intentionally waging a covert war against an organization’s best employees or a school’s best students – bullies are hurting more than just their targets. The victims of bullying are the highly skilled, intelligent, creative, ethical, teammates that are vital to the success of a business. Identifying a bully, “standing up” to them and helping to put a stop to their behavior is not only a critical issue in our schools, but can also dramatically improve the quality of life – and the performance – of today’s workplace.