|At my last position in Corporate America, I was on the receiving end of a bully executive who was well entrenched with our C.E.O. This duplicitous "mean girl," ironically a movie she always cited, victimized many with her vicious rumor-spreading, mockery and verbal intimidation. With me, her point of attack was almost always aimed at my solo status. A salary increase was denied due to my "stylish wardrobe" which she felt was lavishly excessive, so too was an office of my own and several bonus hikes which my married peers with lesser degrees and profit margins all received.|
Bella Depaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored and Still Live Happily Ever After, sees individuals who are targets of discrimination as victims of "singlism." Almost every organization has a corporate bully, but individuals, especially the most accomplished and successful, are increasingly being mistreated by their superiors and peers in the workplace. According to the research we at SingleEdition uncovered, bullies tend to be fueled by envy and resentment, which is typically brought out by high performing, well-liked employees who possess strong values and integrity.
So what can those who are being bullied do?
1. Realize it is not your fault: Like most bullies, mine was ridiculing me to destroy my self confidence and to make other employees disrespect me. For a long time I convinced myself that I was being too sensitive. Once I recognized the behavior for what it was, I was able to relinquish all self-blame and stopped questioning my professional conduct (and wardrobe.)
2. Confide in trusted co-worker(s): Keeping quiet about a bully's behavior only makes it worse. After confiding in a few trusted co-workers, it became evident that I was not this mean girl's sole victim. Turned out she was antagonizing many of the unmarried high-achieving women in the office. While we never pursued a formal complaint, we had enough evidence as a collective group to pursue legal redress.
3. Make Sure to Keep a Record: Lucky for me, a friend of mine who is an attorney instructed me to keep detailed notes. I logged everything in an electronic file at work and backed it up on my home computer, including a list of individuals who were witness to those events.
4. Don't retaliate: Sure, there were moments when I wanted to tell her she resembled a troll (you heard it here first) and days where I considered sending a nasty gift to her attention to the office. Despite the strong urge, I refrained from striking back. Walking away with grace and style left my bully more defeated every time.
5. File a formal complaint: In most cases, the only way to stop workplace bullying is through a formal complaint. Wait until you have gathered enough evidence to show that you are being bullied before you make a complaint to your supervisor, boss or human resources person. This will prevent the bully claiming that there has been a misunderstanding. Make your complaint in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Include all the records and other evidence that you have been collecting along with the names of any witnesses.
As for me, this June marks the one year anniversary since I resigned from my role at that company. Today I know for certain that I am living happily ever after and being compensated accordingly, which I know I cannot say about the former, supposedly happily married bully I left behind.