What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Frenemy In The Teachers Lounge

by Veronica
(Seattle)

I started a new job this year at a school I had been subbing at. I was excited to work with kids and meet potential friends. I've lived in a new city for close to a year and haven't made too many friends so I was open to the idea. At the small school I work at, we have co-teachers for the extended day program, and right away I got a bad feeling from the woman who I was supposed to teach with. I just knew she wasn't going to like my style of communication and that we were different.

I'm a generally nice person who tends to give people the benefit of the doubt. In this situation this only benefited one person, the frenemy. She invited me over to dinner one night. I didn't really want to go but felt like I shouldn't cancel. I went over and the food was really good and I enjoyed her husband's company. I felt that we had bonded and that our work woes had gone away, but I was wrong. The small jabs and constant criticism continued and grew in different forms and in different ways.

One of her tactics was to corner me when she knew I was most exhausted and very hungry. She would approach me and sit down and then dig into me. At first I was skeptical because she had been so warm to me, but as months went by, it became obvious we weren't really friends. She made plans with me weeks ahead and then broke them for reasons she couldn't tell me. She let me use her ratty old truck to move, but then got upset about the gas usage.

I was really starting to realize that her treatment of me was bothering me but I couldn't figure it out.

It wasn't until one Friday when she came in and I told her, "I'm having a rough day."

She asked about it and I responded and then pounced on the opportunity to rip the rest of my day apart.

"I know you're having a bad day, and I don't want to offend you, but," I cut her off.

"You are offending me by saying that." She continued anyways.

I was angry, smoke stirred through me the rest of the weekend as I spent my spare time figuring out what to say to her on Monday. I ended up telling her that if she wanted to have a mutual and constructive critique, I was open to that, but that these random critiques aren't helpful. She agreed, and strangely enough wanted to meet off of campus and walk to a coffee shop nearby for our critique during work hours.

This was the real kicker, where she really got a chance to ask me offensive questions like why I talk a certain way or why I use certain mannerisms. She picked things out that I had said to the students that were dumb and meaningless. At the time I thought she was trying to be helpful, but I didn't take her advice with any real importance. I just thought listening would help ease her issues. Then I found out that this would not work, because she disrespected my boundaries by asking me inappropriate questions like why I was sick or how I felt about my lesson.

At that point I was done. She approached me about meeting for a critique, and while I originally said yes, I was just trying to bide my time until the day of to say no. This is something you have to do with narcissist bullies who pretend they are being a friend. Otherwise, it could cause a confrontation.

So on Monday after a very relaxing weekend, I texted her saying, "I don't need to meet today because I already have enough to work on from our last meeting for the rest of the school year."

She was irate. She texted me back that we needed to talk, it was important. I told her it was non-negotiable. This is when she revealed her true inner self when she said, "It seems like you have a problem with me? Why else wouldn't you want to meet?"

I told her I was willing to talk about lesson planning and the health of students. I told her I was willing to talk about future successes. I told her to talk to the boss if she had an issue, and that's what she did! I also had already asked my boss if I could switch to another grade band. I was happy to do this because I prefer older kids.

My boss basically told her to cut it out, her communication was not working for me and that there should be some norms between us of what we agree to talk about. That day she was pissed when she came into work. The following day she didn't give me any attitude. It's perfect now because all we communicate is what we need to. I still don't trust her and will not say much to her at all. I blocked her on my Facebook.

Feel free to tell your bully to go to your boss if they have any issues. Obviously this depends on the boss, but if you get the bully early on and keep making boundaries with them, this can clearly work. Most bosses are always watching and want coworkers to be happy and productive.

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