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She worked in a toxic workplace…

22 types of workplace bullying explained


Once upon a time there was a young professional wanting to climb the ladder and even, perhaps, dare she dream it; break the glass ceiling. Deciding to quit her comfy job (but with no growth perspective) as a Marketing Advisor, she started to apply for more senior positions within the industry. Finally, an offer came through to be part of a company that had a number of large accounts and were planning on expanding their portfolio.

This role was the door opener this Marketing enthusiast was looking for. She would be able to run the entire Marketing operation, working closely with the Sales team. But it was not long before she realised she was working in a very toxic workplace.

It started off with being placed in an office on the other side of the building away from the team she needed to work with. She thought perhaps the company either had no other space or were not thinking strategically. Nonetheless, being her first day, she did not want to complain and decided to give her new office a try. After all, it was nice to have her own space and she felt very important having this big office with its big desk. She thought perhaps the induction she would receive would help her to connect with others. However, no induction came. She was simply given her desk, computer, and files to read. It was up to her to awkwardly approach others and introduce herself.

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Being so isolated soon became less exciting and more depressing. She felt detached from the rest of the company. It became hard for her to connect and build relationships, especially with the team she had to work closely with. One day, working late, the other staff forgot all about her and turned off all the lights in the office and locked the doors. She sat there sad, in tears. She never felt so lonely at work before.

The next day, she approached her manager and expressed her concern about her working conditions. She felt it was not very productive to be so far from the team she needed to work so closely with. The manager disagreed and explained since she had a management role, she needed to fill the part of one and sit in a private office space, not on the floor with other staff.

Whenever she was out of her office, she was able to observe the other employees. They all looked sombre, so unhappy to be there, just the same way she felt. Then one day, a staff member from the Sales team came knocking on her door. It was the only female in the Sales department. She had tears in her eyes. “Come in” Ms Marketing gestured Ms Sales to sit down. “Is everything ok?” She asked. “No” sobbed Ms Sales. “The CEO accused me of stealing in front of everyone. I am hurt and embarrassed. I believe it’s because I’m female.” Shocked to hear this, Ms Marketing asked for more information. “Since I don’t have a car to drive to see clients, I was given Taxi vouchers by the company. They accused me of using those vouchers for personal use, which I have never done and wouldn’t do. Now my job is on the line for theft.”

Not long after, Ms Sales was fired.

Ms Marketing started to think about what Ms Sales said – that females were not respected in the company. She noticed that aside from her, only two other women worked in the company. Two (2) out of sixty (60).  How did she not notice this before? Perhaps it was because she was always so isolated, she never really got to know anyone else.

When Ms Marketing brought over new ideas and solutions to problems, the CEO would dismiss them. He still preferred the old ways of working, despite the fact that during her interview he said he was looking at new fresh ideas to promote the company and its services.

However, finances grew tight for the company. The solution for the CEO was to take away all stationary, filtered drinking water, Internet access, and coffee from the staff. If you needed a pen, you had to bring your own. If you wanted water, there was a tap in the kitchen. However, the coffee came back quick enough because the CEO remembered that he liked coffee.

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It was not long before Ms Marketing became depressed. She dreaded going to work. Her anxiety levels rose, her motivation in the office dropped. She would spend her days sitting in her office staring at her computer screen, bored. She did not want to be working. She did not even know what work she was meant to do. No direction was given, all her ideas were put down and any projects she was meant to work on were put on hold.

Soon, rumours started about Ms Marketing. First, she found out some of the other staff scored her physical appearance out of 10. Other workers claimed she was having an affair with another employee. Ms Marketing delved deeper into her depression. The only joy she got out of life was on the weekends when she was able to feel free and see her friends. She knew this was not the job for her, she knew she had to leave, but she also felt it would look bad on her resume if she did. She felt it was not professional to appear as though she jumped from one job to another. She had a plan; a goal for her career, leaving this job was not part of that. She really did not know what to do.

The next week, Ms Admin came knocking at her door. She too was crying. She said she felt so bullied by the CEO that she started drinking every night. She said that he would tell her she was doing a horrible job and that she was uneducated and stupid. Ms Marketing started to worry for Ms Admin. This was not healthy. Sure enough, Ms Admin was let go a month later. Ms Marketing knew it was a matter of time before she too was let go. The CEO really did have it in for females. But why did he even hire them in the first place?

Two weeks later, Ms Marketing was brought in for a meeting…it was time for her to pack her bags. “Why” she asked? The response shook her to her core “You are a liar,” said the CEO.  Her jaw dropped…a liar? What did she lie about? There was no explanation given. Without wanting to take matters further, Ms Marketing decided to let it go, because finally she was free.

So, what is the moral or even purpose of this true, but shocking story?

That toxic workplaces exist! That there are still people out there that discriminate or bully others. This can come in different forms. There are in fact 22 different types of workplace bullying (

  1. Withholding information
  2. Humiliation
  3. Tasking person with work below their level
  4. Removing responsibilities from a person who earned them
  5. Spreading gossip or rumours
  6. Ignoring or excluding a worker
  7. Making personal insults
  8. Shouting at a person
  9. Intimidating behaviour
  10. Providing hints of signals that a person should resign
  11. Reminding a worker constantly of errors or mistakes they have previously made
  12. Persistently criticising an employee
  13. Ignoring a worker’s hostile behaviour towards others
  14. Ignoring a worker’s opinion
  15. Playing practical jokes or pranks
  16. Imposing unreasonable deadlines
  17. Making unfounded allegations
  18. Excessively monitoring an employee’s work
  19. Putting pressure on employees not to claim entitlements such as annual leave
  20. Teasing an employee
  21. Imposing unreasonable workloads
  22. Making threats of violence or engaging in actual abuse

As you can see, many of the bullying tactics in this list were used in Ms Marketing’s workplace which made it such a toxic environment, that Ms Marketing’s mental health took an extreme dive.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in the same position as Ms Marketing?

Firstly, as an employee, it is your responsibility to set clear boundaries for yourself. You are responsible for the lines in which others can or cannot cross. Yes, the workplace has a major part to play, however, as an individual you are still responsible for yourself.

If you are fired unfairly, you can act by speaking with a government workplace body, such as Fair Work in Australia (you will need to research the best support within your own country) who look after employee rights.

You can also take legal action and speak with a professional Employment Lawyer.

But the best advice we can give you is to leave. If your workplace is toxic and you speak with Management and things do not improve, you must question if this is really the workplace you wish to stay in? Your mental health and wellbeing should be of the utmost importance. We understand that you have career goals, but it will be a lot harder to reach them if you are not mentally healthy and happy – a one off gap or short-term role in your resume will not end your career. However, being depressed can.

Remember, your happiness lies within your hands. You do not need to stay in a situation that takes it away from you.

If you need any help in finding the right workplace for yourself, My Career Angels can help. Send us a message for a free call and we can start your positive career journey today.

My Career Angels

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”

— Laird Hamilton