What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Counselor Target of Malicious Gossip

by Rachelle
(Texas)

I started working as a counselor in February 2008. When I entered the job, I made friends quickly, I became very popular with the patients. In this type of field and my personality type we are experienced and naturally trained to be observant and analytical. I'm the type of person that likes to deal with things ahead of time and not sweep things under the rug. In a short amount of time I started picking things up and I started getting praises from my colleagues. My work colleagues would make comments like, "Wow you're only 25 years old and you have achieved so much," or, "Thank you, when we call on you to help out, you just get up and do it without complaining, " or, "It's refreshing to see someone that is quiet and just get's their work done." I started getting praises from upper management. Everyone is telling me that I am mature for my age and I get things done and make things run more smoothly.

Well, there is this lady that I work with. She has past mental health issues (PTSD and ADHD) and drug addiction issues. She has overcome a lot and is currently working on her bachelor's degree. When I started working there I noticed that I never fully developed a relationship with her. I am a quiet person and maybe that is why I became a target. When looking back, I noticed that she started trying to compete with me. My boss asked me, "How far have you gone in your education." I told him that I was almost completed with my master's degree. Her office was next to mine and she heard everything and he came and asked her how many hour's she has completed towards her license because he was updating counseling levels chart. She stated, "I am currently working on my bachelor's degree and I have my associates degree." The boss told her, "I didn't ask you for your education I asked you how many state hours you have completed. We started working together on weekends and this lady has a history of snapping at people and talking down to them and coworkers have made complaints and she was getting written up a lot because of her behavior. She was snapping at me all weekend long, yelling at me, talking down to me, in front of patient's and coworkers. I told my supervisor and they wrote her up.

I tried to take the time to get to know her. I asked her about what she has overcome and gave her praise and I shared a little about myself so that I can get to know her and there will not be any wall up between us. During that time she stated that she envied me and that she envies girls like me the type of people that get all of their stuff together when they are young. After that day, she started to get quiet and when I enter a room coworkers would start staring at me.

Then my coworkers started making sarcastic comments about my work performance and they started rolling their eyes at me when I said that I wanted to stay at work for the long haul. Another supervisor overheard them making sarcastic comments towards me and started calling me names. Gossip is fine and it's going to happen everywhere but the gossip was directed at me, to hurt me, and it was used isolate me because my coworkers stopped talking to me. The lady would make comments, saying things like I wasn't working like everyone else when I actually am working hard and doing my best.

Then the lady started snatching things out of my hand like clipboards and papers. This lady started acting out towards me which scares me. Everyone time she would do something her same old, rehearsed excuse was, "I am so sorry for my behavior, I have ADHD and I do things without thinking." This was her typical sorry for everything. I made a second complaint to my supervisor that the behaviors that she was directing towards me was abuse and it is something that I do not have to accept. Because of the profession that we work in I can turn her into the state and she could lose her license and the place that we work at she can lose their license because it is a training facility.

We told the the assistant director. The assistant director brought us in together to discuss what was going and she denied her behavior blaming it on her ADHD and she was crying and taking the victim's role. She said that she is not going to say that she is sorry because her ADHD made her do it. She stormed out of the room and said that she is putting in her resignation and I told her that I don't want her to quit but I want the behaviors to stop. She decided not to quit her job.

One of my coworker's told me, "You make me nervous, you told the supervisor, it was just gossip and I don't even like gossip, and now I'm going to look for a different job, all because of... (my coworker's name)." She wanted to say me but she said the other ladies name. What these people fail to realize is that gossip is going to happen everywhere but when it is used to harm another person then that is when it becomes a problem.

Comments for Counselor Target of Malicious Gossip

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Malicious Gossip a Common Weapon of Bullies
by: Anton Hout

You are right about gossip. Gossip that turns malicious and slanderous is used by bullies to turn managers and coworkers against you. It's very frustrating and difficult to defend against as most people won't repeat the stories told by the bully to your face. However, it changes the way others perceive you and how they interact with you. As the gossip gets passed around the office it is embellished with each retelling until you are perceived as horrible, lazy, crazy or whatever the slander was meant to convince coworkers of about you.

Your story highlights another common bully tactic. They become highly indignant when they are confronted about their behavior and play the role of victim. Your bringing their unacceptable behavior to the attention of management is twisted into accusations that it is in fact you who are bullying them.

Bullies generally don't accept that their behavior is wrong. They justify it to themselves and others by claiming that it is the fault of their victim or that their victim deserves it. In this case the bully escapes responsibility for her behavior by using ADHD as her ongoing excuse.

She also attempts to control and manipulate the situation by threatening to quit. Of course she wouldn't really quit as this is only a ruse to garner sympathy of coworkers and management.

It may be that in this case this lady has seen that you will not tolerate abuse and that you will assert yourself. Perhaps she simply has issues with impulse control resulting from ADHD as she claims and will take greater care in the future to exercise some restraint.

If she is admitting this in front of management perhaps they can insist that she get help with her ADHD. I am wary of involving EAP when it comes to targets of bullying but perhaps in this case EAP can do some good for a change.

It's wrong
by: Anonymous

I have been a Target too of Malicious Gossip throughout a small company... this is a very uncomfortable work environment and is uncalled for. I can't believe that management at my company have allowed this for so long. Wish I could leave... economy is too unstable right now.

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