No matter what organisation you walk into, chances are you will come across the office bully. Some of these people openly display bullying tendencies and use their position of power to intimidate, belittle and squash their victim. Others however are subtle and have learnt how to fly under the radar. This second group does more damage and often get away with their actions. Why… because they don’t do anything that could be construed by observers as inappropriate. Some of the ways include comments thinly veiled with sarcasm, constantly highlighting mistakes when others are present, snarky statements followed with laughter and “I’m only joking”.
But when you are on the receiving end, what do you do? Telling the manager does not solve the problem because individually the comments are innocent and harmless. Reporting them to a manager results in the victim looking weak and pathetic, which incidentally is the exact effect the bully was hoping for. Leaving the organisation or moving to another department is a possibility but as mentioned earlier, bullies can be found everywhere. Tackle them head on? This would be ideal but bullies do not target strong-willed people. Systematically wearing down someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence is a deliberate process undertaken by a few toxic, nasty individuals.
I would be interested in hearing how people on the receiving end of bullying and intimidation cope. Any hints you would be willing to share?