Approximately 50 percent of both men and women in workplaces are bullies. And research shows two of every five employees experience bullying, across professions.
| Dr. McFarland
Could this be you? As the only technologist for a medical researcher from England, you have the dubious honor of sharing a lab in a beautiful, new medical research facility with Dr. Knox (not his real name). He's in his late thirties, tall and lanky with naturally curly, light red hair, and bearing some resemblance to Vincent van Gogh before the ear came off.
Because you've been working with international researchers for several years, you aren't concerned about changing to this position. In fact, you are looking forward to working with a British researcher as a new cross-cultural experience.
Unfortunately, Dr. Knox isn't looking forward to working with anyone new--but he has to. His current technologist, whom he highly favors, has been with him since he came to the U.S. to conduct research, but she and her husband plan to relocate soon to a different state.
Dr. Knox is a perfectionist, who rarely smiles or says anything that isn't critical or sarcastic. He doesn't teach, share or compliment. Most of his communication amounts to instruction. Do this! Do that!
So, when he plans to return to London for a week, you secretly rejoice. It isn't because you're thinking of skipping out of work or shirking your duties, but rather because you anticipate working without his cloudy countenance hovering over the lab.
However, Dr. Knox manages to maintain his negative influence, even in his absence. Without talking with you about projects to be worked on while he's away, he leaves a long list of tasks for you to complete before his return. You work alone in that lab from 7 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. every day, including both weekends he's was away, and manage to finish on the evening before his return.
When Dr. Knox comes into the lab the next morning and you tell him you've completed the work, showing him all the detailed results, he snarls, "Impossible! No one could do all that in 1 week." He had intentionally overloaded you with work and wasn't even pleased that you had done it!
Reflecting on that and other incidents that have occurred over several months, you understand his intention was to assign more than he believed you could possibly complete, so he would have "evidence" he could use to complain against you.
From their research, A.H. Buss and M.P. Perry developed a list of 33 aggressive workplace behaviors. Among them are several you have experienced by Dr. Knox: ignoring your contributions; lying to you; denying you a raise without giving a valid reason; treating you in a condescending manner; and giving unreasonable workloads or deadlines. You begin to understand Dr. Knox is a bully, and you are his chosen target.
Fortunately, you have worked in other labs during your medical technology career and have met wonderful people who have become good friends. Research shows having good friends at work improves overall morale, performance and productivity.
Having good friends at work also decreases the likelihood of becoming the target of a bully. As the only other person in Dr. Knox' lab, you had no workplace friend and were a convenient target for a disgruntled superior.
Therein lies one tactic for avoiding becoming the target of a bully: Develop close friends at work and keep them close at hand.
Dr. McFarland (info@FifthDimensionStrategies.com) is president of Fifth Dimension Strategies, and author of Bullies Among Us: What To Do When Work's No Fun. For more information, visit www.FifthDimensionStrategies.com, www.BadAppleSolutions.com and www.BulliesAmongUs.blogspot.com.