Unlike the bullying that we may have witnessed throughout middle school and high school, bullying in the workplace is harder to recognize. No longer do we have to worry about our braids being pulled on the playground, or our lunch money being stolen; instead, we now have to worry about our ideas being heard, feeling comfortable working with everyone on our team, and if we will be accepted as a valuable team member. The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as, “repeated, heath-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators”. It is also “a set of actions of commission (doing things to others) or omission (withholding resources from others)”. Sadly, 75% of employees have observed or have been the target of workplace bullying according to Dr. Judy Blando (University of Phoenix). Although harder to spot than the burly thirteen-year-old bully on the playground demanding respect from smaller kids, workplace bullies are present in offices everywhere and their impact can hinder a team’s ability to work cohesively through intimidation, humiliation, and threatening behavior.

Knowing this, it is necessary to stop and identify any potential bullying situations in your workplace, even if it means that the bully might be you. Take a look at the following questions, answer them honestly, and consider if your behavior is having a negative impact on your coworkers.

  • Do you make jokes or sarcastic comments directed at one specific person?
  • Do you single a specific coworker out when giving negative feedback (especially in front of others)?
  • Do you exclude a specific coworker from conversations?
  • Do you use your influence in the workplace to overpower a specific person’s input?
  • Do you automatically shut down any ideas that aren’t yours?
  • Do you consistently delegate unwanted tasks to the same individual?
  • Do you use personal information as an excuse to discredit a specific coworker’s ideas?
  • Do you tend to blame your mistakes on a specific coworker rather than owning up to your own shortcomings?
  • Do you accept credit for successes that were not yours, or not yours alone?
  • Do you purposefully change aspects of projects without alerting everyone on your team?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, and especially if you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, you may be at risk of being considered a workplace bully by your peers. Luckily, awareness is half of the battle. The other half of the battle is changing your behavior from damaging to collaborative, supportive, and open. Instead of breaking others down for your own personal gain or amusement, build them up and allow everyone on your team the opportunity to succeed