Are You a Bully?

February 11, 2019

So how can you know whether you are a bully? It is not possible to “diagnose” an issue such as this, but if you think some of the points below apply to you, it may be worth paying attention to how you are treating others.

You repeatedly upset someone around you. You may notice this if someone gets angry at you a lot, complains about your behavior, or is tearful often. These reactions are indeed a red flag and should be taken seriously.

You have a lack of empathy. This is not always easy to recognize in yourself. You may want to ask people around you whether they think that is the case, or even take an empathy test.

You can get aggressive. This may include openly shouting, threatening or humiliating someone in front of others. But it could also be passive aggressive comments, such as “Oh, you are doing it that way, that’s brave.”

You thrive around insecure people. If you make yourself feel better by evoking discomfort or insecurity in a colleague, that would be a classic sign of bullying. This could be done, for example, by persistently picking on someone or deliberately setting them up to fail.

You spread malicious rumors about a staff member. It may not seem like a big deal, but spreading rumors could make someone’s life a living hell, costing them professional and social success.

You misuse your power or position about performance issues. For example, you may intentionally block someone’s promotion or take away duties and responsibilities without any rationale or substance. Other possibilities include deliberately and persistently ignoring or excluding someone from joint collaborations and social events.

Bullying is especially likely to take place in stressful workplaces with poor leadership and a culture that rewards aggressive, competitive behavior. We know that bullying can trigger an array of mental health issues including depression, burnout, increased absenteeism, low self-confidence, and stress.

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