But it is happening, and more than you may think. Instances include deliberately undermining competent workers by overloading them; constant criticism; copying memos that are critical of someone, to a third party who doesn’t need to know; being sworn at (there is NEVER any justification for a line manager to swear at an employee); ridiculing or demeaning someone; and deliberately setting them up to fail.
But perhaps the most cowardly and obnoxious practice is overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position. Bullying makes the victim anxious, frightened, demotivated and stressful, with a loss of self-esteem and confidence. And in extreme circumstances can cause illness.
What makes a manager become a bully? A little bit of authority at work may have gone to their head, or they may have enjoyed picking on weaker children at school. If this is happening to you, stand up against it NOW. Workplace bullies are the dregs of society, and like all bullies they will crumble if you stand up to them.
One of my Twitter followers, Kirsty Crerar, https://twitter.com/fatsparklequeen, summed it all up perfectly when she said: “Funny how people that got bullied turned out better than the ones that bullied them.”
And talking of Twitter, there’ve been many instances of people – both ordinary folk and celebrities alike – who have closed their Twitter and Facebook accounts because of cyber bullying.
In the olden days they were known as poison pen letters. Nowadays they’re anonymous posts on Facebook, Twitter and online forums. But they’re designed to do exactly the same thing: cause pain, distress or offense to someone.
However, there are two big differences between writers of poison pen letters and these so-called “Internet Trolls” who conduct cyber bullying by dealing in offensive, controversial, or divisive material. Firstly, the letters were only read by the intended victim, while the work of these bullying, anonymous, trolls is visible for the whole world to see.
Secondly, poison pen letters will typically target the recipient’s weak point and may include lies or abusive statements intended to spark a reaction, while trolls are perhaps most notorious for posting offensive and malicious comments on internet sites.
As a fiction writer I often find myself trying to get inside my character’s psyche to see how they would act in a certain situation, and why. But when I was developing the idea for my critically acclaimed short story about an internet troll, The Twitter Bully, try as I might I just could not fathom why anyone would, or indeed, how they could, act in such a way.
Close to 90 percent of internet trolls are between the ages of 14 to 21, and social media companies make it so easy for anonymous postings, because you only need an email address to set up an account; then you can call yourself anything you like.
In the control of a sick and twisted mind, absolutely anything can be used for the wrong purposes, and social media is no different. But one, simple, answer is for social media companies to ensure that anyone posting anything online is clearly identifiable.