Every workplace has a zero-tolerance policy buried somewhere in their employee handbook, but that hasn’t stopped the office bullies. From micromanagers to saboteurs, these bullies bulldoze your productivity and ruin your reputation. It may take a little overtime work, but with the right strategy, here’s how you can defeat the worst office tormentors.
Give an inch, take a mile — that’s the goal of The Micromanager. This is not just a battle with an enemy, it’s the ultimate challenge with yourself. Technically, nothing The Micromanager does or says is wrong, so he will keep piling on to-do lists, agendas, nitpicking questions and org charts. When you finally snap from the pressure, you’re going to be left with the blame. You’ll never win this war, but you can pull a draw or even a stalemate. Stand up for yourself and create boundaries early and often. Don’t reply to every single email during nights and weekends. When frantic messages come in, keep your cool and take your time so you don’t sound reactionary or hostile. In time, you’ll carve out the respect from your boss and your peers to keep The Micromanager at bay.
The Deep Disher
He knows everyone in the office, and he always has the best stories. Even if you don’t think you’re that interesting, you can bet he’s talking shit behind your back. After all, who told you about Lauren from Marketing? Uh-huh, I thought so. The best way to win over a Deep Disher is to befriend him, and befriend him hard. Take him to happy hour, get him drunk, and learn his secrets. Once you have some ammo on him, you can bet he won’t be trash talking you anytime soon.
The darkest bully of them all is the one out to get you. What begins as a touch of workplace paranoia becomes an all-out war zone. His goal is to set you up for failure by purposely leaving you off email chains, or not inviting you to key meetings. Overcome The Saboteur with patience and bookkeeping. He wants you to snap, so keep your composure. Record each time he throws you under the bus, until you have a solid case. Then fight fire with fire, and the next time they try to sabotage you, let them walk into your trap — right into HR.
A coworker who plays the victim card is dangerous, because he’ll make you out to be the bully. So roll up your sleeves and own it. Break them down until their self-pity becomes noticeable to everyone else, and people realize that they’re the problem. Yes, he might claim that you’re destroying his life and wind up in therapy — but stay calm. He’s on his way to a nervous breakdown, and your cool behavior will help drive him off the cliff — and on his way to a leave of absence.
The Ass Kisser
This passive-aggressive bully lords his relationship with the boss over you. Believe it or not, you actually already have the high ground here. The Ass Kisser wants validation and attention and doesn’t know how else to get it. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to buddy up with this one; the best way to deal with this foe is to simply ignore him. The second you insult him or mess something up, you know who will be the first person to hear about it. Play it safe and steer clear.