Have you experienced bullying in heels?

31. 1. 2023

Madeleine Albright said:

There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.

And I would add that another place is reserved for those of us who knowingly and deliberately make other women’s work or personal lives more difficult.

You know terms like Bossing, Mobbing or Staffing? And do you have experience with any of these types of workplace bullying? How would you defend yourself and would you be able to recognize and defend against this type of manipulation? What if you were bullied by a woman?

Let’s be clear about the terms:

  • Bossing – a superior bullying a subordinate (in work teams).
  • Mobbing – one person is harassed by multiple colleagues (in work teams).
  • Staffing – An employee/group of colleagues bully a supervisor (in work teams).

According to surveys of professionals, it is mainly women who deliberately do bossing. Men, if they show signs of bossing, do so unconsciously, often due to a lack of emotional intelligence. Whereas for women it is a premeditated negative action directed at the person of a subordinate colleague.

Most of the time, these types have the characteristic elements of a saviour cult of personality, are very charming and present that they have the welfare of others at heart. On the other hand, they have a knack for putting colleagues in the position of jerks (and still having a good laugh at your expense), assigning meaningless tasks (buying flowers, making coffee for other colleagues) and are masters at giving verbal tasks without specifics. They have no problem lying when confronted.

Mobbing leads to insulting remarks about private life, ridiculing opinions in front of colleagues (in meetings), refusing to communicate or spreading gossip and rumours. They are very happy to brag about presenting stolen thoughts or ideas and consider them as their own. Can you recognize who greets you in the office with a smile, and when you walk into the kitchen, your colleagues’ debate suddenly dies down?

Cases of a subordinate bullying a superior are not unique in organisations. People who wage a silent war against a manager or a business owner are very calculating. By their manipulative approach to colleagues, they belittle the authority of the boss, often disrupting his personal life, ignoring his opinions and points of view. They routinely violate company rules and impersonate company executives to obtain sensitive company information. They often spread untruths about the boss among colleagues to secure witnesses for their side and play the victim when confronted. Ladies and gentlemen, this is staffing.

Sometimes you sense the evil immediately, other times it consumes you and your eyes are blind, even when the bullying is right under your nose. The important thing is to realize what is happening and immediately begin to address the situation, and at least one person will come out of this needing therapy.

Don’t sit quietly in the corner. And if you are a victim or witness, take action and seek help. The same goes for women, who, while they are supposed to be the support, still have a social responsibility to report toxic colleagues or bosses and remove them from their lives. Then we will all be better off to work and live.

The legislation does not provide sufficient protection. Corporate processes and rules are fine if they are followed and taken seriously in organisations. However, we are only human and you will not always find an understanding body that will defend your rights.

Share your experiences with us. Have you experienced workplace bullying? How have you dealt with it?

Author: Anna Beňadiková, Operations Manager, EDU Trainings

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