SIGNS YOU’RE BEING BULLIED AT WORK
Photo by Viktor Gladkov | Canva
Have you ever felt like you were being unfairly picked on at work? Workplace interaction can be a nightmare! You want to be approachable and get on with everyone, and you want to stay professional. The trouble is, workplaces can often turn into a breeding ground for fallouts, passive-aggressive behavior, and sometimes all-out bullying—something you thought you’d left in the playground all those years ago!
And it’s more common than you might think…
A survey by the Workforce Bullying Institute found 27% of respondents had direct experience with abusive conduct at work, either past or present. So, how do you know if you’re being bullied? If you’re not sure, here are 11 key signs that you’re being bullied at work:
1. You’re being outcast, alienated, ignored, or excluded
Most of us have felt excluded at some point. But what if you feel like that all the time? Being treated like an outcast at work and being excluded on purpose is a clear sign of covert bullying. Maybe others in your team get preferential treatment…they get first pick of all the best projects and on-the-job perks…
Meanwhile, you make requests and they’re denied for no reason. If you’re being purposely ignored or excluded from everything, this can make you feel rubbish, and it’s bullying!
2. You are excluded from progress, promotion, or training opportunities
You go to work to progress and succeed, right? So, what happens when someone blocks you from training opportunities and promotions for no good reason? Choosing to hinder your chances of success can be another type of bullying. Your boss might deny you the chance to progress or give all the great projects to someone else.
3. You’re never invited to lunch or meetings
Do the rest of your team go out to lunch without you? Or do they hold secret meetings that you only find out about later? Yes, this really does sound like something from a school playground. But it happens more than you might think. No one likes to be left out. Because of this, isolating tactics can often be used by bullies to make you doubt yourself and make you feel low. They might even go as far as excluding you from social events and outings—even mailing lists!
4. Your work is constantly and publicly criticized
Everyone faces criticism sometimes—and most of us don’t like it. However, if this criticism is non-stop and public, it’s often a sign of bullying. Maybe you’re being bombarded with excessive put-downs and micromanaging, this could be a way of making you doubt yourself. You might start to feel like your colleagues don’t trust you, which can massively affect your performance.
5. You’re removed of duties without reason
Do you feel like your boss doesn’t trust you? We all have run-ins with our boss, but if yours is unfairly removing you from duties or overbearingly supervising you without reason, this could be another sign of bullying. As this is often subtle, it can be hard to pinpoint—your boss might claim it’s a “change of direction,” or something similar. But if it keeps happening, you need to take action. An example of this could be changing goals and objectives of a project you’re working on without warning, disregarding any work you’ve done, and then giving the project to someone else.
6. Your boss or coworkers yell at you
Sometimes, when bosses and coworkers yell and shout we write it off—“they’re just being tough,” “they just want results, they must be under a lot of pressure.” But bullying and aggressive shouting and name-calling shouldn’t be written off—especially if it happens all the time. You shouldn’t be afraid to make suggestions or disagree with someone in case they start yelling!
7. Every decision you make is called into question
Of course, you know your decisions may be questioned—and that’s sometimes a good thing. But when it’s every decision you make, this is a bullying tactic used to undermine your work. By undermining your skills, ideas, achievements, and abilities, you begin to question yourself. It lowers your confidence and this can have a huge impact on your performance.
8. False rumors about you are being spread
In a work environment, it’s easy for cliques to form, and this can inevitably lead to gossip. It’s a type of gang mentality. Bullies will often use this to spread rumors about you. They want to make you look bad, so they gossip about you—your appearance, your abilities, even your personal life. This can be incredibly hurtful, and because it’s indirect, can be hard to prove. That’s why it’s so important to be aware.
9. Co-workers avoid interacting with you
Picture this: all of a sudden, you’re excluded from meetings you once attended, no one will invite you to team events, excuses are made. When your co-workers stop interacting with you, it can be confusing and troubling. It’s also difficult to navigate and can often lead to alienation, low self-esteem, and even declining physical and mental health. This type of bullying can take its toll. And it’s something you need to be aware of! Purposely excluding someone is unprofessional—and it’s totally unacceptable.
10. You experience verbal abuse
Verbal abuse is serious. It can include anything from making snide remarks and unfair criticisms to shouting, swearing, and name-calling. If someone is belittling you by using abusive language, this may be passed off as a joke. But it’s not. Verbal bullying is 100% not okay, as has no place in a work environment—or anywhere else!
11. You experience sexual harassment and sexual comments
Lastly, if you’re experiencing any type of sexual harassment, this is a sure sign of bullying. It could be anything from inappropriate comments to sexual advances. Whether blatant or subtle, you don’t need to tolerate this type of behavior! You don’t need to feel bullied and intimidated at work.