When we think of bullying, often it is overt, obvious displays of harassment, abuse and maltreatment that come to mind. But this is not always the case.
I experienced ongoing workplace bullying for years at my previous workplace and, in my situation, it looked significantly different.
I was bullied by a female member of staff. She was slightly more experienced than me in our roles, by two or three years. But it was when she was appointed to a leadership position that it all started, and it made me go from absolutely loving my job to absolutely hating it.
How to spot a psychopath in the workplace. (Post continues below.)
I had worked in my role for about two years, I had many great friends and I was flourishing. For those first two years, I had little to do with Kerry*; we worked in different offices. Then she became my ‘sort of’ manager. I had to seek her approval for ordering equipment, materials and resources I required. We began working in the same space, we had meetings every week and had to conduct events together. At first it was fine. But slowly, when I contributed my ideas, or suggested changing anything, or raised any issues I had, Kerry began to change.
Kerry’s actions were often not really obvious things, it was subtle and manipulative. She misused her power and authority to make my job harder, and that behaviour became more frequent over time.
I remember once I was at my desk in our shared office. I was watching a video clip that was a part of the task I was doing; the sound was very low. Kerry stormed over, literally huffing and puffing, reached over me and turned the sound off. “This is too loud,” she said to me at the top of her voice in front of about ten other staff members. I was completely shocked and embarrassed.
Many of Kerry’s actions were observed by other staff members, who commented to me that what Kerry was doing was not okay. They would tell me that “she is threatened by you”, “It is because you are young and full of great ideas”. They tried to explain why she was doing this but really it didn’t matter to me why; I just wanted it to stop.
The bullying grew from smaller incidents to larger ones. Kerry began denying me materials and resource orders that were necessary for me to complete my job and failed to tell me important information for events and meetings to make me appear incompetent.