Every office has a bully.
The problem is, the work bully is not easily distinguishable because he or she comes in so many forms. The bully can be donning all black with combat boots and piercings, or can be dressed head to toe in designer labels.
I know this because I dealt first-hand with an office bully. Let me tell you, it did not go in my favor.
Unfortunately, because of my initial goofy demeanor when I first started the job (it was my first corporate gig right out of college), my boss failed to see the evil person my work bully truly was. The bully's cunning, manipulative attitude skewed my boss' view, and I was screwed.
Yet, fortunately enough, I can help others deal with the work bully. Below are some tips to use so you won't get squished under their designer shoes.
1. Don't become instant best friends with anyone.
If the work bully is as sneaky as mine was, he or she will try to act like your friend. They'll invite you to dance classes, gleefully brag to coworkers about your time spent out of work together and maybe even give backhanded compliments.
Don't be fooled; this person has no good intentions for you. They are acting as such, so when they do insult you or stab you in the back, you will think twice about blaming them.
Of course, don't walk around paranoid. Just be sure not to tell anyone too many secrets right away. Trust your gut; if something seems off, it most likely is.
2. They're probably trickier than you think.
To an extent, you can't outsmart the office bully. It's not for a lack of competence on your end, or simple intelligence for that matter. It's just because the office bully is prepared.
Most likely, they have acted like this before, and will do it again. He or she knows exactly how to lie and cover up for themselves, and even has a back-up plan when the initial back-up plan doesn't work.
The best thing to do in this scenario is simply to observe. Don't try to outwit the bully unless you are fully equipped and experienced to do so, grasshopper. And, most importantly, don't ever reveal any personal details about yourself outside of work. Personal details, no matter how minute, are your weak spot, and will be used against you.
3. Don't fight back.
If you fight back, the bully will only fight back harder, because that's all he or she knows how to do. What's worse is if this person has seniority over you, like my work bully had. They will probably have the boss wrapped around their finger.
In fact, this person may even run to the boss and tell their side of the story, making you look like the bad guy. They will even act extra nice to you during meetings and in public so that your supervisor and boss side with them and ask you to get along.
To avoid all this, let the petty work bully argue all they want. Simply ignore them and get your work done. You don't have time for that dumb sh*t, anyway.
4. You must document everything.
Keep all correspondences via email to avoid the whole “he said, she said" scenario. If the bully insists on doing something verbally, persist by saying you need it in an email for your organizational purposes, or an excuse to that effect. This way, if they try to jeopardize your work or throw you under the bus, you have hard core evidence suggesting something other than what they say.
Plus, it'll make you look more like you're trying to keep your relationship professional.
5. The bully is insecure.
This may come as a surprise to those who deem their bully as a hard, cold person, but it's the truth. The work bully is being a bully to you because they see you as a threat. Whether it's your intelligence and contributions in meetings, or your friendliness and popularity in the other departments, you should feel proud of yourself.
This bully wants what they doesn't naturally have.
Case in point: My gut feeling about my work bully was true. This person felt lost at work, wanted to get a new job and was unsuccessful in doing so for over two years. One would probably think this is the part where I felt sorry for this person. Alas, I did not.
The point of my mini exposé is this: Don't think the work bully has everything, because more often than not, they don't. They are the type of person who is so miserable inside that he or she wants to bring others down with them -- especially the happy ones.
Don't let their insecurities diminish your happiness, and keep holding your head high. You won't have time for petty people in your successful future, anyway.