Back to Listing

Who to pity more workplace bully or victim?

26 June 2013

A few weeks ago a friend of mine made a Facebook Post regarding her experience turning up to work late.  She’s a professional working in a big firm.  She’s also a mother of two children, with two early morning drop offs followed by a 45 minute commute.  She’s 15 minutes late on a day when it was raining sideways and her 18 month old was making life hard and a female colleague greets her with the following statement, “you know there are two eight o’clocks in 24 hours, you’ve just missed one and I’m not talking about the one that happens in the evening.”


Seeing this post on Facebook I was interested in the reactions of her friends.  This I will share with you in a moment.


The question I want to ask is who to feel more sorry for?  The bully or the bullied?


I have been contemplating the thought, what might someone need to feel to bully another in the workplace?  What is going on for the supposed bully in this circumstance? What might be happening in the organisation to create an environment where someone is compelled to bully?


Controversially I meekly asked a few friends for their opinion and was surprised by one individual’s response.  She confessed to being a workplace bully at times and explained to me how her work environment was bringing out the worst in her.  Her reasons were as follows:


1. No sense of whether I am performing well or not.  The feedback I receive is a bottomless pit of do more.

2. Lack of time for life balance.  Going to the gym is too challenging.

3. Culture of working late means leaving before 7pm is frowned upon.

4. Expectations of retrenching 30% of the workforce and expecting the remaining staff to do 30% more with no benefits is frustrating.

5. Lunch break if not taken at your desk raises eyebrows.

6. She resents colleagues with a family, on a good day wonders how they do it and if she could / on a bad day feels jealous and wishes she had what she calls the I’m a mother “immunity card.”

7. I’m fried and trapped.


Interestingly her solution is to find a new job.  So I asked her if she feels she can change her behaviour and start afresh in a new job and she’s hoping she can, and still thinks that if the work environment over time becomes confusing, unrewarding and lacking in flexibility there’s a good chance she might be destructive once more.


Back to my friend and the Facebook post.  100% of the feedback she received supported her as the victim and in many ways this is unsurprising.  I too felt really sorry for her and I also feel sorry for her bully, because any environment that brings out the worst in otherwise lovely people is a big problem.


To me if the work environment is bringing out the worst in you, my suggestion is to look toward setting your own pace for a compelling future.  Safely replacing your income by starting a business part-time or even in just a few hours a week to build an external income source may well be an option.


Lipstick Learning is an initiative of Sydney based business leader & entrepreneur Madelaine Cohen.  Sharing information and joining forces with people who choose to lead.  Madelaine has more than two decades of inspiration from her businesses in consumer products, sports marketing and healthcare.  She takes a leading role in helping people transition from employment or trading time for income to their own business in the health, beauty and anti-aging sectors.  Madelaine works with business models including a 10 x 10 process and 10:6:4:1 ratio strategy for generating profit of $100K or more per annum in your own business.   Why?  Inspire people to lead in free enterprise & together we can create lifetimes of health and happiness. To find out how you can start your own business and transition safely from employment to free enterprise, contact Madelaine through Lipstick Learning.