I was in a inter company 5 years, the last year and a half was when the bullying started because, this is the ironic part : I was asked to take on certain aspects of a new system because I excelled at the training/designing of it and I had a good rapport with staff. I didn't even go looking for this position - the very same "bully managers behind the curtain" came looking for me to take on this role as the new system trainer/designer. The whole reason I was bullied into the ground was because (and this really is schoolyard stuff) - "I HOLD MY ANNUAL REVIEWS WITH THE BUSINESS DIRECTOR HIMSELF AND WHO EVER HEARD OF A PROJECT OFFICER HAVING THE DIRECTOR AS THEIR LINE MANAGER". I think the director knew pretty early on what might be happening with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (not real names :-) because when I mentioned a couple of things (more puzzled than worried), like not being invited to certain meetings and when I used to bring certain things to Mr Hyde's attention that the three of us might need to work on together, he used to just nod and then days later bring the exact same items to me as if they had never been discussed with him by me (understand now it was the start of some serious psychological undermining). I excused his behavior and thought that he was probably just stressed/high workload in that department at the time. The most valuable piece of advice I received was from the director. Even though I passed those incidents off as Mr Hyde just forgetting and thought it a bit odd. The director said it might be worth keeping a time/date/brief account, brief description etc.
God how right he was - I am so glad I did start documenting quite early on, because you can really see the pattern forming from small issues gradually building up in frequency and impact to down right aggressive behavior even slamming doors in my face (this was constant) and blocking my path on the stairs (of course when no one is looking). They always had an excuse "didn't know you were behind me", "was texting so didn't see you", "I always walk down the middle of the stairs instead of holding the banister". The thing is - I was dealing with two guys (one well over 6ft, Dr Jekyll) I'm just a 5ft 4" woman, just the physical aggressive side of it alone was intimidating. Nobody would believe that these two were capable of this stuff, they speak so softly when management are around.
All I can say is as soon as they make this kind of behavior illegal the better - the only problem is proving it because these type are professional liars. I am now just getting over my bullying experience although HR ended up having to change it to voluntary redundancy and give severance pay. It involved mainly two members of staff - the serial bully and his hench-man but also, as someone so aptly put it involved "the bullies behind the curtains - managers they hood-winked)". These two guys really were Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Mr Hyde being the serial bully (the quiet one - most dangerous) and Dr Jekyll, his hench-man - really aggressive. But I never saw anything like it - to senior management they acted like butter wouldn't melt in their mouth, really polite/charming etc.
It started off as constant nit picking, critising and escalated to actual sabotaging of my work (deleting designs/functions and then claiming I hadn't built them into the systems) to just complete and utter lies. There is so much more? I started documenting everything and thank God because the day before I was actually fired I had printed off the records of all the actions carried out on the designs. Clearly showing where they had deleted functions/whole training databases and other actions and who had carried out these actions/serial number of computer etc. I don't think they knew that the system actually recorded every single action and by who on the System. I only happened upon it!!
Anyway going into too much detail here but thank God I found all of that stuff because
1) I would have left that company thinking I really was incompetent at my job and going "crazy" and also it meant that HR changed it to redundancy, they did TRY and get me to sign a gagging order. I should have brought it to court but I was just too emotionally exhausted and just wanted to get out and away. I had developed terrible backpains and shingles, but also and this is the thing I am still trying to get over it with everything else.
I have developed a total distrust of people and that is in general not just the workplace. My counsellor says I have developed PTS and I need to take it one step at a time. I couldn't even believe it because I always thought of that as something a soldier suffers from or if someone has had a terrible accident/shock like a car accident (I was still trying to get my head round what "bullying in the workplace was" and that nearly all workplace bullying is carried out in a systematic way to either control or eliminate the target). But now I understand PTS, as one reader said "even if her boss asked to speak to her for a few minutes" it would bring on a panic attack.
That is what happens to me even though I am considered to be quite a confident person and now working for a really good company with even more responsibility etc but completely bully free (I think?), but if someone uses phrases that resemble what they used to say and do to me, it can bring on a panic attack.
Even just someone standing behind me when I am working and talking to me gets me extremely uptight (even though before the bullying I was well able to carry on designing and also part of my job was training and giving presentations etc so I was well used of being surrounded by people watching what I am doing.) I pinpointed it though to the fact that they used to constantly stand behind me (even uninvited) and one would start hitting the chain of his swipe card off my desk and both critising, really nit picking (really small issues) at everything - in a open plan office (I realised their bullying tactics, because anyone listening to that wouldn't realise how small these issues really are with the use of IT terminology... they must have thought something terrible must have gone wrong).
These issues were the equivalent of someone puttng 'their' instead of 'there' and another tactic was if someone asked for something to be done by me, they would subtly imply that I wouldn't know how to do it and that they would carry it out for them instead. (I went from in the beginning of the job my phone constantly going and steady stream of people coming to see me to in the end I would be lucky if I got 6 calls during the day sometimes starting with "Mr Hyde said you mightn't be able to do this but"... (funny it was stuff I had done countless times before to advanced level).
So I went from being exceptionally good at my job and well liked to before I was fired being viewed as completely incompetent and unable to work as a "team player" or "under supervision". If I hadn't found that hard evidence against them I would have left thinking they were probably right - that I was just not up for the job.
SO I SAY TO ANYONE THAT FINDS THEMSELF BEING BULLIED BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. IT WAS JUST A "HAPPY ACCIDENT" THAT I CAME ACROSS THE HARD EVIDENCE OF SABOTAGING "or a mistake on my part as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde would have claimed :-))" BUT IF THINGS JUST DON'T ADD UP THE THINGS YOUR BULLY MIGHT BE CLAIMING ABOUT YOU ESPECIALLY IF YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART AND SOUL YOU JUST DO NOT MAKE MISTAKES LIKE THAT OR THAT OTHER STAFF VIEW YOU LIKE THAT (projection) - BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. ITS HARD WHEN THEY MAY HAVE ALREADY PUT SO MUCH SELF DOUBT IN YOU BUT BELIEVE ME YOUR GUT INSTINCTS WILL LET YOU KNOW YOU ARE NOT JUST DEALING WITH A DIFFICULT OR STRESSED COLLEAGUE WHO NEEDS CALMING, EVEN IN THE EARLY STAGES OF THE BULLYING PROCESS/SOMETHING JUST SEEMS SO FALSE ABOUT THE PERSON(S) EVEN THOUGH YOU JUST CAN'T PUT YOUR FINGER ON IT.
I think HR just buried the documentation and evidence (but I did email it to a number of senior managers) and quite a few links to bully sites. These sites literally described word for word what happened to me "The Bullying Process and Patterns" and helped me to get my documented notes in order to show the pattern forming and escalating in severity and what type of terminology to use when describing incidents.
HR turned a blind eye to what happened to me because they couldn't afford to lose them (or HR were made think that!). I was told that I was not only trying to deal with a chronic bully at the time, but also someone who was showing all the traits of a narcissist which could be true for one of them anyway. What I understand of Narcissism or Histronics apart from the main traits they display is that they don't seem to understand the spoken word or written word in relation to the context it is said in, and the emotion involved. Its like they mimic or steal another person(s) personality but lack what you would call being the "real McCoy" or being in sync, but I don't know, this could also be another bullying ploy to knock you off-balance. I know a few people who are very much "myself first, myself last and anything going myself again" but it is only when you meet someone who has full NPD that you walk away feeling odd but not sure why.
If it helps anyone and this is a backward compliment - but the majority of times a target gets bullied (and this has been proven) is because they are good at their job (if not excelling)/popular and usually pose a threat in some way to the bullies. In my case it was Mr Hyde (serial bully) who wanted part of my job, the training side (he is now doing it) because it was a little more high profile and a step into management, and Dr Jekyll because he was afraid for his - he did much the same type of work as me (not very good but adequate enough), but now he is the only one that knows that side of things - so hey presto job security (oh and his line Manager is Mr Hyde).