Friday, October 06, 2017

Be Honest: Are You the Office Bully?

From Entrepreneur magazine:

Last year [Ross McCammon] was a guest on an NPR call-in talk show to discuss workplace etiquette. Most calls were about shaking hands, conducting meetings, asking for a raise...

It was light and funny until one caller asked for advice about being shunned by her co-workers. They would gather near her desk, talking about work she was involved in without asking her to weigh in. They never invited her to lunch or after-work drinks. When she brought up her feelings, her colleagues dismissed and mocked her. She felt unimportant and ostracized. And she sounded deeply distressed.

I felt ill-equipped to answer the question. I stammered out a reply. I made a joke. (She didn't laugh.) The show's host suggested that she record these instances and, if they continued, alert a supervisor. The host labeled the behavior as “bullying.” Which at first struck me as infantilizing.

I hadn't felt bullied since middle school.

And I certainly had never felt bullied at work. And I certainly had never bullied anyone at work. (Note: Never believe anyone who uses italics to deny something.)

Or had I? The major problem with the word bullying is that it seems more tied to the playground and, these days, social media (which is a metaphorical playground)... But what about rolling your eyes every time a colleague speaks in a meeting? Gossiping? Raising your voice? The things we've all been guilty of doing?

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