Workplace bullying: It happens, it sucks, and here's what you can do

Updated Sep 27 2016
Guest post by Christina
Stop bullying image from Etsy seller SVG Originals
Stop bullying image from Etsy seller SVG Originals

Did you know that at any given time, 10% of adult workers are being bullied on the job? Or that around 30% of us will be targets of bullying at some point during our careers?

I was the target of workplace bullying. I had been a great employee; I was even awarded Employee of the Month! After awhile, I became the person who knew the job inside and out, and could do it in my sleep. I was a little bored, but competent and content. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, targets are usually independent, ethical, nurturing, "'go-to' veteran workers to whom new employees turn for guidance." That was me in a nutshell.

In 2003, Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik defined a cycle of Employee Emotional Abuse (aka bullying). Here's how that exact cycle played out in real life…

The 6 stages of workplace bullying

STAGE ONE: Initial incident
This could be anything, including being hired into a new position. The bully may be jealous, feel threatened, feel you wronged them in some way, or be experiencing turmoil in their personal life.

I believe the incident that triggered my bully was when my coworker had a last-minute opportunity to take an international trip the same week I that had taken off for a trip. He asked to switch our time off, and, after I said no, he started treating me differently.

STAGE TWO: Progressive discipline
This is the stage when abuse becomes normalized because the abuser is in a position of power, and technically behaving legally.

In my case, my coworker was eventually promoted to shift lead, and treated me like I was incompetent — overreacting to small mistakes (even those which I quickly and easily fixed without incident). Nothing I did could please him.

STAGE THREE: Turning point
This is where it gets personal. Abuse is repetitive, and events are reframed by the abuser so targets are made to seem like the problem.

When I confronted my coworker about the issues I was having, he made me feel like the bad guy with responses like, "No one else has a problem with me, so it seems like you're the one with a problem." I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I sometimes felt like I was losing my mind.

STAGE FOUR: Organizational ambivalence
The target informs management or Human Recourses, who either steps in and confronts the bully, mediates the situation successfully, or does not help at all.

In my case, it was the latter. I mentioned to the manager that I was having trouble working with a coworker, and they told me that I needed to learn how to work with people. Because most of his infractions were minor, I was accused of overreacting. I started to wonder why should I care about the company when the company doesn't care about me?

STAGE FIVE: Isolation
Feeling alone, like there is no one to turn to. Your family and friends, at this point, may even get sick of it and tell you to stop complaining.

I dreaded going to work on days when I knew that one coworker was there. Some nights, I was so stressed I had trouble sleeping. I hated my job and wanted to quit, but had nothing else lined up. I didn't want to say anything to coworkers, because I didn't want them feel like they had to pick sides. At least I had emotional support of friends and family.

STAGE SIX: Expulsion
The target leaves by transferring, quitting, or being fired.

I was eventually terminated. After the initial shock and sadness wore off, I was absolutely relieved. I don't believe I was let go on rightful terms, but part of me didn't care. I don't know whatever happened to him, as I lost touch with all my former coworkers, so the cycle may have restarted after I left.

So… what do you do if you are being bullied?

Speak up:

Speak to someone above the abuser or someone in HR. Put it on record. A friend in HR told me that her company conducts anti-bullying training during orientation, and that many people do not realize when they turn into "Mean Girls." Employees have complained and she has intervened several times with success.

Get educated:

Have you experienced workplace bullying? Did it seem to follow those stages? Did anything solve the issue?

  1. This hasn't happened to me, but it did to my uncle. He was an oil rig worker at the time, there was no official way to get help, and he ended up leaving the job because he became injured. It was terrible, I remember how ashamed he was; it took him a while to recover emotionally. Thanks for writing this.

    • Recently, I changed jobs because of workplace bullying.
      Last year, I had an accident and was off for two months. During my time off, they had three different people try to fill in one particular job and all three quit or transferred out because the work was simply "too hard". So, when I returned to work, the job I had was filled by another and I was placed in a job no one wanted. I was assured that I would be returned to my old job as soon as they hired a replacement.
      During this time, the workplace bullies showed up. The first guy, on a major day of business, showed up drunk and hungover and could not fulfill his obligations on his position. He just kind of sat down and hung out. His work was substandard, at best.
      I filled in and made the job work , not saying a word. Just doing my job. My boss thanked me for doing a good job.
      After this incident, this person became more and more prideful over simply accomplishing his job. Patting himself on the back, bellowing his "simple" accomplishments, but yet, seemed to be needing assistance and then saying "I knew that".
      The new H/R person became the apple of his eye, greeting her and asking her day was going. This situation greatly disturbed me because behind her back he was saying how "he would get with her". I played it off and told him bluntly that the H/R dock is not one to fish off of.
      We were both nominated for EOQ for the time period. For the most part, I was working incredibly efficiently at my new post, often leaving early by an hour with everything done. We were offered more work for our unit and I chose one thing because my boss had already assigned me 2 other things. So it had three new things to my job and I was still managing my section very thoroughly and efficiently, basically still getting off with an hour left.
      Meanwhile, the bully was not happy. His section was slower and was forced to to take time off along with the others in their section. He spoke to the supervisor about how unfair it was that I had two new things on my job list and he had three things. The supervisor confronted me and dragged me out in public about this. He raised his voice and said "did i think it was fair that I had two items while others had three" I told him he should ask the person who made the task list up. The bullies laughed thinking it was funny.
      A couple of weeks pass and I was assigned a very labor intensive task along with the other tasks I was already doing. ( There went my hour. )
      A couple more weeks pass and suddenly it was my job to make sure that a task anyone could do was now my responsibility to make sure it was done every time. The entire time, the bully (the drunk) was playing passive aggressive with the H/R person complaining about how things could be better if i applied myself. (with what? I have no time)
      Suddenly my job wasn't good enough for the head of my department. Suddenly, I could not do my job and after being out for a year from section, i was supposed to pick up where I left off (after they changed the standard and the items) and do the other job and be evaluated.
      My boss, who doesn't like working his regular days off, (he needs to get over it), suddenly looks at me and says how i can't do my job anymore. (new bully)
      But somehow, someway, I got nominated for EoQ again after all this.
      One week, I thought i had weathered a storm. There was situation, beyond anyone's control, where I had to work and stay local because people could not get to work. My boss changed my day off three times in one week (one day off). I thought I had made the turn and maybe I had weathered the storm.
      Suddenly, my boss begins micro managing me and finally drags me aside and tells me this going to happen and it is not subject to compromise. He tells me what do and if i don't like it "I can quit"… so I did.
      I did something I swear would never do. I walked out of a job. Left 2 weeks of vacation pay on the table, but i kept my sanity, I kept my self worth and i kept my pride.
      Within 48 hours, I found another job with better pay, better benefits and less stress. The bullies? i am sure by now they have figured out what I was doing and now, have to do it.

    • I worked as a data entry person in the customer service department of a small local publishing company for sixteen years. Most of my years working there were good ones, but when another supervisor was brought into our department to reflect certain changes that were happening in the company in general, things began to go downhill, quite rapidly.

      The new supervisor was as tough as nails, ingratiating herself with people by being super-bubbly, friendly and complimentary. In reality, there was another agenda, because what this new supervisor did was to break down people's defenses, affectively get them to confide in whatever had gone on with them in their lives, and then make an about-face and treat them miserably. To make a long story short, three people out of the six people in our department that were left there by the time all this stuff really started going on, ended up filing grievances.

      With the help of my union, I was able to get a good severance package, with some retraining money and a letter of reference (from another supervisor who'd been there longer than the new supervisor who came in.), and severance pay. I used the money to go to Piano tuning school, and some other stuff, so I bought some time and learned a new skill. Another woman in my department left for San Francisco, CA, with her partner. Still another woman who was bi-racial, did an MCAD (Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination) case, which, unfortunately, got denied. She stayed on for afew more years, and then, one evening, shortly before midnight, she called me to say that the whole Customer Service department and Accounts Receivable department, as well, was being laid off. So was the new supervisor.

      I was more than happy to leave a sinking ship, and I still keep in touch with and occasionally see the woman who'd done the MCAD case, and been denied. I was only too glad to leave that workplace. I'd filed a formal complaint, because I had no choice, but I feel that I'm a stronger person (even though it's years later) for having stood up for myself.

    • HR is never, ever your ally in a bullying matter, ESPECIALLY if the bully is a supervisor or manager. It's HR's job to protect management from bullying lawsuits, and the bigger the company, the more powerful HR and their company lawyers will actually coach the bully on how to legally terminate you by due process…write you up for minor infractions, such as, answering the phone in 4 rings instead of 3. Having supervisor speak to other employees about you in a negative way and asking that they help to watch you and let the supervisor know if you do or say anything…supervisors will often give peers the ok to treat the target with disresepct or egg the target on by saying something derogatory about their appearance, work, etc…and when the target speaks out or tries to tell the supervisor, the supervisor marks this as an inability to get along with others (who will back this). HR will say none of this is anything they can do anything about, because its nothing illegal. Its legal for a supervisor and staff to set you up, I had people in the office taking my work off my desk and nobody would know where it went…then the supervisor would ask me where I was at with that one piece of paper. When I admitted it was missing, I was blamed for losing it. Then, the next day, it was sitting on my computer keyboard in the AM. The supervisor said she had no idea how it got there and didnt care. She fired me the next day for an minor error I made. But she had trails of things like this she had schemed out. It was devastating , I had just transferred to this department after 14 years w the company and had no idea anything like this was even possible. I recvd my unemployment. Its been a year and I have put in over 300 applications locally and 100 out of state and have not so much gotten a phone call. I interviewed at a new store opening at petco part time for $8 an hour, thought it went very well, but no call. I was making $21 an hour. Moral of story, one bully can easily and swiftly destroy a 14 year career in less than 5 months. I am living proof.

      • Omg Rebekah,I'm sorry to hear that. I went through similar process, but it was not that fast. I worked for a CA state university. My sup. was projects-obsessed and wanted me to do rigorous projects besides my every day routine work (which was a lot already). When she saw me I couldn't do it she wanted to dump me. In order to fire me she had to write me up, etc. which she did. She wanted me to suffer, she enjoyed it and she was giving me to do projects that she knew it's not possible to do. Basically a set up for a failure in order to fire me. The union guy did not really help me a lot. I was lucky to find another job before she had the chance to fire me. The union guy even told her where I am going to work. Can you believe it?

        Sent from my LG V10, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

      • Hi,
        I have had the same experience in two different places. In both situations, I chose to leave which made issues worse. I am moving into another position and understandably concerned about this happening again. Do I let my new supervisor know what happened? How do I deal with co-workers? I have this attitude of minding my own business and not reading meanings into situations but have found out that in previous instances of workplace bullying, no one said anything to me directly, everything was done with mean spirited comments which could be explained away as part of normal conversation so you are accused of over-reacting/mental instability etc. What was incredible was how they acted like two headed snakes, smiling all the time time yet saying vile things to you. It's always a double bind. If you react it's documented as evidence meanwhile they are free to disrespect you. It's almost like once they (bullies and their cronies) decide that you are too much of a threat to them they spend every waking moment micromanaging and making sure they torment you enough for you to either leave or get fired, all because what they really want is to do a lot of CYA. It's a shame.

      • I'm in the same situation, and facing providing for my children alone while going through a divorce with no support money from soon to be ex. Not only did she wrongfully fire me ending my income, but I lost my health insurance which was part of my job. I have no doubt she enjoyed doing this, just as she enjoyed creating reasons to find fault with me and put me down- so long as she had an audience. She also put other employees down the second they walked out of the room. She is an abusive person and not just at work. Did you ever find new work, and if so, how? If you tell a new possible employer the truth about the bullying boss, the tend to doubt you.

    • I experienced a similar situation to this when working for a regional supermarket chain. I seemed to be singled out and targeted by numerous people who spent more time focusing on my job performance than on their own. They’d always put me down as this “terrible worker” often calling me a “slacker, or goof off” and often making cracks about my weight-appearance within ear shot although not directly to my face. They’d complain about me to managers saying I was “doing a piss poor job.” Oddly, I was never spoken to, disciplined or reprimanded by managers about my job performance. And after nearly a year, I eventually took a different job and left on my own accord. I really had no idea what their problem was with me or why they tried so hard to put me down and see to it I was gotten rid of.

      • I find people in positions of power in general tend to abuse that power. Look at how many students are bullied by teachers and school administrators. I recall many times being told “It’s my word against yours who do you think they are going to believe?” It was never anything sexual or inappropriate on that level, but still having someone single you out and lambaste you in front of an entire class and not really having any recourse is not very much fun. One teacher often felt that certain students were “not living up to their full potential” and instead of speaking to them privately, she’d say things of this nature in front of an entire class. She once chewed someone out because their mother was actively involved in their education to the point of calling up teachers (including her) to complain. She implied and outright stated that this person was a “mommies boy” and that his “mother was not always going to be around to fight his battles for him.”

  2. This is happening to my husband…we are fighting it, but his managers are useless and part of the problem! The only way out is for him to leave. We are just sick of it, it's caused six months of the most horrific depression I've ever seen

    • This happened to me. Every single step. I went as far as the corporate HR office (each division has a middle-man HR department to help with the work load). I was told that the manager was always right regardless of being wrong LOL. How backasswards is that? I ended up having to find a new job and took a pay cut (big big pay cut) just to get out of there.

      I hope your husband gets the help he needs and that his management gets some kind of reprimand. I never got justice. My former boss is still bullying people around. It just makes me sick,

  3. I have watched my husband live through this and I have had a position that was less than stellar. It is key to keep as much paper trail as possible. Record any incident that happens. Take detailed notes. I really feel for anyone experiencing this because so often it is treated as nothing. It sucks to feel like you aren't valued or protected by the people you are supposed to value and protect. The biggest thing is to be honest with yourself about the culture of your workplace. Is this just part of the culture? It was for my husband. It was a toxic work environment and once he realized that and left, he was way healthier and happier. @Jess, I totally hear you on the depression it can cause. My husband was in that situation too. Anxiety and depression.

  4. Sadly, I was also in a similar spot. A coworker was hired because she was liked by one of the higher ups and treated like her daughter. She was a terrible employee that looked to get out of every task given to her despite it being obviously in her job description, pushing blame on everyone else all while being a royal jerk at all times. She was so bad and she knew it, that when I confronted her personally on it, she said "I'm going to make your life miserable".

    Unfortunately since she was treated like a higher up's daughter, there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it. Reporting her to several managers got the tears flowing about "how she doesn't know why no one likes her". Or how she was somehow able to turn her repeated and incredibly loud cussing storms while I was on the phone with clients into my fault.

    After 2 years working there, I got awfully sick due to stress from hating to come in work. After missing 5 weeks worth of work (which I couldn't afford) with a doctor's note, I was called by a supervisor and told that "we have to work something out" to which I was pushed to quit. I still wish I sued that place simply to call her out on her crap and the weird abuse of power that was being thrown around.

  5. I've been going through this for 6 years. Unfortunately jobs are slim in my industry, I can't quit and get a new job. Im actually working on getting my degree so I can make a sideways move to another department away from these people. We had a layoff in 2008, I was kept while another employee was let go. A third woman who is friends with that person felt the company made a bad decision and has been a condescending jerk ever since. She is also H.R. so there is no one to escalate to. She complained so long she eventually talked the owner into re-hiring the other employee 2 years ago, now I have two jerks to deal with. As the years have gone by everyone in the department treats me that way even the manager. The only reason I haven't been fired is beacause I know my job back an forth, the owner of the company only trusts me on quite a few things (yet another problem). I love what I do and the owner is fantastic, it's the rest of the staff I have issues with. Great article, actually made me feel better.

  6. This happened to me a few years ago. My biggest challenge was that I was a contract employee through a talent agency, not an associate of the company.

    My supervisor was abusive, and her supervisor was on her side because they'd worked together for 25 years. Worse, I didn't have access to the company's HR because policy kept me tethered to my talent agency. And I couldn't quit because doing so would have put my unemployment benefits at risk; I would've left with nothing. Every morning in the parking lot, I'd pray for the strength to just get through the day.

    One day, I flatly told my supervisor to stop yelling at me. The next week, they ended my contract because I'd developed a "bad attitude."

    Thank you for posting this. It's been a few years and I'm in a much better position (and happier!) now than I ever was there. But still, it's a suck-ass thing to have to go through.

  7. A similar situation happened to me when I started a new job a couple of years ago. For a long time I felt incredibly self-conscious about being fired (even though I was fired because of a lie told by said bullying coworker), and I hated myself for letting it happen at all. Sometimes it feels like there's just a shame about being bullied as an adult, especially if you were bullied as a child, like we should know how to keep it from happening, or how to stand up and stop it by now.

    • There's a huge stigma for adult targets of bullying! Part of the problem is that so many people think that bullying is only for kids; they don't believe it happens among adults, too. Part of it is the "blame the victim" mentality. I wanted to share my story to raise awareness, and to let people who have been targets of bullying that they are not alone, and it's not your fault!.

    • I hear you on the shame thing! So much of what we go through in this process of being bullied is so cleverly masqueraded that you just end up feeling like its your fault – and that is part and parcel of the bully's MO. By the time I realised what was going on it was too late to do the paper trail thing, as he had wised up and was being much less overt, but by that time I was broken anyway. Besides, he was my manager. It annoys me that when we receive training on workplace bullying it is assumed that the bully is a co-worker, which conveniently side-steps the issue of the workplace hierarchy. In so many cases I know of, the bully is a manager, and that makes things SO MUCH MORE complicated! In the end I quit a job I was good at, and could have made something great from. It took me a year to start recovering from the experience.

      • I quit yesterday my boss was questioning my adequacy & commitment
        telling me to use his words not mine he belittled my opinion & ideas

        he boasted his skills & ability so i just quit hated to go to work he socially excluded me at lunch time with the other 2 guys in the office I was the only female & older so think he really didn't want me there
        told me I was doing horrible just not worth it I quit another job to go there & be disrespected I made a bad choice but he should not get by with it

    • Harassment and bullying are very similar, but very different according to employment law. Harassment is when a coworker continually picks on/creates hostile work environment/is a total jerk to you because you are a member of a protected status. This includes sexual and racial harassment. This is illegal in the United States.

      Bullying is when someone is a jerk because they don't like you. It has nothing to do with your gender, race, religion, etc. There are no national laws against workplace bullying in the US, so unless your bully assaults you, it's technically legal.

      • Oddly, a bully can be someone who picks on you AND kind of likes you. I get along well with a coworker when he's in a good mood. He doesn't seem to dislike me, but when he's in a bad mood, I'm his convenient doormat, targeted with angry outbursts, sarcasm, belittling comments, and harsh criticism over aspects of my job that are none of his business. This is bullying, due to his low self esteem and anger issues, not due to disliking me. Because he doesn't "hate" me, managers and coworkers (who don't see what he's done to me in private over the years) refuse to believe that he does what I say he does.

  8. This hit home for me very hard! I really wish I'd have had this article 7 months ago. Knowing I wasn't alone would have helped a lot. I was bullied throughout the last year at my last job. I didn't realize it was happening for a long time- or rather, I didn't realize that it was intentional. Sadly, I was in a very small workspace, and the bully took advantage when we didn't have a director to pull some of her schemes, which included giving me her old job, creating new work for me, and not training me so that I appeared incompetent. Our "HR" person is her life partner, so there was no going that way. All the other staff knew what she was doing, but they had their own problems with her, and we had a vacuum of power leadership. Several months later I'd been so worn down by the demands of my position and dealing with her that I just quit, even though I had nothing lined up, and limited opportunities in my field. Our new boss gave me the option of using the city's HR rather than our internal one (since said conflict of interest) but by then I was DONE, and needed the peace of mind to plan my wedding and connect with my then-fiance-now-husband, as I was taking my pain and frustration home every night. I'm really glad I left, even though I'm now underemployed. On the one hand, I know there were plenty of other reasons that my job sucked- in the past year 11 other staff people (in a staff of about 12) have left as well- it's still really hard not to feel the shame that I "gave in" or let my bully win. I wonder what it would have been like to try going through HR.

    • When I read the Lutgen-Sandvik article for class, I was amazed that it laid out perfectly what had happened to me. It also took me a few months to figure out what was happening, that he was treating me differently. His actions were so subtle.

      I felt the same way about feeling that "he won." I asked myself why does he get to keep his job and be praised? What makes him better than me? I eventually got over this feeling (after getting a new job and rebuilding my confidence), but it was hard to shake.

  9. The sucky thing about this is when you do everything you're supposed to and nothing still happens. Myself and a coworker are currently dealing with this, and have been for 3 years now.

    We have kept a paper trail, we have reported the coworker to our bosses, our bosses' bosses and HR. Nothing has been, can be, or will be done about it. When we showed them the paper trail, they said they're hands are tied and that the evidence wasn't substantial enough. The bosses can't do anything unless their bosses do something, and those guys won't do anything because they are remaining neutral in the situation so as to "not rock the boat".

    The other problem?

    Union. I love my union and I hate my union. I love my union because they negotiate for fair contracts and will back us up when we go up against management. I hate my union because in situations involving people from the same union…they won't do anything about it. It also doesn't help that this problem coworker is on the union board.

    My only option to rectify this toxic work environment is to simply quit. But I do not have a new job lined up. At least not yet (not for lack of trying too).

    • Yes, I have seen this injustice in union jobs. I haven't been the brunt of the bullying, but a friend and coworker has. Several others have effectively been run out of their positions because of the bullying, good ol' boys club, and the promotion of the least effective workers to management.

  10. Eeeeesh. Thank you for reminding me how glad I am to work alone, now. I don't think I've experienced anything worse than horrific incompetence (and one wrongful termination from the shittiest job on the planet), thankfully.

  11. This not exactly the same situation but I feel like working at a job that was an emotional dumping ground for my boss was its own form of abuse.
    I worked for a very emotional person for several years, she would use drama to rally her friends around her, if there was no drama in her life she created. It didn't matter how good life got for her, she found ways to have emotional drama at all times. Usually this revolved around her boyfriends or family but eventually even this was not enough drama for her and she gradually started pushing friends away, all the while bringing all the emotional baggage to work with her so that the people around her were forced to be personal counselors. Eventually that drama was sent my direction, she started being very tense and silent around me, it turned out it was my turn to be the problem person in her life.
    I talked with my husband about it and we decided it was best for me to quit, he was really supportive and he knew very well all the drama that went on in the workplace.
    It was a very stressful decision to leave my job but it has been such a relief to be away from all the day to day emotional baggage that was a big part of that job.
    About 6 months after I had quit my job, out of the blue one day my husband turned to me and said "Do you know what I love?"
    "What?" I asked him.
    He said " That I don't know anything about your former boss' life, I don't know who she is having drama over, or if she is yet again planning to leave the current boyfriend, nothing."
    I had no idea how much he hated that I would come home and vent to him, after my stressful days at work.
    I am happy to say we live a much more drama free life now.

    • I ran into a similar situation when I began working in a personal assistant-type role for an acquaintance. At first it was great. We came to be really close friends, he introduced me to a whole new community of fascinating people, and I even met my live-in guy as a result of our working together.

      I became his dumping ground for business and personal stress- and OH my god! the dramadrama with whoever he was dating at the time became my issue to support for some reason. He had absurd expectations of me, was a shit communicator, and turned out to be straight up shitty friend. It all ended one day when in a bout of utter frustration, I told him that contract he couldn't find was probably up his ass.

      • Being someone's emotional dumping ground is a life sucking position to be in.
        The truly sad part was that I was way more passionate about the job than my boss was.

    • Ah gosh, this sounds very familiar! I once had a job with two toxic, melodramatic co-workers, who both behaved inappropriately – one by attempting to bully and manipulate people and the other (the head of department) by ignoring the problem and joining in. It was a really draining atmosphere. A couple of things really helped me – firstly, I made an extra effort to dress smart and behave even more professionally. Secondly, I took every opportunity I could to get out of the office to break up the week (meetings off site, training courses, the occasional day of annual leave).

    • I truly feel for anyone who has been legitimately bullied at work or anywhere. But I am a little bit skeptical of a lot of these stories. Maybe it comes from growing up in a family where in everyone’s workplace stories they portrayed themselves as the “victim” and everyone they didn’t get along with as “the villain.” I sided with many of my family members many a time. But as I got older, I began to question why they seemingly were incapable of getting along with anyone they worked with anywhere and why they seemed to frequently change jobs yet still have the same “problems.” My father is a prime example, other than a few exceptions where he’s held certain jobs for years, most of his employment tends to last for a year or less. He has issues with co-workers, superiors, subordinates and often paints them as being the “problem” I believed him for the longest time, but as I grew older and could see what he was like around the house I began to realize that maybe at least some of the problem lied with him. He can be very moody and confrontational sometimes it feels like you are walking on eggshells when he’s around. I take it he was largely the same way at work which is likely why he clashed with others. He too would tell many of the same stories you see on this website “I was the victim”, “so and so devotes so much time to making my day-life miserable.” “Everyone is out to get me and is conspiring against me.”

      • Dude, you might be right in some cases, but I believe that most stories here are legit. I have been bullied now for 6 months by my senior coworker who always makes fun of me in front of my other coworkers, cursing, using diminishing and rude comments and when he sees that i dont like it he loudly laughs to make me feel even more misereable. About 5 months ago I told him to stop that shit and since then he stopped taking me out to service calls at work and isolates me from the team. He turned against me the whole team. Noone from our team socialize with me anymore or talk to me like before unless I ask something. He tells them bullshit about me behind my back and they believe him, because he is "cool" and their "bro". He brainwashed them against me. I found out that he is going through my drawers at our office even in front my coworkers and laughs at it. We have a fairly new supervisor who has his office right next to ours and his doors are open most of the time. He is a quiet guy, shy type, not really a supervisor type of a guy. Even if the bully does or says something and then laughs at it with my coworkers, the boss pretends he does not hear it or that he does not pay attention it. My coworkers didn't say anything when he was going through my drawers. They are like his "puppets". When he is talking bullshit about me behind my back to them they laugh together. They are already on his side and they also don't take me to service calls anymore. And when I ask them, they make silly excuses. I think that I am a legit victim of a bully, what do you think?
        Sent from my LG V10, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

        • The thing that raises doubt with me is the “lone victim” theme that many of the stories share in common. That a supposed “bully” targeted one individual and focused 100% of their attention on ruining that person’s career-life. No bully that I have ever known has ever had just one victim.
          Some might target different people In different places or multiple people in the same place, but there is always more than one target. The other thing is the fact that the “bully” was able to turn people against the victim and the entire office seemed to be on the side of the “bully” against “the victim” was the question of “why” ever asked? Why would all of these people take another person’s side against you? Unless of course you aren’t the “innocent victim” you portrayed yourself to be and actually had a stake in a contentious relationship that was more about two or more people not getting along than it was about one person picking on-being picked on by another person?

          • I see what you’re saying. You could be right in some cases, but it can depend on the hierarchy too. In my situation, my immediate supervisor speaks condescendingly towards me, but is as nice as pie to everyone else who is either her peer or above her. I’m the only one who directly reports to her, and I can tell you, her attitude towards me is based on her insecurities in her position. If there were others reporting to her, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would be bearing the brunt of her condescension too, but as it stands, I’m the only one. It’s the power play coming into effect here. But that’s just my case, not everyone else’s.

          • I understand what you all are saying regarding this situation. But Jonathan, trust me it happens. I've experienced this. I think that in teh first place, for the bully to be able to operate the workplace must have some toxic elements. In the first instance, the person(psychopathic co-worker) befriended me (I was new and didn't know most people there). In fact, she told me about the position etc, so by the time I started she had already planted in the minds of the other co-workers what to look out for. So it didn't take long for rumors to start flying especially when I was not the lazy person she had described me as. And so she created rumors to spread around but being the two faced devil that she is, she would create rumors and turn around to be supportive worsening the situation. And how do they turn others against you, by also telling the co-workers things you said that you really didn't. It's that simple. And mind you, the director was eating out of her palm so she looked the other way even when I complained. In the second instance, i recognized who the bully was right way based on my previous experience and so did not let him gain control. Guess what? He recruited others to do his bullying. It's just that easy. Once seeds of doubt are planted, all the bully has to do is to direct the drama by using others(flying monkeys). I also used to say stuff like why is everyone saying the same thing until i experienced it. Are there things I could have done differently? Probably, but there were other workers doing same or worse, (in terms of reactions to certain stimuli)and they were not targeted. I was targeted because I held myself to a standard the other's didn't and so they felt they had to put me in my place. If you have ever been truly bullied (i'm talking the covert type) you will understand how easy this divide and conquer process is.

  12. Challenges are great when your workplace bully is your boss, with only one person above him. That happened to me at a previous job – I was targeted because he didn't like my educational background, and took advantage of the fact that I was insecure about my abilities. I got memos in my in-box daily in bold black Arial font questioning what I did and chastising me for minor things, so I'd end up making more mistakes down the road. I was isolated (evening and weekend shifts) with very few I could turn to for support. The union tried to help, but I think my immaturity, my anxious personality, and this person's "not over the line" actions made it difficult to defend me. In the end, we agreed I would leave the company, and it took me 10+ years to regain the confidence I had lost. I think my insecurity and anxiety made it difficult for me to succeed in future positions as well, but I'm slowly improving thanks to more counselling.

    I also see workplace bullying happening to colleagues by their superiors, and hear that there is nothing they can do without risking their professional reputation or their position at my current workplace. It's frustrating. Makes it really hard to support the "pink t-shirt" anti-bullying days they host in the fall at work. I support the concept, but it doesn't change anything.

  13. I was bullied at the job I am still at. It started randomly, and I had no idea what I did to trigger it– just being "different" I guess. Who knows. It was a co-worker with whom I had previously had a good rapport with, so I was totally blindsided. The first thing I did was go to her privately, and I remember I said to her, "I am really sorry if I said or did something to offend you. Can you please tell me what I did so I can apologize and make it right?" She bit my head off and said she was "too busy" to talk about it. I just let it go and it escalated to her talking behind my back and getting other co-workers to ostracize me. I went to our departmental supervisor and she basically played dumb and did nothing. I was miserable. Fortunately I was moved to another section of our department so I could physically avoid her most of the time.

    Then one day a wonderful person in another department told me something very valuable. He said that she's just an unhappy person and can't stand to see any one happy or kind, so the best way to deal with her was to kill her with kindness. As simple as it sounds, it worked on her! I just started being pleasant and behaving "too busy" for her bullsh*t. After a month she was frustrated that I wasn't reacting and she moved on to someone else in the department. I watched her do it 2 more times to other people before I got a promotion and was transferred to a different city. (Each time I saw it, I gave those people the same advice that was given to me).

    In retrospect, I wish I had been a bit more proactive and gone to HR with it once my supervisor proved herself to be inept. (And she repeated that with the other victims of this lady until one day that lady lost her cool and went all psychotic on someone trying to get a reaction. At that point management couldn't ignore her anymore).

    I don't recommend the "killing with kindness" for every situation, but it certainly works on the kind of people who feed off reactions.

  14. I have had this happen at a couple of past jobs (sometimes I think maybe it is me, but I've been in my current position for over three years with no problems yay!).

    I read an excellent book (the only self help book I've ever read in my life) called Toxic People: 10 Ways Of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable

    It helped me identify what was going on in that work relationship, and the best way to handle different types of toxicity (which often manifest as bullying behaviors). While the methods helped alleviate tensions/hostility, I think that the best thing that can be done is to remove yourself from the situation.

    If HR/Management is aware of a toxic employee, and they choose to do nothing, then the only thing that you can do is to leave and find a place where that isn't the case.

    • Thanks for the book recommendation.

      While leaving a job is ideal, in this economy, for some of us it just isn't an option. In my case, I was bullied right at the height of the job market being in the toilet. I support myself, and I'm in my 40s, so changing jobs is more challenging for someone "older" than for someone in their 20s (for a multitude of reasons). In a situation like that, learning how to deal with the offending bully sometimes is our only option until such a time that they leave, or we can.

  15. Geez… This is me, almost to a T. I have two of them in the office. I'm not 100% certain what started it, but I suspect it began when I was put in a position to coordinate Bully A's "team" by my then supervisor. The person had been with the company for over 20 years and was generally left to do her thing because she did it well. Then one day you have me, half her age, with the company only months, and I was to check in with her daily and offer assistance where needed, and then report back to our mutual supervisor. Shortly after I started that job, the passive-aggressive behavior began. I mentioned it to my supervisor, only to be told to let it roll off. When I finally left that position and transitioned into a new group, it didn't stop. What did happen was suddenly I had Bully B, who is a close friend of Bully A. By taking the new position, I inadvertently replaced one of Bully B's favorite lunch buddies. The cycle began again, but now there were two of them.

    My supervisor always just told me to be the bigger person, let it go, etc, etc… She basically ignored it. After she left, and we got a new supervisor, not a whole lot has changed. He's a great person, but is very non-confrontational and urges everyone in the department to just "get along" and "work together". I gave up long ago on this getting any better. The kicker though, is that I am now out on an extended medical leave, and Bully B is covering desk. It leaves such an awful taste in my mouth as I have little doubt that she is spending this time happily looking for a reason to get rid of me and I am not there to defend myself.

  16. I have a colleague who does this. She's a higher rank and has kind of burned out on the job, I think. I'm younger, and she was always accusing me of saying things I hadn't said. Mostly misinterpreting things I said as being negative comments about her when they weren't. Then she'd go off angry on me. I started confronting her in a professional manner after she and I had both cooled off, telling her that the way she was talking to me was completely inappropriate. When she accused me of something in an email, I responded professionally and copied to our supervisor. Eventually she started apologizing for the misunderstanding and it happens a lot less now.

  17. I could have written this post. It happened to me for a long time and was completely awful. Having a job you love and are good at becomes terrible when someone there is singling you out and doing everything in their power to make you miserable. I'm out of that situation and my job now is amazing (I'm a freelance artist and work from home, on my own schedule), but I spent too long coming home from work and sobbing about the fact that I had to go back the next day, and being told by management that it was my problem I had to get over. It had a lasting effect on me, and I still get horrible anxiety in situations that remind me of it.

  18. Back when I was a temp, I had a similar incident where the bully was the person who hired me.
    I got on great with everyone else in the department, the HR department that is and always found new tasks to keep myself busy and to be useful. However hiring lady would try her best to trip me up, divert tasks to someone else (which defeated the purpose of why I was hired – to take some of the extra workload) and excluded me from every discussion big or small.

    I later learned that she was going through a nasty divorce where the ex was leaving her for a younger woman. One of my co-workers suggested my age was the reason hiring lady was giving me such a hard time, and that was it! Nothing else!
    I also found out, that the office manager had been behind the decision to hire me after all, not hiring lady. She wanted another candidate, who despite not having the same skill set, was a far better option than having some reminder of why her marriage was breaking apart. A reminder that I was not that younger woman!

    I was fortunate that I made some good friends and was able to confide in my co-workers and eventually the office manager. Even when there were no more tasks for me to do and I decided to move on to another company, they invited me to their Christmas party because I was a lot of fun. Coincidentally, hiring lady who organized this party (for the whole company) did not turn up, as she "was sick."

    The point about the root coming from somewhere personal was true in my case. I was lucky to have a happy ending but it took some guts to open up and vent my problems before they got to me.

  19. Thank you for mentioning that oftentimes we do not recognize when we become Mean Girls. I know from experience, when you feel like your back is against the wall and that no one else will defend you but yourself, how easy it is to slip into the Aggressor role. I bullied my bully with logic and 50 cent words, and when someone pointed it out to me I felt terrible about.

  20. Thank you so much for this post! It couldn't have come at a better time. I quit my job one week ago without notice because I was so tired of the assholes at work. I worked in a child development center, and the Mean Girls comparison is spot on. It was like Jr. high all over again. The final straw was my bully admitting during a meeting that she doesn't like me, she hates all of the "stupid shit" that I do (such as:I politely asked her to unplug her scent warmer one day because we share a working space and the strong smell made me feel sick) that she doesn't hide the fact that she's rude to me, and that I'm the "black sheep" of the center. All of this, plus profanity IN FRONT OF MY SUPERVISOR (who was supposed to mediate, but instead sat there and said nothing). This is after months of me telling my supervisor many of the hostile things this woman did. At this meeting I said very little because my blood was boiling and I didn't want to lose my shit. Afterwards my boss tells me the she wishes I would've "defended myself," because it wasn't her place to say anything.

    Unfortunately, this kind of crap happens way too much, and too many supervisors are either asses themselves or they have no balls.

    • I have noticed that when employers are chummy and constantly laughing with certain employees, the employer fails to see the faults of these employees. The employer may nitpick on the performance of the shy and quiet employees instead. Sometimes, employers find it easier to criticize the less popular employees and use that criticism to advance their careers.

      I had an employer would wrote on my performance appraisal that I fail to realize when employees are busy. In truth when the boss was away, his favorite employees would:
      1. leave work 15 minutes early and leave me alone with customers who rightfully walked in before the advertised closing time.
      2. pretend to arrive early to work, when in actual fact they were goofing around (often reading the newspapers, shopping around for coffee/snacks, making personal telephone calls, etc).
      3. often using the internet for social media (sometimes spreading defamation of staff), playing games (eg. World of Warcraft), ordering goods from Amazon, arranging their bachelor party/wedding plans, reading the internet news/gossip, checking out movie reviews and prices, planning their next holiday or social outing, etc . (this also often happened when the manager was around but hidden in his office)
      4. backstab staff via phone calls to other branches.
      5. deliberately ignore answering the phone or ignore my requests for help at reception (sometimes more than 10 customers could arrive at once, and the phone rang practically non-stop). The manager would usually help out at reception, or would not help but instead complain if I answered the phone whilst customers were at reception. I knew that expecting a constant stream of visitors throughout the day is not unreasonable (leaving no time to answer phone messages).I knew that his favorite staff would not answer the phone, let alone be bothered to help out with phone messages.
      6. exit through the back entrance, away from view of the manager's office, to spend 30 minutes to collect the office mail. The manager allowed his favorite office girl to collect the mail, a job that was taken away from me because I complained that I needed help when work was busy (he allowed his favorites to choose how to help). BTW it used to take me 5 minutes to safely collect the mail, without jaywalking through busy city traffic.
      7. hardly ever relieved me at reception to provide me the required 2 x 15 minute work breaks. Customers can constantly be in the office, and when customers weren't visiting the phones would definitely ring, which meant I would not be afforded the luxury of time to go to the toilet (the boss helped out at reception more than the other staff). A crazy staff member monitored my lunch breaks: once I had gastro and took 36 minutes for a lunch break because I had to use the toilet (that staff couldn't be bothered to allow me a tea break when customers were always around at work that day).
      8. were rude and obnoxious to me, even in front of the customers, but were super polite to the boss.
      9. they rarely helped out at reception, unless their friends visited or the boss ordered them to help.
      10. the banking always used to balance when I did it. The manager took that job away from me, and gave it to his favorite male employee to take care of, which meant that the banking would sometimes not balance. That male co-worker would be smug and angry towards me when the banking did not balance (demanding to know why it did not balance); however, I wasn't the only person responsible for taking money from the petty cash tin.
      11. when relieving me of reception duties, they would leave me with new phone messages to take care of (when the boss relieved me of reception duties, he would never leave me phone messages).
      12. when relieving me of reception duties, they would make too many database errors. This would make my job difficult (eg. finding a patient via data of birth search or annoying the boss by having to re-check their work).

  21. It's been over a year since I left a workplace where I was being bullied. For the most part, I've coped with it and moved on, but even still, this post was a wonderful and reassuring read. I didn't know there was an outlined cycle, similar to the domestic violence cycle – but now that I read it, it's spot on, which just helps me remind me what was going on was messed up, and it was not my fault.

    The initiating event for me was being told I should "bend over backward" for the organization and be willing to be "on call" perpetually during my time off and willing to come in to work an extra shift at a moment's notice without pay. I didn't even directly say no; I offered to be flexible with my schedule and change shifts around if needed, or if they really wanted me to work extra, I was open to discussing compensation for it.

    I had been there for a month-and-half and already had my required skills competency checklists signed off and had thus far had absolutely no problems. Everything changed after that one interaction, though. The director began calling me derogatory names (I was the youngest in the group, so she called me "baby" and "little girl"), and my co-workers started frequently talking about me behind my back and ostracizing me. They would send each other very hateful emails about me with my name as the subject line, and then leave them up in the office where they knew I was going to need to work on that computer and would see it.

    I was suddenly accused of performing poorly, of my past jobs obviously being terrible and my university also being terrible. They had to be to produce someone as incompetent as me, right? When I asked them to produce documentation where I had made mistakes or had poor outcomes, they couldn't do it, and it didn't matter that I had documentation that they had observed me performing the skills necessary for the job and signed off that I was competent (on 2/3 of the observations, I was actually rated as having excellent performance, not just satisfactory).

    I had been there 3.5 months when they finally told me I could leave or be fired. When I told my director's boss that she had called me "baby" and "little girl," that boss just said "Well, I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it." I went home, called and talked to my family about it, then emailed my resignation that evening. The director then had the nerve to ask me if I would come in and work the next day. Obviously, I didn't.

  22. I ran into something like this at a former workplace. My husband said that to really make a difference you need to get HR involved and don't be afraid to throw around phrases like 'Hostile work environment". Things like that will get their attention and then they will be obligated to contact the manager and find out what's going on. Things like that can be a lawsuit waiting to happen. With me, I drafted that email, HR contacted my manager, she contacted the bully employee and called him on the carpet. Even if they don't think it's a problem, they have to show HR that they did something so they'll do something. In my case it did get an apology out of the bully and things did better after that. I left fairly soon after to go back to school, but don't be afraid to be the squeaky wheel!

  23. This happened to me. I worked on the trading floor of an investment bank as an executive assistant. I loved my job, my boss, the atmosphere. I was working with some "veteran" admins who were bullies, gossips, and shockingly vindictive and cruel. When I didnt join them in their daily bashing of what so-and-s0 was wearing or discussing peoples divorces, etc, I was shunned from the group. Thats when it began. The nitpicking. The pointing out of things they didn't think I did well. The rumors. The gossip. The whispering. About me. I would be excluded from social functions and sneered at when I walked into a room they were in. Unbeknownst to me, my reputation was tarnished from the start just by association with them. I just continued to work hard, independently and proved myself to be a good employee. I helped anyone who asked, never told them "I'm too busy" or "I only help this level and up"..seriously it takes 5 seconds to book a conference room and their ego wouldnt allow them to do it?? They were so unpleasant.
    Executives started to notice me and appreciate me, I became the most requested assistant for visiting executives, including the chairman of the bank. That drove them BANANAS. They upped their game. Started asking me VERY personal questions, loudly, in front of others, and asking repeatedly. Demanding answers. "So, when you YOU going to have a baby?" "So, you were talking to so-and-so pretty late the other night! What were you talking about for so long? Seemed kind of friendly to me!"
    When my boss recommended me for a position (he was relocating) they went behind my back and badmouthed me to hiring manager (saying I was unprofessional and that I was going to have a baby and go out on leave), who in turn, hired one of them instead. I dreaded going there every day. I dreaded having to ask them to cooperate on things, dreaded seeing them walk toward me and then slow down and they tried to look and see what I was doing/wearing/who I was talking to so they could discuss it. Eventually I got another job and left and didn't tell any of them. One of them still works there and is miserable, one of them ended up leaving the company because after a restructuring no one wanted to hire her.
    One thing that I learned is in many corporations, HR exists to protect the company, not employees. People who have been with a place for a long time often have a leg up on new hires. Sometimes it makes you look worse going to HR to complain because they wonder if you're the one with the problem because "no one else has complained" these situations its best to just leave. I know this is not always on option for people, but the stress, the just takes too much out of you.

    • "One thing that I learned is in many corporations, HR exists to protect the company, not employees."

      YES. This was the most disheartening lesson for me to learn and you can only learn it the hard way.

      • "One thing that I learned is in many corporations, HR exists to protect the company, not employees."

        I cannot emphasize how much this is true – I never expect HR to do anything than undermine me. If I need a defence I use the Union – but even then I have very limited expectations

      • Totally agree. Going to HR just gives them a heads up to build an arsenal against the "conplainer". Things that would otherwise go unnoticed gets added to a list of reasons why you were fired.

        • That happened to me and I decided to quit my job. I was bullied by a boss who has cancer, and almost everybody liked her. She was a compulsive back-stabber and treated me like the "office clown" in front of patients. After complaining to her bosses, she became more sneaky and vindictive.

          I hated coming to work and having to initiate Good Mornings because most staff would deliberately not acknowledge my greetings. My boss had turned staff against me (I was always polite to others).

    • Sometimes it makes you look worse going to HR to complain because they wonder if you're the one with the problem because "no one else has complained".

      YES!!! That's what happened with me. Another co-worker started having his own issues and I encouraged him to stand up for himself, start documenting everything but he was terrified he would look like the trouble person.

      The isolation really hurt. I did my best to suck it up because I was on the other end. But it was hard to walking into the communal office after hearing people talk about me, have them stop mid-sentence (or in case of the woman who was tipsy all the time actually stage whisper, "Shhhhh she's here!")…I still wanted to be part of the group. Why I have no idea.

      But yeah, HR did jack to help me. Not a single thing.

      I ended up quitting what was a good job. I liked the work I did. I did it really well too. I had a lot of people taking notice of what was going on. I improved systems and procedures. But the constant nitpicking got to be too much both mentally and physically.

      I got out as soon as I could and took a HUGE pay cut. But it was so worth it in the end.

  24. I recently left my 14 year HR career to move to Alaska with my husband.

    As the HR chick, I can tell you that this is a very difficult situation, and I continue to wonder if I treated certain situations accurately. I will say that there was one particular person who we couldn't help his claim of being bullied, because he was asking for preferential treatment, and when he didn't get those perks, that's when he cried Bully. He said that he was being bullied because the manager expected the same out of him as the rest of the employees.

    Do yourself a favor and keep a detailed account of every time that you feel you are being bullied. Write it down. That way, when it's time to approach HR, you have multiple accounts, and not just the recent one you're pissed/upset about. Be able to have that rational conversation with facts instead of feelings.

    After all, a judge wants to hear facts. And if your situation gets there, you might have to present your case to a judge (think wrongful termination, which might be the situation for the author here).

    • I wish the documentation had worked for me. I did exactly what you said, dates, times, facts. When I presented it to our HR person in charge of personnel conflict I was told that it didn't matter because she was my manager. She did tell me that she wanted to help but the system would support the manager over me just because she was a manager. She told me I wasn't wrong, that I was being bullied (she said harassed), that it seemed that I was being unfairly called out amongst my peers but she couldn't do anything to help.

      • Wow, just, wow. You know, I think that if my (now former) employer had this come up, we would have ended up calling our employment lawyer on this one. Following the law is where HR has to be the advocate for the employer.
        But I whole-heartedly believe that HR can be an advocate for the employee as well. A lot of times they're not, and it's because of the dynamics of management. I was at my employer for over a decade, and it was really my only "grown-up" job, and I was so disheartened to see how much office politics were played. HR doesn't make the money, so they don't get to drive the policies. It sucks.

        I can tell you that the reason I went into HR was because I want to be able to help people be happy in their jobs. I truly believe where I worked we were good at advocating for the employees. And it's probably why I worked there for so darn long. I was just too scared to leave a place where people would stop by HR to say hi because they like you, to take a job elsewhere – only to find out that going to HR is like being sent to the Principal's office, and that no one wanted to go. In fact, when we were interviewing people to replace me, a lot of the candidates described their working conditions as being very set back from the workers, and that no one ever wanted to go there. Yuck.

        It just breaks my heart to hear what you went through. Here's wishing you a much happier working environment!

  25. I've been bullied but didn't do anything about it. Luckily a coworker noticed and spoke up. I don't think the person doing the bullying even really knew what she was doing. When I was hired she was no longer the "young" one I think I just threatened what she saw as her role. Things improved once she was called on her behavior and I just did my best to avoid her.

    Just to come from a different perspective I'm an employer and the employment laws where we are (New Zealand) can seem to favour the employees. It can be really hard to get rid of someone even if you know of their toxic behavior especially if they're "good" at their job otherwise.

  26. When we were dating, my dude ended up being bullied pretty badly while in a probationary period for an apprenticeship. He stuck it out for 2 weeks before pulling the plug, because if it was that bad already, it certainly wasn't going to get any better. My parents said some pretty nasty things about his "lack of ambition" and "cowardice" at the time, but I'm proud of him for sticking up for himself and finding a different job.

  27. This is unbelievable. I can't believe people are being lead/forced to quit their jobs because of some a -hole(s). I've been bullied before, only once directly at work and I didn't defend myself because I already had a very strong dislike of said person and I knew I would come across as too mean if I did. Has anybody been able to solve this without leaving the workplace or seeing the bully go? I know a friend who has dealt with the occasional jerk once and then, has always stood his ground and has made most of them respect him and even act friendly towards him afterwards, but I don't know the success rate of this approach

  28. Omg, this is exactly what happened to me, and that description fits me perfectly as well!

    I was having nightmares about it, dreading work, eventually I asked to be moved to a different department and was told I was over reacting and that my aggressor was "just joking!" (she wasn't, but she's friends with the big boss).

    Last week they finally transferred me. I'm in another building now, the bully tried to make out she was responsible for my "promotion" and I should be grateful to her.

    It's better where I am now (so far) but it has still affected how I feel about the company and my job, so if the right opportunity comes along, I'll take it.

  29. I experienced workplace bullying a few years ago. I'll never forget reading an article on it and realizing there was an actual term for what was happening to me and that I wasn't alone in experiencing it. It was to the point where I called my boyfriend every morning on my way to work in tears and he had to give me the daily "pep talk" so I could face walking into the building. Once I found a new job, I simply wrote an email to my supervisor and told her what had been happening and that I wouldn't be back to work the next day. She wasn't very surprised, and told me that the bully "has her own agenda" (that's what she offered me as excuse to why she was bullying me). Kind of like, sorry, but that's who she is. I'm thankful every day that part of my life is over!!

    • I'm thankful too!

      That excuse of "well, it's who she is" seems to be the company line. I've been harassed twice while working at the university I am in (it happened with two different men in two different departments, same college though!). Both times I was told, that's just who he is. Um…no. Then it was, "Well, he's not American so he doesn't understand." Um…no. Faculty have to take the same sexual harassment courses staff has to take. Then it was, both times, I'm not lying, "Well he's done this before and we'll talk to him about it again."

      The second time I was being bullied by my boss so I was too terrified to file a complaint and believed the department chairman was actually going to speak to the professor harassing me and then file a letter with the college, something for his work file/tenure file, etc. But I doubt it happened.

      I'm sorry you went through your own bullying experience. You're stronger now than before!

  30. Well, at least there are 29% other people who have been where I have been. It was scary reading each of the steps here. When I got to isolation I felt a knot in my gut. I was SO isolated. Not just no one talked about me but moved out of my office to a dingy room away from my co-workers and my assistant. HR was TOTALLY unhelpful telling me it was my own fault. In fact when I had my last write up (isn't that step 2 the progressing write ups for no real good reasons?) I felt this real sense of calm and peace come over me because I realized no matter what she said I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. I looked at her dead on while she discussed my issues. She actually started that chin-trembling-I'm-gonna-cry thing and said some shit about this being hard for her and I just grinned at her. At that moment I realized that I had the power. Even if NO ONE was going to back me up I knew that I had the power.

    After that I made sure that there would be nothing that could be said about my work. My boss knew she was wrong. She wouldn't have been almost crying if she didn't realize that I was on to her. I was originally terrified because she just kept at me. But that moment of her almost losing it made me change everything.

    When we all had our yearly evaluations not too long after that I was asked by the bigger boss if there were any issues I'd like to discuss besides the issues with being written up all the dang time. I said sure, let's talk about the co-worker who isn't doing work, who comes in tipsy every morning, who constantly leaves our waiting room unattended during our busiest times. He said no one else has ever complained. Which was crap-our personnel people said that everyone complained about her. She was actually moved from position to position because of her total incompetence (it's extremely hard to fire a full time staff member at our university).

    Anyway, later my one co-worker who was supportive told me about his evaluation and said he talked about how he was having trouble with the same woman and laid out the problems with her leaving and not filing paperwork and other things and he was literally told to "hush up" and stop talking. Boss lady told him that this wasn't an issue to be discussed. He didn't know I had brought it up in my evaluation. But since our boss and the big boss evaluated us together she knew it was an issue that had already been brought up and didn't want to look bad in front of the big boss. That tipsy woman is still there.

    The boss lady is still there. But my old pal and I both left. In fact, a lot of good people left just after us. Sometimes I think it takes someone to say, "HEY THIS IS CRAP! PEACE OUT!" to help others realize that they too don't have to take the crap. I won't lie, the two years I worked there were hell and I'd never do it again. But I am proud that I stuck to my ethics, I stuck to my beliefs, and I voiced them when I thought shady shit was going down.

    Now I'm in a completely different position. And I think about the battles to fight and not to fight. And I know that I'm totally on my own. But I've not been bullied. I've not been harassed (which did happen and I was asked to not say anything because he had already been in trouble before…). I'm happier here. I like the work I do. I am supported in what I do. My boss and co-workers work with me. If there is any trouble it's addressed right away (instead of piling up as "documented incidents" and then the boss lady laying it all out for me months down the road). But nothing is ever terrible. No mistake cannot be corrected or will stop the world from turning. Every mistake in the other office was apocalyptic. A minute over my lunch hour OMGOSH the world is ending. A comma in the wrong spot in a letter and we're DOOMED. Here it's like meh whatever. Because they know that I do my work and I do it well.

    No one should have to go through this. I don't understand why HR departments aren't more helpful. I've read articles from HR people explaining their tough choices but please. If I am being bullied at work you should do something to help me. Don't just immediately side with the manager because the title is higher than mine.

    • I'm sorry you and so many other people have had problems with HR departments that don't care. One of the reasons I want to go into HR is to fix this! Instead of immediately siding with management, HR should keep the problem from escalating by gathering facts and mediating/facilitating a discussion between the bully and the target. During the first three phases, it can still be fixed. But, once the organization turns a blind eye, there's not much you can do other than separate yourself from the bully.

      • HR is there to comply with labor laws. harassment based on race, sexual orientation, age… The expectation is for the employee(s) to try to come to a resolution. If they can't work it out then a manager might get involved, but if laws aren't being broken this usually is the end of the line. It sucks to have a coworker not like you, but this does not equate to a HR problem. Try to befriend that person or grow a thicker skin.

  31. Wow. Um, this hit home. I just got back from maternity leave and on day 4 at the office was given a write-up and told "you could be fired immediately and without warning" and "think about whether you really want this job". The weird thing is that I really like my bully boss as a person, and even as a boss she has some real strong points and is occasionally very supportive. I strongly doubt she's bullying intentionally. Nevertheless, though… it's good to realize I'm not insane, that there's a word for what she's doing and that other people have experienced similar things.

    • Coming back two years later to say I was giving her too much benefit of the doubt. She was absolutely bullying intentionally, ended up firing me, and exactly six months later hired a friend of hers to fill the role I'd been in.

      I am now in a job that is better in every way, and can see such a big difference in how my current boss actually supports me, and how my bully boss pretended to support me while actually undermining me. If I've learned anything, it's that I can trust my instincts and stick to what I know to be right, both in the sense of "correct" and "moral".

  32. This happened to me on my first job, with my supervisors. It started with unpleasantness, then asking for more than I could possibly do with the allotted time given to me, and when I did it anyway by working from 9AM to 3AM everyday (including weekends) it escalated to giving me ridiculous orders, when I said they were ridiculous they said I had to do what I was told, and when I did I was accused of doing ridiculous things and of course no such orders had been given me.
    That's when I knew (5 months after I began) that something fishy was going on. I talked to the director, told her I was gonna leave, and she said it was her fault, of course she would write me any number of letters of recommendation I needed. It turns out I was not first choice by the supervisors but the director had put her foot down.
    Now I'm having the same problem, though for different reasons. But I'm not 22 anymore and I have a 6-month-old baby, I can't just quit. I met with our work psychologist, who advised me to try an horizontal transfer within the organisation, which is interesting and I'm definitely gonna try but God knows how long it's gonna take and it's becoming increasingly hard to go to work every day…

  33. I had an absolutely awful job last year. I had just left uni prematurely and needed to take the first thing that came along, it was fine for the first couple of months, the really friendly at interview then very moody boss experience but nothing too bad and it was spread over all of us rather than just me. Then a new guy started in my department. I had to buddy him for a couple of days and he seemed ok, he lived in the same area as me so we got the bus home together the first night. The next morning however, I was listening to music when he came on the bus and didn't see him. After that he was awful. He made fun of me in front of all our co workers, he used his size to be pretty intimidating with body language, and he was personal friends with my boss…..great. I'm not sure how many times I went home hiding my face from him on the bus because I was crying so much. After a month I got moved to another department and only saw him briefly in the office, but he then got moved to the desk right next to me. I was so anxious by then that I left and never went back.

  34. Often times, when I read about workplace bullying, I read that more senior, more experienced, and more liked employees become targets of workplace bullying and harassment. Every time I see this my heart sinks just a little bit. I've had very good work experiences all the way through college. In all these good experiences I was a newbie, but the management was stellar and I never had a problem. The last two work experiences I have had have been god awful. In these two scenarios I was a new, inexperienced worker with little job connections. Myself and others in a similar position found that some of the managers and more experienced, more well-liked employees were making us do degrading jobs. For example, every time I was on shift the plunger to the bathroom would disappear and I would be asked to clean a clogged, dirty toilet by hand. Miraculously, it would reappear after the job was done! This is just the tip of the iceberg of what some of us went through at the hands of more seasoned employees. I was crying at both these jobs daily. I kept to myself for the most part, but was forced to leave due to severe anxiety.

    My question is…….why is it so prevalent that go-to employees are the ones being targeted? If you go to many websites, this is what they say about who gets targeted. Is it possible that new employees suffer just as much from this as more veteran employees?

    Has anyone here had any experiences being the new kid on the block and receiving horrible treatment from higher ups within their job? Most days I just feel like maybe my experience was all my fault or just in my head.

  35. I'm currently at Stage 5 but I'm not giving up yet. For anyone else going through this, remember to write down EVERYTHING and contact the EEOC as soon as you have enough information to make a case. Good luck, and don't let the bullies win.

  36. Contacting the EEOC and the Labor Board is a great idea! Some employees for Kent Security did so when they were demoted or fired for complaining about a "Wall of Shame" created by a bully supervisor. This case made the news in Southwest Florida. Despite the obstacles employees may face, they do have rights!

  37. The US Federal Government is rife with bullying and harassment.. Hey they do not call the USDA "The Plantation" for nothing..

  38. I am being bullied at my job. I am stuck in the same spot with a woman for 8 hours a day every day. She first started by saying I was "talking over her" when other employees were addressing both of us. I asked her to please let me know while I'm doing it and offered solutions that she refused to take or scoffed at (I honestly don't realize I'm doing it) instead of coming at me after the fact, because I view after as her attacking me, and especially her tone of voice in how she tells me i'm doing it and that she won't tell me again. Like i'm a fucking child. She did this twice after I told her that bothers me and the last time I said "Dammit _____ please stop doing that!" She just refuses to get that I really do not appreciate that kind of criticism even though I have asked her repeatedly to stop. She even said "You keep doing it, so i'm going to keep telling you." There's other instances, like she asked me to refill paper for the printer and when I didn't do it the way she wanted she said "What are you doing, I should have just done this myself" and I got upset and asked her why she said that and if she thought I was too stupid to fill a printer correctly. She didn't say anything. Other things like yelling at me and telling me the phone is ringing when I can clearly hear it and there are people who I am assisting for help. The people I was helping apologized for 'getting me in trouble' (they had done nothing wrong) after she left because of how rudely she spoke to me in front of them. Then afterwards accusing me of being incompetent and saying she thinks I don't understand that I can't be in two places at once. The last straw (I think I may finally go to HR for this) is when we both got a gift (the same thing) and she was talking about how she was going to take candy to her holiday party. I had already opened my gift and knew it had food in it. I said she might want to take the gift with her or at least not put it under her tree because it had food in it. She lost it. She started talking loudly and called me mean spirited, callous, oblivious and rude and said I had no business saying anything to her and that I have no concept of empathy or of anyone else's feelings. I told her I've had animals get into wrapped fudge and insect infestations from wrapped food and I was trying to let her know and give her a heads up, but she insisted I was being rude and then lit into me about decorations I had previously put up and how I was so selfish I deliberately placed them so that others wouldn't be able to get into the cabinet. Then she forced me to apologize and I know she's going to be horrible to deal with after this, but I cannot work with someone who just does not respect me. Especially not when we're constantly in the same space.
    I'm afraid of losing my job though because I got mad at her that one time, but her outburst was really uncalled for. She attacked my personal charecter and my work performance and I'm already in therapy but I feel like i'm going to have to do even more intensive work with my therapist because of the hurt she caused me. I already dread going into work because she's so hostile and unpredictable and I'm not sleeping well because of this. I just don't know. I should also mention that I'm 28 and she is at least 38 or 40, unmarried and lives alone. She is not my superior and we have the same job title.

  39. All bullying is unacceptable and unnecessary…Work place bullying, what will he do about it? All bullying needs to stop. What will they do about work place bullies and bullying? I was also the only one he treated like this..All he needed to do was be kind, show kindness. I want to bring more awareness to work place bullying in 2016 to help others not have to deal with bullies for bosses. The laws need to change!!! What will they do about work place bullies and bullying, it needs to stop…I was fired 12 days before Christmas…
    I use to like people but a bully shot me down! Bosses should lead employees not Bully…Yes not from bullies! What about work place bullies?! Remember bullies come in all shapes and sizes….I was bullied by an adult named Jeff Ursino , my manager at Citibank in Carmel, Ca…after he successfully made me sick with nerves and caused my blood pressure to go up he fired me via UPS 12 days before Christmas while I was out on a workers comp pending case…my family will never forget the pain he caused us….and I haven't worked since due to all of this.
    Jeff Ursino once told me that I couldn't wear the hats I'd been wearing to work for almost four years with no problem. He said it was company policy yet there was nothing in writing. I called HR and they said there was nothing in the codes about hats. About six weeks later Jeff Ursino decided to tell me that I could wear hats again but only a couple days a week. I asked him what about the policy and he replied " I'm in control" , it was his way of throwing his weight around, what a bully! He also threatened to fire me for job abandonment if I didn't show up to work on a day I couldn't work, my daughter was ill and he was already fully staffed. He put me on the schedule at the last minute to pressure me into working…a Bully at his finest. He also stated that I hadn't worked on days that I had and I still have a copy of the schedules.
    Bullying needs to end and companies need to properly train manages to be leaders not bullies! What will politicians do about it? Nothing! We need to unite and do something about adult bullying and in the work place!
    I have two boxes of proof and I did document everything. When I realized that there is actually an Awareness month for anti bullying I decided to tell my story again in hopes of finding an organization that I can help bring light to this also very ugly issue!
    What I have mentioned is just a bit of all he did. No one cared or did anything about it. I wrote my leaders, congressmen , senators , mayors, city leaders, the president , attorney general, etc…everyone past the buck. Since then, bullying has come to the forefront and I want to tell my story.
    He is a father of 3 sons, still a " manager" , on the board of trustees for a school district and I can't help but wonder who he is bullying now.
    He had choices and he chose to be unkind, uncaring, not understanding, treated me like crap, ignored what others where doing, focused on me until he ruined me!
    ALL BULLIES NEED TO BE STOPPED!!!!! All companies need Bullying training and the manager isn't always right! Only cowards bully other people! He didn't care what I was wearing he simply wanted to show who was in control and bully me. The hats didn't prevent me from doing my job nor did anyone ever complain about them, in fact I got lots of compliments from customers and a couple of his bosses and someone from HR, it's was great until he showed up as a temporary manager. He just wanted me gone and set out to wrongfully terminate me. He couldn't even write me up correctly and I have the proof. He couldn't even fire me correctly as he broke California Labor codes in the process of firing me. He was simply unkind and heartless to me.
    Please grow up to be a kind, caring person. Never purposely make someone fear their going to loose their job for putting their daughter first, that's what he did to me…and yet he is a father.
    Time to open their eyes and our leaders and change the laws. Speak the truth state the facts and have your evidence ready! One of the reasons I am doing this is because I have proof, my journal, the forms he used to write me up incorrectly. He was in such a hurry to write me up that the first time he wrote me up he used the wrong form, he used the second warning form. He threatened me with job abandonment yet didn't know how that law worked. For some reason the universe, my God or what ever you want to believe, had me keep all the evidence. In my journal I wrote daily of what occurred at work, he singled me out. In four and a half years I loved my job 98 percent of the days then he came and ruined not only me but the spirit of that bank branch. He took away causal Friday and tried to take away cookies on Fridays for our customers. He said we all had to only eat in the break room but yet would eat at his desk and not say anything to the pretty blonde when she ate at her station. He took all my family photos down and claimed it was best for my family but allowed others to have their family photos out! A BULLY!!!!please share my story to bring awareness to work place bullying.
    The more I read the more I realize he was threatened by me. My reviews didn't justify what he did. Several times I was asked if I was the manager as he stood next to me. The hat issue was just him being a bully, he ignored what others did and wouldn't give me credit when it was due to me, he played it down. He snapped his fingers twice, said my name , pointed to the back room and said Damari in the back the very first time he ever addressed me. In the back room he said my reputation precedes me, that upper management had nothing but glowing reports about me. He asked why I thought I do so well and I told him because I love my job. He was a temporary manager, the branch was looking for a full time manager. Jeff Ursino was managing two branches during this process, I was trying to hang in there until we got a new one but he couldn't wait to fire me. I'm understanding more about bullies these days, it doesn't make it right but we need to pray for the bully.
    That's was awesome, thank you for caring and reposting. I use his name and the bank and location to keep it real and honest. I have nothing to hide. I use to tell my kids' if you don't want grammy to know what you did then don't do anything you'd be a shamed of because I will tell grammy the truth' it really helped with their behavior. I once wrote him and asked why he did what he did and I also told him that I hope no one ever treated his family as he had treated mine, but I got no response to my email from him. It's all true so it's not slander. Have an awesome day, thank you very much. So sorry about what you went through, hopefully we can get others to come forth and share their stories. I honestly feel that the bully should be called out, if he/she was so proud of their actions then don't get upset when we share what you've done. Please feel free to share my story to bring awareness to work place bullies and bullying, it needs to stop, the laws need to protect the employees and victims not the bully. Share my story please.

  40. I swear to the Lord and 100% right that benefits at work or a job doesn't mean anything if bullying, harassment, hostility, discrimination or such injustice at work are tolerated at all for any person from intern or volunteer all the way to CEO or Board!

    I don't know what the deal is with this Hospice in Alabama which went from being Kindred Care Hospice to Hospice Complete to Alabama Hospice Care with locations in Hoover, Trussville, Pelham, etc. It is the worst remembrance how the clear, proven worst of worst toxic female bully named Susan Jones from Northport, AL at the very worst a volunteer coordinator will always be remembered for excessive screaming, finding faults, micromanaging, bashing other people including her own boss in front of her subordinates even as so foolish, immaturely and unprofessionally openly whispering in front of others and belittling others and worst of worst doing illegal/unethical things such as asking volunteers if they have a disability for no reason, throwing a childish fit if something is not perfect to her standards or something a tad off when she said ironically things don't have to be perfect. Thankfully they fired her and let's pray she is better and hope Linda Chavies the receptionist is no more toxically negative for no reason with abnormal behavior.

  41. I have encountered this type of employment as well. The managers get high during the day, the owner of the company is passive aggressive, has punched a hole in the wall, thrown phones through the office, loves to talk about his drunken nights out and uses profanity while employees are on the phones. He belittles other employees in front of you to try and create fear within the office. There is no type of positive reinforcement or recognition. The only time he talks is to hear himself and if you did a bad job; which he will do in front of the entire office as well as have meetings in the middle of the office while others are on the phone. I was there 11 months before finally resigning and in that time there were 12 out of 17 people who were fired or quit. Not to mention the fact that all of his employees are not paid for ANY overtime due to them being on salary. I myself encountered numerous times where the owner used homophobic slurs such as fag, butt pirate, and cocksucker when speaking to other employees. Not only is he ignorant, homophobic, and an arrogant person but he thinks the company is the best thing since sliced bread. I am trying to find a way to notify the appropriate party because there was no human resource department and many employees who still work there are afraid to quit because they have families to provide for. If anyone knows of anything to do i would greatly appreciate it. The company name is All American Facility Maintenance in Hollywood, Florida.

  42. I am bullied everywhere I go. I cannot figure it out. Have been let go three times already because of it. My last three jobs in fact. Just got let go last Friday. Not so bent out of shape about it now because it was in a government benefit administrative industry that I could give a crap about, but it was work and I needed the money so I worked my butt off for this place. There was this one guy. This huge dweeb that everyone thought was super nice and harmless. So I naturally connected with him. Even asked him if he would be my mentor (have vomit in my mouth now). Big tall gangly red head guy with glasses and wore white and jade striped socks with his business attire. Mistake number 1) I opened up about myself during our many after hour conversations. He prompted me to by expressing some of his weaknesses. To show empathy I let him know about some of mine. One being that I am a huge introvert and get exhausted by being around others for too long and often have a hard time thinking when people begin asking me too many questions for an extended period of time. Then I was told to help him with his heavy work load that he had fallen behind on because he looks and talks a smart game but the guy only see's things in black and white and cannot connect dots outside of his perceived box. At least he pretends to be that way. So over the next two months he is the one assigning me all of my work. He gives me things that are so complicated that managers cannot even figure them out first. I am smart so I do my due diligence and resolve the issue. He is grateful for this and my name begins to spread around the office as a go to guy. I am right in his web now. He has made me well known around the office as either the new guy who has not successfully completed an assignment in the last two months and cannot be relied on, or a guy that everyone can give their highly complex work to. I think he knew I would be the latter and actually preferred this since he realizes that bosses retain people who grow slowly overtime and make noticeable yet minor improvements every week rather than the guy who peeks in the first month or two then burns out. So after this task he gives me more less complicated tasks. I think nothing of it the work needs to be done by someone and its a small office with educated professionals. NO one underneath me. Slowly over time though he begins nitpicking minor little infractions and won't email me any of the assignments he asks me to complete. He will only explain what to do when I come to his desk and from the moment I leave the original instructions somehow become obsolete. He is also able to see what I have open and working on at all times. Because I keep saving my work he sees where I am in it. Like clockwork my assignments keep changing and getting passed onto other people to complete as I get more than half way through them. I cannot get into a grove. I mentioned to him that I work best when I do get in a groove earlier when I thought we were buds. This guy does not understand excel and hardcodes everything and even complains to me once that in one of the assignments he took from me before I could finish it he needed me to just follow the program and do it exactly how it is done and to not focus on efficiency. Of course he tells me this in the conference room behind closed doors without anyone else around. My word against his. He is complaining about me daily to the partner at this point. The partner is not the type to reprimand people as he is a happy go lucky little ball of joy and tries to be the nice guy all the time. Passive aggressive maybe. Anyways I have no idea I am slowly but surely becoming the problem and the scapegoat for the team missing two deadlines with our clients. Chris his name is receiving messy and incomplete work from me when I ask him for something else to work on. He then needs to complete it and cannot understand anything I am doing. He is soon micromanaging me and will not tell me that he is doing that because he has made everyone believe I am struggling to complete things and cannot follow instruction. I am suddenly given the most non detailed mindless work there is. Organizing paperwork and I still cannot get that right. He leaves out certain instructions at first and then comes back and tells me "remember, we need to do this too, remember I said that to you" in a really nice nerdy voice. I say no and he goes well may be I do not remember and walks away. He tells the partners a different story. Suddenly I am unemployable and get fired around the same time this jerk gets his own office. He has convinced management that he has failed this plan because they hired the wrong guy for him to delegate tasks to. He was going to fail anyways as he had zero organizational skills. His directions always vague and could never remember anything. Always getting called out by clients and even told by clients they are dissapointed in him right before I arrived. yes it is all clear to me now. Always ask before joining a company how the current projects and tasks are moving along and ask if I will be assigned any of those for anyone who is struggling to finish something. If they tell you yes and who that person is who is struggling to complete anything you know not to trust that person as they are at risk of losing the job themselves. Fear is the main reason for bullying unfortunately. Like they say, the ones being bullied are usually on partner or exec track from day one. Everyone is excited about them coming on board. Everyone is praising their efforts and work. Meanwhile the losers protected by the overly strict laws that will be enforced if I raise my voice to them or call them outside to take a walk will play semantics games with you to try and get you to lose your temper (look he cannot communicate effectively) and will stab you in the back. There is always a snake in the grass at your org. Figure it out before you try to make friends with anyone.

  43. Here is my situation and I don't have any family anymore in the U.S. or many friends to tell my situation at my work. So at least I can write it here.
    I sit with 4 coworkers in one office. 2 of them are my peers and 2 of them are a level above (but they're not our bosses). About 2 months ago one of my coworkers who is a level above me, let's call him "A" was on the phone with a client. Me and my other peer coworker were saying a joke about "A". while he was on the phone (he also does it all the time and much worse and rude jokes). So I wanted to feel him the same way and let him know how does it feel when he does it to me. "A" heard us and while he was on the phone he said to the client "I tell you this. If I pass you to Martin it won't be done today." That got me mad, because I am the newest guy and still building my reputation among our clients and I do a good job, making our clients happy and satisfied. It also got me mad, because when we make jokes or someone says something inappropriate it always stays within our office. It's our "unwritten rule".
    I didn't say anything and I went to the restroom and he started to yell "We are a team! We are a team!". I couldn't resist and yelled back to him "Then don't tell bullshit about me to our clients if we are a team!". He yelled back "You started!". When I got out from the restroom I didn't say anything, because there was our supervisor sitting in his office with open doors (our supervisor has office right next to our office). He is a down to earth, calm, quiet type of guy and I didn't want to make drama and he didn't say anything.
    Since this incident "A" does not take me out for service calls to our clients anymore and he always takes someone else with him. He always makes rude, cursing comments and inappropriate jokes about me in front of my coworkers to make me feel bad. He has been doing this since I started to work there, not just because of this incident, and, not only to me, also to others. But for some reason he does it to me the most since the beginning. I am mostly quiet guy, polite, trying to concentrate on my job. I do like jokes, but I don't like to use curse words or making fun of someone in front of others like "A" does all the time. The worst thing is that he turned my other coworkers against me so they don't take me out to service calls either like they used to before.
    I haven't told this to anybody, but I am trying to do my job best I can and I go to service calls by myself if they don't want to go with me. If we have any new projects he does not involve me with them. He involves other coworkers with new projects. I don't like this guy since the beginning, because the way how rude he is, how he makes fun of people and insults people left and right. One time a group of people came to our office. One of the lady from the group said "…. I would like to eat now something sweet after my lunch." "A" made a comment "You can lick Tim's chair he's got a sweet ass!". Some people started to laugh, but I could see how the lady felt and I could see that she was insulted. I didn't say anything, I was sad. I don't like "A" because of his personality and rudeness. When someone makes fun of him then he always fights back using even more curse or rude words.
    So far I am just doing my job best I can, going to service calls by myself and trying to read all my emails to keep in touch with projects even without getting hands-on, practical experience in them. I like my job and I don't want to lose it because of this guy.
    I don't know if I should tell about my situation to anyone at work or just keep my job the best I can like I do now. Knowing that my coworkers are not on my side makes me sad and isolated.
    Thank you.

  44. I was bullied by my senior over the last 2 years of my employment. I was his assistant PM.
    I am a good and reliable employee, but eventually my confidence was so shattered, I did not think anything really mattered. They always tried to make me feel stupid, tried to pin failure on me not asking enough questions. When I did ask questions, they were arrogant and condescending. 'Explaining' things poorly with their back turned to me. When something went wrong, they would find anyone to throw under the bus (this would involve cc'ing every higher-up possible to see in a scathing publicly humiliating email). They would put down people with harsh comments during meetings when the person was not present. Be ambivalent about due dates, then blame that person for not delivering on time. One of the biggest things was giving you just enough information to know how to get the job done, but later blame you when it was completed, because it was not how they wanted it. I think it really boiled down to their terrible communication skills, and believe me, I tried many different ways to make it a positive working relationship.

    My coping method was putting up with it calmly and telling my coworker friends and partner about it. My partner did cut me off as a sounding board (about 1 year in), because they grew tired of it. I had no one to talk to about it after that. I started dreading going to work and getting up in the morning.

    Eventually, one day my senior attacked my work ethic in a broadcast email with higher-ups cc'ed. I saw red, the work was ahead of schedule and I was doing my job. I told my team manager. They recommended I do not go to HR about it unless I wanted it to get messy. On their advice, I kept it within management. I was told they were doing something about it, because of multiple complaints made over the years. Management never followed up with me. A month later, they did something even worse and I told him off in the hallway. I never get mad like that. I went back to team management and asked yet again what was going on, their solution was to pull me off every project with them because our relationship was not working. Because of their seniority, that closed doors on a lot of opportunities for me. Honestly, I felt like I was being punished instead. I felt very let down and alone after that.

    So through a series of events, my job tasks went from coordinating programs to data entry. I literally had no responsibility anymore, this led to me getting laid off for having no work. It was crushing. I guess my biggest regret is never going to HR. Management knew they had a problem, but decided to handle it themselves, or they were protecting him and themselves. I'm sure even going to HR would have had a similar result.

    I sympathize with everyone who is bullied. It is not an easy situation, especially when you are just starting your career. If I had to do it again, I am not sure what I would have done differently. It seemed like a no win situation.

  45. I am being bullied by a co worker who also has a clique. She never liked me from the second I met her. I always knew I had to be careful around her from the beginning. She was prickly and unapproachable.We work side by side and it took over a week for her to acknowledge me. That says alot I sussed her from the start. In the end I introduced myself out of civility. Within a short time she would make clever comments or roll eyes at others trying to embarrass me. She took offence easily for things that meant no offence. I couldnt win.

    I stayed as far away from her as possible for 2 years. I had made some workplace friends. I worked hard. was dependable, reliable, punctual. My numbers were within the top set and I cared. I need to earn my own money so my philosophy is, do the job you are paid for as well as you can and go home feeling ok. Work is not my life but it pays for it. I have responsibilty to my employer. At this point I started to work on her days more and thats when I really saw what she was. She would snigger whisper belittle, cruel and cutting, talk about me when I was in the rest room, just a door away. She tried to get others to side with her. Then one day she needed something from me, a member of staff was leaving and it was either her or me on the earlier start, she befriended me, coaxed me around and I fell for it. I gave her a chance in the name of peace and a quiet life (working elbow to elbow) I stopped keeping my distance and bowing away from her meaness and let her be a friend….it took just 3 months for her to intelligence gather, work me out and turn against me. I still dont know what happened or why. I keep a work diary as insurance and the entry said ' I am utterly baffled, I dont know what I have done' The next thing I knew she was friends with people she had bitched about to me, she was not speaking to me hardly. My head was spinning, we were back to the beginning.

    Slowly over another 1.5 yrs she iced me out, I dont exist now. She has her little gang that speak to me lightly when shes around, afraid the alpha will turn on them. I know she is a very vengeful person and in the past I was told she is moody and difficult and jealous. We are around the same age and I can only imagine that she saw me as threat. I dont want to be a bighead but she in her own stubborness and laziness simply shows little interest in the work and is very behind when she shouldnt be. She has though managed to become a favourite based on her attractiveness to the 2 managers she is approx 15 years younger than, she knows how to play these men. In fact as Ive sat subdued Ive listened Ive heard many a reference to playing games and siding with the right side and other phrases that indicate she is a strategist.

    I have several times spoke to a manager about her isolating me, her nasty quips etc yet theyve done nothing. Im starting counselling next week. I am hypersensitive and cant take a joke anymore. I cry on the way home sometimes. The nice coworkers admit to not liking her or noticing her behaviour but they arent in a position to do anything and where would it get them if they did, nowhere.

    She has 4 female siblings all very close born and she wasnt wealthy. I think she was overlooked at some point she doesnt speak well of her parents and being in a circle of women has made her remember the cruelty of her sisters games,possibly, but now shes in charge of a group of females (as gangleader) and shes gone mad. She thinks shes winning or has won but how can you win when you cheat or battle someone that never engaged in battle.

  46. You, guys, are great! Reading through all this (and the prayer I said before 😉 ) helped me address the issue in a nice way to my direct supervisor.
    I was just bullied by one of the people who should actually answer to me. He has been acting as if he was in charge of me (snippy/loud etc.), questioning my very instruction and reacting in a very aggressive manner to any criticism (e.g. the tone you address your boss in) for the last three months.
    Since this employee has some skills (can help with our website), he has been asked to do some extra work for us. Now, he feels superior to everybody (including me: assistant general manager).
    I have brought up this issue already in a written letter to the owner with a copy of the note this employee had left on my desk. His educational background is extremely weak and I can only assume that the job he's having now is probably the best he will ever have (he worked for a fast food chain restaurant before). I wish him well, but do realize that for him to make it up career-wise he sees no other option than to scare off everybody he thinks he can.
    I am pretty just to my employees, give clear directions, don't ask from them anything that I haven't had to do myself at some point in my career, train them properly, give them the opportunity to ask questions without being brushed off, stay out of their private life (unless they need help), keep my private life out of the office, and defend my team when needed by throwing a light on their good skills when their jobs are in danger (everybody is bringing something unique to the table). I do think that I am bossy, but at the same time I work triple as much as they are and still get everything done (even the work nobody else wants to do/problem cases). I thought this is what a good boss has to do. I thought mutual respect would be the key. But…it is not.
    I do think that the owner of our small company plays a big role in it, although he has reassured me multiple times how valuable I am to him and the company. He even gave me the work schedule I wanted to work. At the same time -however- he is the kind of person how spends 100% of his time at work and can't stay out of gossip. He is moody, and if somebody pisses him off, he will talk bad about that person in front of the subordinates, who then feel in a better position/confined in. And it is everybody's time at some point.
    The difference between me and some of the young employees is that I can understand when somebody just needs to get some things of their chest and am not using the information against neither my boss, nor the person he was upset with. I don't think drama should be part of your work environment. However, him trying to make friends with the young ones (around 25-year-olds) hurts me. The only other person in the management is the boss' life partner. So nobody would try to do this with her.
    I have tried talking the the employee directly and went on to my boss after it was clear that nothing would change (I was screamed at). My boss/the owner is not very confrontational and I am sure he wouldn't like to see anyone of us leave.
    With 35 years, I am just not sure what to do anymore to improve the situation other than to look for another job myself.
    Any input is welcome. I would love to learn one or two things from the ones here who have some experience with situations like that.
    My heart goes out to all of you who experience such a toxic environment.

  47. My bully boss just got me fired from my position of almost a year. She and I had known each other from another place of employment, where she was my boss and I was a newbie. She left that position I became the new manager, which I continued for over a year after she left.
    I eventually found out about a new manager position at another place( I wanted to leave my current position because I wasn't being paid near enough)- long story short, the new place found out about my old boss and gave her the manager position I was trying to get and gave me the assistant position. I was actually ok with this tho a little disappointed. However, I think she knew she did me dirty and didn't like having an assistant(she wants to be solely in charge) and she imagined I was hostile towards her and did everything she could to make my life miserable and keep me on guard and walking on eggshells around her.
    She eventually accused me of insubordination, saboutage, etc to the higher ups and we had a "meeting" which was a total farce. She actually made it a big deal that people liked me more than her?!?! Also, she brought up a time when I told her all the things I had accomplished that day(to keep her informed), but she was furious that I said all that in front of the owner. She said this as an accusation. In spite of all that, no one seemed to see how childish and ridiculous her accusations and comments were and I was put on notice.
    The next time there was a problem was over another employee whom had chosen not to interract with her anymore so she blamed me and stated that he was not to come over to our department anymore (he was higher up than both of us, so clearly she could not make that dictate)- i was in shock and went to the higher ups about this and many other issues with her. More meetings where she was allowed to verbally attack me, threaten me, and just basically accuse me of everything she could think of- the HR person did the same (they are friends). I learned later that the bosses "interviewed" several people at work about my manager and learned some really shocking things about her that I didn't even know. Turns out she had been undermining and saboutaging me the whole time. She even screamed at another person on our staff in front of customers and employees that this employee and I had destroyed her and ruined her. Literally screamed at her and followed her while doing it. She was still allowed to stay after this while i was written up for something completely ridiculous. They give her a temporary demotion and then business as usual.
    I knew she was a ticking time bomb- and I was right. She started doing the same old criticizing and nitpicking , and then decided to just stop doing any actual work in our department and let me do it all, while she would pile on more and more. I was getting really frustrated but wasn't about to complain to higher ups because I already knew how that would go. She was being particularly frustrating one day and I accidentally sent a text to her that was meant for a friend saying " I am so over her and this place"- she immediately went to our boss who then called a meeting with HR and another boss- next thing I know, I'm fired.
    She is incompetent, lazy and emotionally unstable-so they got what they deserved.
    I am still really angry, but I have 2 interviews this week so far-

  48. I was hired in a company to work as a programmer.From the first day my coworkers was making fun of me.They didn't talk to me, they avoid eye contact like i was invisible.I should cooperate with them to finish a project but i couldn't because they were spreading rumors for me and i couldn't pretend that everything was fine.At the end of the week the boss wanted to talk to me in his office and he asked me if everything is ok. I told him that is ok but i was very disappointed and sad from their behaviour.He told me that it was my last day and they decided to hire an experienced one.

  49. It's sad that this is a common thing. I got hired 8 months ago and thrown into another boss area. This new bosse's thinks he can cuss at me,have me do heavy labor even though I am not in a labor position.
    He left hasty voice mails not even realizing that he was still on. Whether HR agrees or not,they have to do something about it as I got proof. Someone mentioned HR is not on an employees side. That's only if the HR and that boss are tight. Now days though,with jurors against big companies,etc etc. its actually too easy just win a lawsuit.
    Always document things,and have a camera ready. When I was younger I used to leave without a fight.
    Not this time.

  50. Here is my situation:
    I work for a prison in IT field. Our office is a trailer building, located outside of the fence, not inside the fence where the inmates are kept, but still we are on the "prison grounds". There are only few of us in our office, including our supervisor. My supervisor has been bullying me, bad talking about me to my peer coworkers and manipulating them against me behind my back. It's been like this for 18 months now, since we had a little argument, which was the trigger point. I had a bad experience in my previous job where I was abused by my former supervisor. She was trying to do everything in her power to get me fired (there was a "performance" issue, but it really wasn't. She was known as a bad person and almost went to a court with another employee) and so I found this job where my current supervisor is bullying me and bad talks about me behind my back to my peer coworkers. Through out the time my coworkers were manipulated by him and now they believe all that he says about me behind my back, lies and half-lies, using cursed words, basically telling them that I am a bad person. I am a nice guy, polite, quiet, try to do my job the best and clients like me. My coworkers have been manipulated and they don't work with me anymore together unless they have to. I have been recording all of the bad talks that my supervisor tells them behind my back using my personal recording device. Almost every day, whenever I am out of the office he tells them bullshit about me and on my way home or when I get home I listen to it. For instance, today he told them that he told to our regional manager (my sup. boss who is a nice guy) that I am a defensive most of the time (which is not true, I defend myself only when it is obvious he is picking on me). Also, he told my coworkers about me a confidential stuff that our regional manager told him: "Check this out guys, my regional manager told me that his former boss was abusing him, because when our regional manager was checking his references HR told him that they believed that he was abused." My other coworker said "What???" My supervisor replied "He was like a whipping boy." Then my supervisor kept going on talking about me lies and half-lies to my coworkers, using cursed words as well. I have all of this recorded on a voice recorder. I have recorded all of these bad talks from my supervisor through out 18 months now, even before he became my supervisor. I am documenting what's going on for 18 months now that I witnessed or heard personally, but I don't document the stuff that I record on my voice recorder. Here is why: Can I use my voice recordings to defend myself in this case? Obviously I don't have a consent from anyone to be recorded. Would I get into trouble (loose job, get fired, pay a huge fine, get into jail, etc.) if I use my voice recordings as a prove what's going on behind my back? Would court admit it in this case since I am alone against to all of my other coworkers in our office even without having consent from them to be recorded? I was even thinking to post online all of this shit or put it on a CD and give it to anonymously my regional manager, but I am afraid, because it would be obvious that it came from me, although no one could prove it. Since what I learned from my today's recording should I talk to my regional manager about this? I think if I do then he has to follow up with this and then my secret will be out and the guys will not trust me anymore and I will really have a hell in our office every day. I have very good benefits in this job (retirement, insurance, etc.) and would not like to loose it. I've been working here for almost 3 years now. If I start to look for another job I would feel defeated and they would laugh at me. What's going on is not right and my supervisor should be the one who should get fired, not me. Any advise?
    Thank you.

  51. I am going through all your cycles right now, except I haven't been terminated (yet) LOL. There is a veteran inappropriate employee in my department that HR will not get rid of for fear of a lawsuit, so she is essentially allowed to takeover and act as horribly as she wants, despite people constantly making HR complaints and subsequently quitting w/ no notice. I always tried to remain friendly with her since she was so horrible (wow, the irony in that statement), but we of course had a falling out due to her inappropriateness, and now she does this thing where she gives the silent treatment, and tries to pretend as if I don't exist- yet clearly she knows where I am and does know I exist. She now purposely comes by my area several times a day, which she never came by my area when we were on good terms, and is loud, obnoxious and overly-friendly w/ others while she ignores me. I think HR told her to not stand so close to my area, but besides that, she still comes over as much as she can, and follows me around but will not directly address me. I am obviously looking for another job, but this woman is severely mentally ill- it's been difficult to handle it. She also gossips/goes on rants excessively, everything is behind-the-back- she has now somehow influenced another co-worker to not speak to me. It just sucks.

  52. Thanks for this. I feel like this is happening to me, but I'm just sticking to SOP and corporate best practices on the things I'm getting criticised for, my managers and team leader have told me to stick to that. I've got sick time, and I'm thinking about calling out tomorrow as I just don't want to deal with this crap for my next whole shift. I've been with the place for a year and just now feel like I'm getting a hang of everything I need to know to effectively perform my job, and am getting recognized for it, other than the one person, there isn't a coworker I don't like and I have respect for everyone there, but this is causing me no small amount of anxiety feeling like I have nothing I can report to the superiors.

  53. Hello.
    Really glad i came across this..heres my story.
    I started with this company 16yrs ago as a broom boy.During the years i got my trade and moved my way up the ladder as people moved on or were promoted.
    About 6yrs ago they hired a worker who they were warned was a bully. so much so in his previous employment he was moved to a room on his own to stop him attacking the other workers.
    Anyhow.. first couple of years were fine other than the odd argument.
    But then it started..He would target new guys. First it was just your doing it wrong(weather they were or not didnt matter it was his way or no way).
    At the time i was the factory foreman where my roll was to keep the production flow going and the training of new staff. So this gave me the opportunity to approach him about the workers concerns. All went well he took things on board and thing came right..for awhile.
    Then i was promoted again. this time to factory manager.
    Now i was responsible for hiring new staff and dealing with staff issues..WELL!!!
    within weeks of hiring new staff, they and other senior staff approached me about this guy being a bully. My gosh i had no idea what had been going on( i guess due to me being the boss he would be fine when i was around). he would isolate workers away from other workers when he wanted to bully.
    The workers would come to me with their concerns and i would try and deal with the issues.
    But this bugger would play the game of by-passing me and going to the GM. So by the time i went to the GM with my findings it didn't matter because he had already planted the seed the worker was wrong and he was right. I told the GM that this was not the correct procedure and that he should have stayed out of it until i had tried to resolve it.
    So he tried to resolve it by kicking me out of my office and putting my work station in the middle of the factory floor so he couldn't run a muck . A sign i at least saw as them acknowledging there was an issue with this guy.
    5mths into this nothing had changed.. so i would sneak around and try to catch him out when he isolated staff members.. Well 2 weeks ago i got him. He told a worker he wanted something done and to do it this way..Low and behold he told him to do the complete opposite way to what it should. I let the worker do it the way the bully told him to(thinking ahh finally i can get ya).
    But the worker himself questioned if this was the right way..The bully of course said yep go for it.
    The bully then came back to the worker an hour later and said you have done it wrong and to "fark off".
    the worker came to me said what had happened and that he felt set up.. knowing what i already knew i agreed and said yep you sure did.
    Now with this and the info i had overheard i approached the GM and said we can't carry on like this.
    Well bugger me the bully had already been and seen the GM about it all and as far as both were concern the worker was wrong and needed disciplined. Like hell!! i stood up for the worker and said what had happened and i wasnt going to let it go.. HE SET HIM UP i said and that is bulling in a serious way.
    The next day i was called into the GM office and asked what did i think should happen. At the very least i thought a written warning would suffice and let him know that we are on to his bulling.
    Anyhow 2 days later I'm again in the GM office and told that i'm carrying to much stress and that some of my roles would be spread around to others(yes including the bully).
    Of cause i got up in arms and said that that was sooo not right "you have now given power to the bully.
    I was then pushed into a corner of the factory and cut off from all info.
    Since then i have had this awful feeling in my gut.. last night i finally came to the conclusion it was guilt.
    guilt that i knew a worker was being bullied and the company ignored it and backed up the bully.
    along with the guilt i believe part of the feeling was that for me this didnt sit well with my own personal ethics and morals.
    So went in today and resigned on the spot..informed them that they have now made it untenable for me to carry on in the company when this is their ethics as they don't conform to mine..
    Bit of a ramble i know but had to vent.

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