The Work Bully

Ever wonder what happened to the school bully? Did he or she grow up and change his/her ways? Or, did they turn into the work bully?

Being bullied at work was a subject on today’s “Good Morning America.” The bully usually being the boss. Instead of knocking you against your cubicle for your lunch, they make you feel incompetent and worthless. Usually the employee suffers in silence, becoming more and more anxious and stressed at work.

My husband worked for a bully. He spent about a year working at an architecture firm, doing the best job he could, trying to avoid conflict with a boss who just couldn’t be pleased. It eventually made him sick to his stomach. He loathe driving to work each morning and even started to suffer from depression because of it. Thankfully he got the hell out of there, and now works for a great bully-free firm.

Although this was a case of a male bully. In most instances it’s women targeting other women. According to and a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute:

While men tend to target men and women employees equally, women bosses are likely to aim their hostility toward other women more than 70 percent of the time.

Remember Miranda in “The Devil Wears Prada?” I don’t care how great the clothes were in that film–watching it made me so uncomfortable and stressed out! It’s unfortunate when you have a nasty boss, especially when it’s a woman. You’d think women at work would ban together and have a mutual understanding. That a female superior would be a mentoring figure. Not a demeaning, power-hungry you-know-what. Don’t get me wrong–I know this world is full of wonderful women managers. And I hope this statistic doesn’t overshadow them at all.

So what was the advice to those being bullied at work? Stop avoiding it and deal with it. Go to higher management and let them know about the situation. That takes a lot of guts. And in my opinion, usually by the time someone realizes they can’t take the bully anymore–it’s already too late. The employee already has one foot out the door.

Have you been bullied at work? How did you handle the situation? Or, do you have a great female supervisor?

10 thoughts on “The Work Bully

  1. I’ve more experienced that kind of thing with co-workers – women who went out to lunch together and very conspicuously didn’t invite me, men and women who tried to undercut and sabotage my work or take credit for my successes. Thankfully, these people were few and far between.

    Interestingly enough, my bullying bosses were all men. And rather than try to fix the problem, I just found a better job. When a higher up asked why I was leaving, I was honest about how I’d been treated. They made me an offer to stay but it was too little too late. This was ages ago, though. I’ve been lucky to work with many awesome supervisors, male and female, since!

  2. I think this really proves that you never, truly ever leave the playground. I have had bosses that ruled with an iron fists who would alternate between praising and condemning me. I have had bosses who gave me Hell for rejecting their sexual advances. I’ve had incompetent bosses. I’ve had them all.

  3. Felicia - I complete Me says:

    I worked for a bully. It was so hard and upsetting. I mean I was getting ripped a new one because I paid bills on time. I only lasted about 3 months at that job and I haven’t looked back since.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My boss acted bipolar – she’d be happy with my performance one day and the next, she’d tear me a new one. I made it two years before quitting without a back-up plan. Devil Wears Prada reminded me of her, definitely.

  5. Robyn - Who's the Boss? says:

    I worked for a bully once — although I didn’t realize it until after I left. She would berate me privately, drop lies to others about my work, and made going to work a literal hell for me.

    I chose not to share my reasons for leaving when I did leave. I was a high performing employee and the executive management was surprised that I’d leave. But I just couldn’t bring myself to explaining why I could not longer work at the company or for that woman. I figured anything I said would be written up as a bitter employee. She was close personal friends with our VP – I figured he would automatically take her side. After I left, I realized she got exactly what she wanted. Her biggest threat (me) was gone and she could continue to be the queen of the department.

  6. I have a work bully, she’s a woman and bullies everyone! She’s horrible and I wish that I could forward this article to her. She makes me cringe just thinking about her, she is miserable and unhappy and wants to make sure that everyone else is too.

  7. I love this post! I’ve definitely had some work bully bosses–both male and female. Even bully co-workers!

    I just remember what my mom told me about bullies when I was young. Their “bulliness” most likely stems from their own insecurities, and they might even be a little jealous. So, it helps sometimes to remember that, but not always!

  8. meauxjeaux says:

    i worked for a bully who wasn’t just my boss but also a co-owner, so i didn’t really have anyone to go to. this person was bi-polar, in my non-professional opinion, loved to hide behind crappy emails and wasn’t talented, so the only thing i learned from him was how not to manage people.

    my favorite memory is of him emailing me to go to his office to talk about a problem only to find out he wasn’t even in the office.

    the worst thing about the whole experience is that i let him get to me and negatively effect my self-esteem to the point where it actually altered my take-no-crap-off-anyone personality. which makes me disappointed in myself for letting him get to me because i know i’m better than he is. don’t let those turkeys get you down, ladies! they’re not worth it.

  9. OK, meauxjeaux, I just laughed aloud in my cube. That is priceless! Making him go to your office when he wasn’t even there?!

  10. Yeah, I’m not sure what the solution is to a bully, other than confronting him/her or higher management or leaving the job altogether.

    If the bully is effecting other people at work, maybe you can ban together and go to higher management as a group. (That is, if the bully isn’t higher management.) Keep a documented record of instances to help you look as you’re just not complaining, but examples of why this bully is effecting your productivity and the moral of other co-workers.

    You got to take care of yourself! Don’t let the bully beat you down until it’s too late.

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