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workplace bullying(16 Posts)
star, I was bullied by a woman I worked with in the admin bit of a social services office (a temping job I did straight after college - so I didn't exactly 'fit in' with the existing workers!). She used to humiliate me in front of the younger, giggly girls and once actually hit me over the head with one of those cardboard tubes you send posters through the mail in. yes, it hurt, but it was much more about her invading my personal space and making me look silly in front of others. I used to cry a lot and kept very much to myself at work, working hard to shut out the snide comments. In the end a boss overheard some comment from this girl and I officially complained about her. She eventually said sorry to me - she was having problems with her marriage and had taken out her frustration on me as I was a convenient target. I'll never forget it, every morning I had an all-encompassing dread of going into work.
I saw an awful example of this in the place I used to work (one of the reasons I went freelance after having ds, rather than returning to my old company). The boss's wife was the Finance Director, and had as an accounts clerk a lady of about 55 who she bullied constantly. The poor woman was too scared to do or say anything because she had come to believe that she was totally useless and would never find another job. She had some weeks off because she had to have a hysterectomy, and the Finance Director made her make up her sick leave time by working on Saturdays once she returned to work (which surely couldn't have been legal, but her poor victim had become so scared of her that she did whatever this woman demanded).
She tried to bully us too, but luckily in my department we had a very strong mutual support network and an immediate boss who stood up for us.
I was on the other end - accused of bullying. I was supposed to be training her and I'd only been in the job a year so was fumbling my own way thro things. I thought I was trying to be helpful and explain everything and was told I was arrogant and supercilious. I invited her when we went out at lunch time when we went out. I was never rude to her, or hassled her about getting work done or degratory and tried finding pieces of work where she'd done well but she just took everything I said the wrong way. She was very clever and read too much into every situation. She didn't turn up to work on day, and when she phoned she just wanted to speak to my boss (our tema leader being off sick). Then I went on holiday and she returned and went straight to my boss. Fortunately I met a friend who told me before I went back in the office. I went to my boss and asked if xxx was ok, and then he told me the accusations (ok I had to look up supercilious).Then we all had a meeting and my boss was trying to mediate and get her to see things from 'my side' but she was so worked up she wasn't listening and literally twisting things around. And the accusations were different this time around. She was given a few days to think things over then it ws christmas. Ruined my christmas beacuse I was worrying about everything , and decided i was going to get another job by easter. My boss had a chat with the the other team leader who was in our office (mine still being off sick) And they defended me and said I wouldn't hurt a fly. But it was a very horrible month after the first accusations, and in the end the other person literally left on night and never came back. xx had also left her previous job because she'd been 'forced out' but I wonder if the same thing had happened there. Work did have proper procedures and a month later produced a leaflet which my colleagues thought was hillarious to plaster my desk & pc with whilst I was out at lunch. and then they had great fun in taunting the next trainee about how long her predecessor had survived (the next trainee and me are still friends 4 years on) But thinking over previous jobs it's a very fine line that divides taking the mickey and bullying/sexism/fatism/racism. and what it boils down to is how the person views it. But I agree no-one should feel they are being bullied and hate the idea of going to work.
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as most of you probably know, i moved over 300 miles recently to the south of england and started a new job. i hate my boss, he picked up on every little thing - and i knew it was all power play as i had not long done a course on dealing with powerful people! anyone who knows me knows i am not the kind of person to lie back and rake it, we have been in financial dire straits before and so i am never afraid of giving up my job and being in that position ( we rent and so am lucky enough to consider quality of life in my decision making processes) I sat down with him in supervisions and asked HIM to prioritise my work as he obviously didnt think i was capable of it, but he just talked and talked and never pinned himself down to anything, now i am being paid what i consider to be a decent wage..... the man wouldnt even let me produce a poster for the parent and todler group i manage.... i wanted to kill him... eventually it came to a head and he was putting my work down yet again and complaining about communicvation issues ( this is the man who pisses off to lunch for 2 hours and you never know where he is) so i told him i couldnt communicate with him in any effective way becuase he scared me....... at that moment i could have knowcked this robbie coltrane look a like over with a feather! he was very Taken aback and since this i havent had as much crap from him......... i think as obscene as this sounds it is all about how i manage him.... he will say things like good morning ... i will reply ... well it it now i have seen you.. which will make him laugh... of course i hate him but using these methods makes it asier for me to get through the day .... and the best thing is i have only been there 4 months and i have found a better paid job and a considerable better career move.. and i havent told him yet ... so the last supervision .. i let him pick at everything and sat there "thinking carry on sh*t head cos you are so F****ked cos i am off!!!! hhhhaaaaaaa!"
(scuse the language! sorry)
ps sorry bout spelling mistakes somat good on telly i wanna watch !!
sobernow - I'm probably taking this the wrong way and i agree with you, senior management shouldn't mickey take/tease. But I never reached senior management and I didn't tease or mickey take my trainee. I was very formal And I think that was one of the things I felt so bad about was that I was genuinely trying to help her settle in and train her. I never mickey/take/joke around unless I know that person very well.
custardo - forgot to say - congrate on the new job. tell us how they take your resignation
helenmc - a couple of years ago I was working in a small software team, and a new person joined. No-one was assigned responsibility for introducing her to the project, so I took in upon myself to try and make her feel at home by explaining where to find documentation, how various bits already written worked etc. She would listen to what I had to say in total silence, and at the end, she would say "Thank you" as though it had been forced out of her, leaving me feeling like a chattering fool.
I did this a couple of times, because I felt it's very bad for the project to have someone sitting there trying to understand stuff that the rest of us all know, and she never asked a single question off her own bat. In the end, she so obviously took everything I said the wrong way that I stopped going out of my way to help her. She then proceeded to code her part of the project in such a way that it wouldn't integrate with everyone else's stuff!! Sometimes people just don't like you on sight, and you can't help them.
I also did a temp job in a company with the most horrendous bullying manager, who was loathed by all her juniors, and notorious as a bully throughout the entire company. She was particularly prone to issuing cutting tellings off in front of the entire office, even about things that were not her particular concern. She also insisted that each person was allowed only one biro at a time out of the stationary cupboard, and she read all incoming emails to the company to be sure that nobody was using company email for private correspondence (it wasn't a v technological company)! On my last day, I cornered her in the loos and told her that she was behaving like a jumped up parlour maid, which hit home because she was v proud of having worked her way up to a middle management job with no qualifications whatsoever. She went straight upstairs and complained to the MD, I was immediately asked to leave. I twisted the company's tail for another year, writing letters of complaint to ever higher managers. The company backed her to the hilt and even threatened to call the police for what they called my threatening behaviour towards her. It was a shoddy sort of company, and the whole ethos of the management was very poor. In the end, I got them to have a full internal enquiry, which I am happy to think highlighted the whole issue, but guess what, they concluded that she was totally innocent and a valued employee!
What a dreadful experience for you Sml. We had an horrendous bully where I work who was thankfully made redundant last year.
She joined as a Secretary but quickly appointed herself "Business Manager". She took an incredibly large number of sick days (an average of 30%) but if anybody else was ever ill, late or had a long lunch she would go straight to the boss. At times, if you questioned her on anything however minor, she would literally scream abuse at you. On my day off (Friday), she would routinely call me at home at 7.30am on some ludicrous pretence and if I ever went to the supermarket I would return home with a knot in my stomach as it was not uncommon to find 8 - 10 messages from her on my answerphone. On 3 occassions she insisted I come into work on my day off and naturally, having panicked and managed to arrange childcare cover I would arrive to find there was absolutely no reason for me to be there.
She posisoned the boss against a number of staff and even ensured that a senior trader lost his job. Senior management knew full well what a dreadful person she was but of course they were all scared of her (and her incessant threats of legal action). Huuman Resources had at least 10 official complaints made against her but they did nothing. The day she was made redundant ranks up there as one of the happiest days of my life although sadly a number of much-liked colleagues were also made redundant the same day.
Oh and that senior trader took legal action and won a settlement big enough to ensure he now doesn't need to worry about working!.
You started one here, Star, and no mistake. This kind of behaviour is much commoner than you would guess judging from the comments on this thread.
An appalling senior member of staff at my workplace was finally let go this summer after using inappropriate body language, offensive personal remarks and bullying tactics to cause stress-related illness in a number of junior colleagues. I was one of his targets and I really don't want to say any more than that other than that I was so pleased when I heard action had finally been taken, a matter of days before I wanted to start making plans for maternity leave, that I burst into tears - not something I normally do at work. The thought of this person's response to my maternity leave, and how this would have impacted on my team during my absence as well, had been giving me insomnia.
I am not at all surprised that this kind of thing leads to suicide.
Sobernow - really no offence taken, I'm just being prickly. You're right good intentions are often misunderstood. But how do you avoid that?
ALso are women worse at this - men normally come straight out with abuse but women I think are more to make the catty comments ...what does everu-one else think?
Actually, Bells, I didn't mind that much. It would have bothered me more had I let her get away with it! My final letter to the director in charge of the inquiry contained a frank, detailed and mocking criticism of his handling of the whole affair, and I cc'd it widely, including to his boss! I then phoned the only one of my ex-colleagues who I thought I could inspire to similar action, but he had already left the rotten company. I think it is important to give as good as one gets, because then the bully might think twice about bullying next time.
Your ex Secretary sounds dreadful! I wonder whose lives she is poisoning now. Your story reminds me of a terrible bully I knew, not at work, but living in a village adjacent to where I grew up. She managed to get rid of the vicar, the village school teacher and the incumbant Conservative local councillor by poisoning people against them. In an Agatha Christie novel, she would have been discovered slain in the churchyard, and Miss Marple would have picked through the hundreds of likely suspects to solve the murder!
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