There's been an increased focus on bullies and their impact on other kids, and for good reason. Bullies use intimidation and control as a way to reduce the manifestation of their own insecurities, and it can make a lasting impact on the victim. What we often don't consider, however, is bullies grow beyond the playground. What happens when bullies aren't stopped during childhood? They grow up to focus their efforts on new peers, and it occurs in the workplace more than many realize.
You're never too old to be bullied. The trouble is, it can be a little more difficult to pinpoint during adulthood. These workplace bullies are ones you're never too old to look out for both for your sake and your coworkers'.
The Critic uses a unique tool that makes their behavior tricky to control. They tend to strike when there's no one else around, thus leaving no witnesses who can vouch for their behaviors. The trouble is it can be easy to confuse their tactics with necessary managerial duties. When in doubt, consider this: is the primary intent of their actions to make others feel small?
There are a few common signs to look out for. For starters, they often like to create problems where none exist. You may notice continual insults and belittling comments, even though they're usually subtle. The establishment of unrealistic workloads and deadlines and the constant need to create confusion are other key characteristics of a Critic. If you're ready to put a stop to a Critic in your office, keep in mind this requires careful planning. Remember, there are no direct witnesses in many cases. Make sure you're prepared to defend your case with real evidence to back you up.
Keep reading to uncover the next workplace bully to watch out for.
The Two-Faced One
We've all met The Two-Faced One. They lurk in breakrooms and cubicles across the country, and they hide their true intentions behind a deceptive and inviting smile, which is precisely what makes them so dangerous. Their secret weapon is to lure you in, make you feel comfortable, and then strike the minute you let your guard down.
How do they do it? Some simply wait to receive a juicy tidbit of gossip to share with other coworkers that was provided in confidence. These coworkers often don't premeditate their deeds, but their indiscretions make them impossible to trust.
The real two-faced snakes to be aware of are the ones actively seeking to sabotage others. Just some of the motivators for their actions include destroying your reputation to get ahead in the company, taking credit for your hard work to cover up their laziness, and taking things out of context to take attention off their own problems. The two-faced colleague is a wolf in sheep's clothing, so beware. They'll pretend to be your friend, but once they've gotten in, they can cause severe damage to your career and reputation.
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The Attention Seeker
It can be easy to overlook the tactics of The Attention Seeker as ones that are, frankly, kind of sad and pathetic. While there is an element of truth to this conclusion, it's important to read between the lines and understand how this behavior can negatively impact your career.
The Attention Seeker is easy to spot because they make it a point to be noticed as they consistently make efforts to get the spotlight pointed in their direction. You'll also see their continual efforts to get on the boss' good side with constant compliments and unnecessary flattery. They often portray themselves as being very helpful to other employees, especially those who are new on board. This all seems pretty positive. The trouble lies in the fact that, when you don't offer The Attention Seeker the attention they crave, you'll often notice a quick and sometimes dangerous turn. It may be as subtle as one-upping your account of a recent accomplishment or as serious as using confidential information against you.
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The Gatekeeper Or Power Tripper
The Gatekeeper or Power Tripper often holds a position of authority in the workplace, because they make quick efforts to establish power and control over others. A common way they do this is to control access to the tools you and your coworkers need to succeed. They aren't focused on the success of the team. Rather, they use their control to keep everyone else in captivity.
While they do sometimes deliberately set traps to cause others to fail, they often use other, less recognizable tactics. For example, they are known to refuse simple requests, employ the silent treatment, and withhold vital information when it's needed the most. Remembers there are many ways in which The Gatekeeper or Power Tripper maintains their control. Just some resources they may keep from you include training, budgets, approvals, tools, and access to human resources. Since they are often in a position of power, it's important to carefully document their behaviors before blowing the whistle.
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Personality disorders come in many forms, and they can be easy to slip through the hiring process. This is because The Sociopath can make themselves appear charming and helpful. This behavior is typically most evident in situations where it will be to their benefit. The Sociopath is often selective in their targeting, which can make it very difficult to convince others a problem exists when they choose to direct their malicious efforts your way. In fact, depending on the scope of their influence, you may even be looked down upon for bringing up your concerns.
Remember, this type of office bully has nothing to lose. In fact, they can even expand their influence in their tactical implementation of vicious behavior. If you're ready to take one down, make sure you have proof to back up your claims. It's especially helpful if you have at least one witness who shares your concerns.
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Thereâs nothing wrong with a little humor in the workplace. In fact, jokes and humor can be absolutely essential to getting through the day. Many of our jobs are stressful, with tight deadlines and demanding customers. Making jokes can keep everyone loose and happy. But sometimes, the jokes go too far. Thatâs the case with the Prankster type of bully. Itâs always a little bit risky to make a joke at someoneâs expense. If the individual is able to take the joke, great. But many times, a joke with someone else as the butt of it can be mean spirited and unappreciated.
One of the classic Prankster examples is when a prankster keeps targeting the same individual over and over. Even if the first prank was funny, having to deal with repeated shenanigans can quickly become tiresome. However, the Pranksters donât have to target the same person for the behavior to be bad. Some workplaces collectively live in terror of being pranked. The bottom line is while humor is wonderful, itâs important to stay on the right side of the line.
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Itâs natural to form friendships in the workplace. And further, itâs natural for certain individuals to be drawn to each other more than others. Certain people are in similar phases of their lives, or may share interests. Cliques, though, go beyond simple friendships. When a clique forms, a group of employees freezes out or ostracizes a single person or smaller group. This can take many forms. Maybe only one employee doesnât get invited to a group lunch. Maybe they create elaborate in-jokes they very publicly flaunt in the faces of those not in on it. In the end, they create an environment where certain employees feel excluded, left out, disliked and unwanted. This can often create an awful working environment and depress workplace morale. And it can even spill over more directly into a lack of productivity, with members of the clique not working well with those theyâre ostracizing.
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Another type of workplace bully is the Saboteur. This type of bully is especially bad news because theyâre often actively undermining your ability to do your job.
Saboteurs have different motivations. Some try to undermine another employee because they feel a sense of competition, whether for a possible promotion or for favor in a managerâs eyes. Others allow personal grievances or dislike of another to cause them to act unprofessionally. Regardless of the motivation, the Saboteur will find subtle and not-so-subtle ways to hinder the performance of your job. Often times, the Saboteur will hide behind plausible deniability. âOops, I forgot to copy you on that email about the revised deadlineâ. âSorry, I thought I mentioned we were going to be having a meeting today.â âAh, looks like I mistyped the price in the order I sent to you, sorry!â While anyone can make a mistake, the Saboteurâs actions take on a deliberate pattern over time. The insidious thing about the Saboteur is this kind of backstabbing can sometimes be hidden beneath a smiling face. Many Saboteurs never show any outward dislike for their targets. But theyâre working on a consistent basis to make doing their job a nightmare.
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At any workplace, people are going to talk about others; Thereâs no getting around it. Weâre all human, and we have a natural curiosity about those around us. A workplace rife with gossip goes beyond that natural discussion of co-workers. When gossip gets out of hand, individuals are spreading malicious rumors about others or focusing on the negative aspects of others, and this has an extremely unpleasant effect on workplace culture.
One of the biggest effects of a gossipy workplace is no one trusts anyone else. If they know from experience that any little negative thing is going to make the workplace rounds, thereâs every incentive to keep it all hidden. This kind of workplace tends to be unproductive, as collaboration and teamwork drop significantly. Gossips can focus on work-related drama or interpersonal and out-of-workplace subjects. The end result is the same. Over time, a workplace filled with gossiping will see its workplace morale plunge, productivity suffer and employee relations decline.