How to spot the office bully (and neutralise their bad behaviour)

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Being bullied can affect your productivity and the outcome of this may be negative (Shutterstock.com)

It is not always nice to be left feeling gasping for air or humiliated at your workplace by either a co-worker or your manager. In many cases if you are being bullied, it can affect your productivity and the outcome of this may be negative to the company and yourself.

Bullying is not illegal in South Africa, but the behavioural patterns thereof can be considered harassment.

Read: Team not playing nice? How to deal with the conflict

Here are a few types of office bullies:

1. The two faced co-worker that talks behind your back and ruins your reputation.  

2. The screaming co-worker whose aim is to express their opinion about you so loudly that all can hear and humiliate you in the process. 

3. The co-worker who shows no empathy for others, yet they are experts at manipulating the emotions of others in order to get what they want.

4. The co-worker who sees him or herself as absolutely indispensable and expects recognition for everything, but in turn they're not very good at their job. To compensate, these bullies spend a majority of their time watching more competent workers and looking for areas of skilled workers’ performance to complain about.

Read: 7 ways lazy people get a raise

5. That co-worker who generally lacks emotional maturity and can harm you with their words or actions.

6. Then there's the attention seeking bully who wants to be in the centre of everything all the time and will do whatever it is to get there, even ruin your reputation in the process.

7. Every office has at least one employee who gets off on wielding his or her power over others, regardless of whether that power is real or perceived. They deny people the tools they need, whether it’s resources, time or information; to do their jobs efficiently.

8. Then lastly, the bully who will dismantle other people’s confidence through constant and unwarranted criticism, leaving you feeling less than worthy all the time.

 The best defence a company can have against workplace bullying is a clearly worded policy that prohibits any type of bullying behaviour. Here are some components every good anti-bullying policy should include: 

·  A clear definition of what is considered bullying – along with a list of some of the actual behaviours that meet the definition

·  An outline of how employees can report bullying, including guidance on what to do when the bully is the manager.

·  A detailed explanation of the complaint and investigation process that will take place.

Do this quiz: Are you the office bully?

·  A “no retaliation” clause to help employees feel safe about reporting problem behaviour, and

·  A list of consequences of violating the anti-bullying rules. 

For more advice on similar co-worker conflict in the office read Careers24’s Management AdviceIf you are not happy at your workplace because of bullying, look for a more suitable environment to work in here.