Professional Bullies Are Real. Stop Those Jerks Too
When there are people in your life who continue to bully you, block you from achieving your goals, who seem to take pleasure in your failures and rage when you succeed, all of these high-minded people remind you to never sink to their level.
These folks are apathetic to your cause and it’s the right thing to say.
Higher minded people take it a few steps further and psychoanalyze the person and tell you that these people are over compensating for what’s lacking in their life, and for whatever reason you represent or remind them of what’s wrong with them.
The very awesome book that I recommend to everyone called “The Four Agreements” calls all of this not taking stuff personally.
Don’t take people’s negative attitudes, their rejection of you or your ideas, or what seems to be a real dislike of you and anything about you personally.
They may even say, “you are ugly,” “you are stupid,” “you can’t do that.” But when people lash out on you, it really isn’t about YOU. It’s about their baggage and their stuff and their hurts from the past. It’s a deep thing to accept, when folks are saying YOU and using your name and then bashing you to others.
I’m talking about all of this because there is a woman on my job who I’ve had serious problems with over the years. At one point she was my supervisor, and that’s when things got horribly bad.
And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. She seemed to pounce on me even more when my engagement ended. She’s even waved her hand in my face a month after my relationship ended bragging about a new ring her husband gave her. She said, “I know you are going through what you are going through, but you’re still a woman and we like shiny things.” She was delighted to add, that she knew my world had fallen apart, so let me flaunt my ring and my husband and my marriage.
And anytime I tried to pick myself up, apply for a fellowship or come up with a new and exciting idea to pull me out of the funk, there she was trying to shoot it all down. She went as far as making a bootleg version of my idea and trying to present it, and compete with me, to the point of interrupting my meetings and even asking if her version was better than mine.
Everyone in the room was shocked. But I felt fine. She showed how ridiculous she was and this act helped me solidify my case.
I was fixated on this woman. I had anxiety everyday over this person because I felt like she was always watching me, and always wanting to see my downfall.
The back story is this woman, I think really wanted to be close friends with me and because she was older, thought she should be my mentor. When I basically wanted to keep things professional and had boundaries with this woman, I think it offended her.
But after I pulled back some layers, I realized she was a sad, sad person. But she’s horribly prideful and has a tendency to be bossy, smug and not very nice to people. She was always posturing to show people how smart and capable she was.
As adults often say to children, bullies operate in keeping you silent. And the same was here. She was a bully. Plain and simple.
She’s a small woman, plain, and she didn’t even have super impressive credentials, but she knew how to manipulate people and situations where people would give her what she wanted to shut her up or not be bothered with her.
The day I finally stealthily built my case against her, I went to see the big boss. After hours. The boss basically told me they valued me as a worker and that no one should work under the conditions I was working under. They removed this person as my supervisor, and moved my desk to the other side of the building. My big boss said that I should not have suffered so long, and I should have spoken up sooner, but I handled the entire situation with class and dignity.
Since then, I’ve been able to grow and blossom and change titles and get raises. Since then, she’s had some professional humbling experiences. I never delighted in them though, but cosmic justice was being served.
Yesterday, this same nemesis came to my desk and smugly asked me why I had a personal mission statement and why I had it hanging in my cubicle.
She was also interrupting yet another lunch at my desk, so this vexed me even more.
But calmly, I told her it reminded me of what’s important to ME. I wanted to tell this chick, why don’t you have one?
I realized after that this woman had no vision. She’d already resigned her life to what it was and she didn’t like that I liked myself, or that I had ideas, or that I had a life outside of this job. She’s married and has two beautiful children, however, she’s a hollow person. And there are rumors of her husband actually being gay. To make matters worse, she makes jokes that he is more effeminate.
So, yes. I feel bad for her. I’m sad that she hasn’t done the self work to find her self-worth, or she hasn’t found out that she doesn’t have to snuff out my light to make her dull ass light appear to shine brighter.
Nothing about this woman strikes me as genuine and real. She’s always scheming and trying to figure out how to stay ten steps ahead of everyone and this woman, in one period of my work life spread her poison to me. She refuses to let her self be real, or vulnerable, which is essential to living a better life.
I’m thankful to be free of it, and to see her for what she truly is.
She bristles at my confidence and tries to cut it short. I did let her get to me a bit yesterday, and then I realized, I know myself now, better than I did when she was bullying me, and I proved to both her and myself she could not bully me anymore and from that point on, things only got better for me.
I like using the word bully, because we associate it with kids and teenagers. Bully, bully, bully…I’m singing the song.
We need to lift the veil off of the everyday grown bullies sucking up coffee rather than Capri Sun, or sitting spreading their poison in your carpool. This crap is not healthy. This crap is not simply “competition,” and survival of the fittest. We need healthy, whole people working to make our products and services better and we need work cultures that promote that concept and expose the foolishness.
We need to talk about the folks who publicly shame you if you didn’t buy five boxes of their kids girl scout cookies. We need to shame the idea stealers, the credit takers and the folks who play mental professional warfare with us every single day.
Human resource folks need to take the time out and discuss workplace and professional bullying. It will make people take sick days, it will make people drink after work, it will make folks come home and bring that negativity to the house, it will ruin relationships. It may make people take their own lives, or finally lash out on the bully. My ex told me he hated that I talked about this woman every day and it was ruining his day and it impeded me from even asking about his day or listening to him if he had a rough day.
So I’ma call it what it is. We have grown folk bullies running rampant in our workplaces, who seem to believe that everyday they are on Survivor or the Apprentice and that it has to be them or you. Do not accept that crap, and don’t get sucked into playing their game. Call it what it is and get folks to address it. You are not crazy, you are being bullied, and no you are not too old, and don’t let your age shame you into silence. Bullying unlike Trix, ain’t just for kids.
So just because it isn’t taking place on the playground or the locker room, it’s in a corner office at a Fortune 500 company, in the mailroom or in cubical land, or a hair salon, or an auto shop or even in academia. IT’S BULLYING.
People, we got work bullies. Grown ass folks who should know better doing the bullying and grown ass folks who know better and know what it is taking the bullying. We have to stop it here too.
And if you are a popular person at work, and you see someone else getting “picked” on, reach out to that person and help them stand up. You don’t think that now that we are grown these behaviors don’t hurt any less? Get out of here.
Growing up doesn’t mean you lose feelings as you age. We just train ourselves to stifle them even more.