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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Being Bullyed For Being Too Shy

by Wendy
(Phoenix, AZ)

I had a lot of jobs in my life and I do admit that I am a bit quiet at work, mostly because I try very hard to stay away from negativity in the workplace. I been told that shy people like myself can be confusing to read, but I don't think that's an excuse for wrong treatment of any kind. I currently work at a insurance company as a image processor, I am responsible for scanning documents. Most of my co-workers in the office are friendly with each other and everyone seem to get along well with each other. Everyone except me.

I come to work eveyday, sit down and do my job and I don't bother anyone, but I negative comment said about me behind my back and dirty looks for no reason at all. One of the Unit Manager had said to another co-worker that I looked like a ugly actress on tv and I over heard that co-worker singing the theme sing from the tv show that she was on. I took it as her mocking me. Mocking is something that happenens to me on a daily basis. Every little body gesture I do, I see my co-workers mocking me over it. This might not be a big thing to someone else, but it is very hurtful to me.

Now I am having a problem with another co-worker, she saw me taking my break alone and now she's telling everyone that I am a "loner". And another one of my co-workers ask me if I was going to go "postal" because I am quiet. This was very insulting and hurtful.

I only been at this job for 8 months and all of these things are happening to me. I get nervous on Sunday nights because I think about going to work the next morning. It's getting to the point where everyday I don't know what to expect.

I do need some advice, please anyone if you have any advice tell me what to do.

Comments for Being Bullyed For Being Too Shy

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Bulled for Being Too Shy
by: Anonymous

No one can tell any one else what to do. The best any of us can do who have been bullied is to develop a support network and share our own experiences and others will elect to use what fits their need. I am a loner, too. I always have been and always will be. I like THINK about ideas and problem solve, and that takes time alone. Thanks to much therapy, I can now also interact well with others; I have been very selective and avoid "red flag people." It is not important to me to win a popularity contest but rather find a few emotionally healthy, reasonable people who have a conscience and passion to live a worthwhile life. Over the years I have learned courage to speak up and express my feelings, ideas and opinions to that selected group of real friends. It helps me keep perspective when I deliberately avoid a bully--they never has a broad view of life and that makes them dangerous to me. They are always after another target, not to make the world a kinder, gentler place. Nothing stays the same, and eventually your problem, too, will change. You can't change the bullies, but you can change where you work, albeit it is difficult in this job market to make a move. It takes inordinate patience for the targets of bullying in this job market. Out of frustration I started writing a local newsletter that educates area people about the problems we have because we elect bullies to public office, and they have ruined our communities. (Be careful how you use names, if at all, as they are bound to retaliate--I went to jail.) When young children tell me that what those "bad people" did to destroy our historic buildings and say, "It is just so dumb. Why would they do that to our town? It is dumb." then I know my printed message is getting through! One helpful idea might be if Anton added a daily list serve so that targets could communicate with one another quickly and easily, especially during crises attacks when we are most alone.

I'm Sorry
by: Mother of an Angel

I'm so sorry you are going through this. I hope that you will always keep in mind that it isn't you that is bringing on this behavior, but the third grade mentality of some of your coworkers.

I can't give you advice, as I don't have the answers to bullying. I wish I did. I guess, if it had been me, I would have just looked them right in the eye and said "that's rather hurtful", but who knows? Since it was obviously meant to be hurtful, maybe that would just spur them on.

You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Dear Shy,
by: Anonymous

I can honestly say that I feel your pain and suffering. I went through the exact things you describe.
I too am a shy/quiet person, and I am not agressive, but I do take a stand for what I believe to be right, and when I say "right", I don't mean right in the moral sense.
What you describe is very typical for bullied targets/victims, this site and others are an excellent place for information and confirmation that what you are experiencing is an unfortunate reality in our workplace culture.
The only advice I would give, is that you should listen to your instincts and your intuitions, because they are usually correct, and too trust yourself.
I know that when this is happening its very difficult to be objective, but you are the only one who knows the real you, and bullies seek out sensitive souls to destroy, you just happen to be in their path at the moment, once one is targeted, the writing is on the wall.
I know from experience that ignoring bully doesn't work, and fighting back is out of the question. For me, I just tried to remain as neutral as possible and avoid the bully at all costs, because my mental and physical being were taking a beating.
One might say I was being submissive, but until one experiences being bullied, they cannot know how devastating being bullied is.
After four years of abuse, I resigned, for me it was the only option. Resignation has been a very expensive decision, but selling out and destroying my mental and physical well being was not worth the abuse.
Bullies do not care one iota about you, because you represent everything they would like to be, but will never understand what being genuine and not imposing your beliefs on others is.
Instead they destroy the thing they envy and can't control, genuiness.
Bullies are weak mentally and psychologigally, and abuse is the only thing they understand, its really sociopathic, and is condoned in workplace culture.
There are places to work where people treat each other with respect and civility, it may take awhile to find, but its worth the trouble.
No one deserves to be abused at work or at home.
Bullying is wrong.

Unemployed and Long Term Sick
by: Anonymous

I know how you feel, I was bullied and harassed at work from the age of 16-25, in a food factory. Because I'm a shy man, quiet and don't mix much.

The men and women at the factory in many varied work departments, would make fun of me all the time, making Homophobic remarks, pedophilia remarks and rumor spreading all day long. As is always the case with the victims, the rumors where untrue, but hurtful. My life was a misery from day to day.

In the end I had to leave, I developed Social phobia, severe depression, anxiety disorder, low self esteem etc. I haven't worked for 12 years, receiving medication and Disability Living Allowance, which is a state benefit here in the UK. I received no law compensation because nobody would defend me in the tribunal.

Over the years I have received lots of therapy which has not helped me in anyway. The reasons being, I'm used like a doormat in general by people in my daily life anyway, even my own family bully me.

So my general advise to you is, leave your workplace, because they will continue until they grind you into the ground and I wouldn't won't you to get any mental health problems, like main.

Don't apologize for being quiet
by: Anonymous

Not a thing wrong with being quiet. Such a refreshing thing after all the bigmouths we encounter. Even if you are quiet, its no crime. And people making fun of you for being quiet are the same kind who would kick a dead dog. You don't tease a handicapped person for being handicapped, unless you're a petty, have-no-life-of-my-own type of person. You probably threaten them and bring out the worst in them. This is NOT your fault. It is however why they continue with their monkey behavior.

I have been bullied most of my life by people who were often my inferiors in appearance, ability and moral character. I tended to be more quiet, too, but because I was pretty, I was labelled stuck up and haughty. Noone could leave me alone; they all had an opinion and wanted to get in my face. I still managed to get good jobs tho, and continue taking classes and keep up hobbies. I also jog daily and try to eat healthy. Never allow yourself to be rabble-roused or talked into hating yourself, just because some moron out there is threatened by you.

In its worst form, I went through 6 years of academic mobbing with a sociopath as its ringleader. They used incredible, unbelievable tactics. There were weeks when I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had to talk to lawyers, counselors, try anti-anxiety meds, listen to self-help CDs, you name it. I finally left; and I was lucky to leave with my sanity. They had me so snowballed and the issues so confused that I now understand completely how it is that some individuals end up taking their own lives because of such harassment. The human race can be very cruel indeed.

Having said that, here's how you get around incessant bullying. Leave that toxic workplace. Find somewhere else to work where you can find something to like about your job. It may be that the bullying will start up again. If so, you will have to decide whether management will protect you from it. Or heck, you may decide to try to learn how to stand up to the bully(s). Or you may decide that you will have to move on yet again. Who said life was fair? But rest assured, you as a bullied person are in good company and you are just as essential to the world as anyone else. As I have said in an earlier comment, bullying is a social-biological function that developed in our most primal origins. That doesn't make it less fearful or hurtful when you encounter it, it simply explains why it exists.

Re: Anonymous
by: Anonymous

First, just a small side remark to the previous post: It's kinda contradictory to say there is nothing wrong about being quiet and then compare a quiet person to a handicapped one. I know you didn't mean it in a bad way, but the way you phrased is actually saying the opposite of what you probably wanted to say. Being quiet is NOT a handicap. It's just a character trait like any other - whether it's good or bad depends on circumstances and one's personal taste.

As for Wendy's situation, that's what I would recommend:

1) Find a new job, ASAP. Believe me, it's worth the risk and effort. From my experience, once you've been tagged as the victim of mocking and bullying, it's practically impossible to recover from it in that particular enviroment. It may get a little better from time to time, but it will never fully go away. Even if you were the most extraverted, social, assertive and popular person in other areas of your life, the way those people treat you is paralyzing you and making you unable to show your real personality.

2) After leaving the job, find a group of people who like you and respect you. If you're anything like me, then your self-image has probably been distorted by the bullies. Anyone's would be if they were subjected to humiliation on a daily basis. Now you need to realize that the way the bullies perceived you has nothing to do with who you really are and how you are perceived by people in general. Even if you realize that rationally, you need encouragement and healthy relationships to stop partially believing all the bullshit that's been said about you or hinted at.

3) I know it's a terrible cliche, but try to view the whole thing as an useful experience, and take the most out of it. Sooner or later, your weaknesses may become your strengths. In my case, the darker parts of my life also often turned out to be the more rewarding ones. It just took a lot of time to see them that way.

Good luck.

Since when is not talking negative bad?
by: Quiet in West Virginia

I, like everyone on this website, am shy. I have dealt with personal jabs at my quiet demeanor ever since I can remember. You know what I say..."DEAL WITH IT!"

Just because I do not wish to subject myself to a lengthy diatribe about why somebody is the way they are and engage myself in gossip, I choose to keep to myself and listen to what they have to say or just walk away.

I'm willing to bet that while people like us were keeping quiet in school and actually listening, the morons that kept blabbering on and on while the teacher talked didn't learn a hell of a lot. These are the same people that take out their insecurities on good people, and ultimately it is God who will judge them and not they who will judge everyone else.

lets take a stand against bullying harassment
by: Anonymous

anytime your are harassed, demeaned and ridiculed on a job management should step in and stop it at once! if management is involved or ignores the abusive behavior seek an attorney because human resources rarely sides with the complaining employee and further exacerbates the problem. most companies would rather target the complaining employee instead of handling the situation. it bothers me when people say find another job because the victim will carry this stigma everywhere they go. you cannot continue to run this is something that has to be dealt with head on. everytime we run we leave the door open for someone else to face the wrath of abusive co-workers and the cycle continues. we all have different personalities and the work environment is very diverse, no-one should be abused because someone simply does not like them, this type of behavior has gone on far too long. grown people can behave very juvenile and petty and some tend to lean towards those that began rumors and run down others characters. the weak often follow psychopaths because they dont want to become the next target or they feel the need to belong as for me i would rather stand alone than to be a puppet for a ruthless, gutless, deranged human being. if an attorney says theres nothing he can do then expose the bully and the companies that keep them. we must get together, tell our stories and make a big impact through the media and by contacting our legislatures. when you get tired of crying, feeling low. feeling pain, feeling helpless. reach down and pick yourself up and fight! it is good to have forums such as this one but, united we can bring these issues to the forefront but, we must be persistent and consistent. protesting, marching, talk shows, radio, cnn, nbc, newspapers, magazines, congress.

continuing from unemployed and long term sick
by: Anonymous

Hey, unemployed and long term sick, you have something in common with long slow recovery after bullying in bank. Read it, because it goes to show we are not alone in battling health problems and personal suffering. Whats good about this website is that people are finally speaking out. Once upon a time it was kept quiet and the victim would often think he or she needed to change to please everyone else. Although some change is needed if we are going to have to make it in a cut throat working world, we need to be safe! You dont know what kind of people you are working along side, and these days many people prefer to keep to themselves without being harassed. Not enough is being done to protect victims and again its often those that dont know the law or that dont have family support behind them to see justice prevail and end up suffering the most!!!!

Elderly bully
by: Anonymous

I too am a victim of workplace bullying. I am criticised quite frequently for being too quiet! The bully in my workplace is an elderly woman in her 70's with a very vocal and nasty demeanour. On account of her age fellow workers tend to make allowances for her unacceptable comments and behaviour, so it is quite difficult to get anyone to take a stand against it. This woman seems quite normal to a degree in terms of memory, intelligence and the ability to do her job for someone of her age, but you have to wonder if there may be some cognitive deficit on account of her negative and anti-social behaviours. I intend to move on to another job in the coming months, something that I am really looking forward to.

by: Anonymous

Seriously though?

The Mean Girls
by: Anonymous

I am also a quiet person who had suffered from varying levels of bullying in different workplaces. Just because you don't say a lot some people think it gives them the right to tear shreds from you, and they often do it in an insidious way that makes it difficult to prove if you do decide to go to management.

At the moment I'm in a job where I basically just scan documents all day, so there's no reason for me to interact with the people around me. When I'm in this situation I tend to just disappear into myself. To make it worse I sit by myself near another team that I have nothing to do with. Some of the "mean girls" in this team have taken it upon themselves to make nasty comments and jokes about me, just because I don't say much. Not one of these girls by the way has ever attempted to have a conversation with me. It really is soul destroying to be treated like this, especially when it's so pointless. Why do people who fit in and have a lot of friends at work want to make life even harder for those of us who don't?

Anyway the good news is that even if you are bullied at work, every workplace is different, and there are places out there where you will fit in. I met my partner and my best friends through work, so it hasn't all been terrible for me. At the moment I feel like I've taken a step backwards and I'm stuck in this place until I can find something else, but I'm trying to look on it as an opportunity to learn total detachment from these kinds of people. It's only when you care about what they think of you that they have any power over you, and the day that I can truly not give a damn about them and their pathetic comments then I will be free.

by: Anonymous

You may also be an introvert, rather than being shy. People can be quiet and introverted, but not shy (this is how I would describe myself). I have been at my job almost 2 years now and just today yet again one of my co-workers commented on how quiet I am and how can I stand not talking! LOL she talks ALL DAY LONG! She's the polar opposite of me. Oh and I've been looking for another job (I'm bullied by my boss, but not necessarily because I'm quiet, she's just a horrible person), but I just started looking. I don't love my job, but if it weren't for the horrible work environment I would probably stay.

Prejudice in the work place
by: Surprised

I am an introvert and have been denied a promotion because of it. I have excellent experience, excellent performance evaluation but because management doesn't like the fact that I am an introvert I was denied a promotion. The funny thing is that other people on the job are introverts as well yet for some reason they have a problem with my being one. The other being fall under a different ethnic group from myself and it makes it seem as if this is discrimination.

Daily life
by: Anonymous

Every day is hell for me when I go to school nobody talks to me or notices me , I don't tell my family about me being shy, people are always telling me to talk they say I never talk but I do talk to two friends not the closet but still friends who listen to me, I'm in middle school my best friend who seemed to be the only no family member who understood my feelings opinions and self is now gone, I'm all alone but am still lucky to have a close aged cousin who respects me for who I am . I hope this helps anyone else who is in a similar situation

Being Bulley For Being Too Shy
by: Anonymous

There is one thing that I want to hold fast too and that is there is nothing wrong with you. I want you to know that you wonderfully made. The best way to handle mistreatment from co-workers is to confront them. Tell them how you feel, and they will respect you once you stand your ground. It may take your telling them two or more times for them to get the picture. Most people who are outgoing do not understand introverts, and most people dislike and pick on individuals that they do not understand. It could possibly be that they may want to get to know you, and do not know how to form a conversation with you without mocking or jesting. No one deserves to be picked on for who they are.

Bullie Feed on Victims
by: Anonymous

I too am shy and after switching jobs 3 times I am realizing that there is no way out. I'm at my 4th job and when I came to work here I would smile, say Hi and make small talk only to get bullied for being respectful, quiet, hard working and polite. The manual stated that the company thrives on a culture where people are friendly and respectful but it seems that unless you are vulgar and mean and outgoing, you are not part of the company culture. They actually believe they are friendly and have rights to tell quiet people what they think and feel. I've learned that if I try to fight back, the bosses accuse me of not being able to handle stress and that I should treat these difficult co-workers as a challenge. If I don't stand up for myself then they feel they can walk all over me. However, I do see that it bothers them deeply when they see I am comfortable being the shy and quiet nice person I am and as a result, although it makes them attack me more, I know that the reason is because it's bothers them. Usually I don't say anything unless it's to the breaking point and then I'll bite back. Of course, I'm accused of being the bad person but at least I hit their nerve and not them always hitting mine. For example, They always stand near my cubicle and complain about how quiet I am and how I don't talk (even though I try to make small talk). One day I had enough so when they were complaining, I responded "I'm busy doing work" - short and to the point. They knew what I meant and shut up. When they stopped talking I quickly added "why so silent?" Or sometimes I respond to them "well you're here so the pressure is off of me to talk" and again, if they don't say anything, I then complain about them being quiet.
I too like my time at lunch. I want to read books so I can help my special needs child at home. I don't feel like spilling my life story to a bunch of outgoing strangers who gossip and are just waiting for any info they can get to enhance their fun at expense of others. I wish I could find a job where I could be my own boss but reality is I can't. I was bullied through school and now through work and the problem is that society accepts this type of behavior. Maybe I have too many morals and that's why. I hold back because in the long run I don't want to be that negative person that they are. It's hard. I come home and cry, I no longer enjoy my work, I take it out on my family and not a day goes by that I wish I was never born. I wish we victims could form a club and keep each other up somehow.

To much drama at work and favoritism at work
by: Anonymous

I have lot of drama at work people keeping talking about people at work all I do is laugh this one girl at work is very lazy and she is the bosses favorite all the time but she find fault in other people why is that . For awhile I got into trouble about lot of stuff and she don't ever get into trouble at all for nothing I got my class taking away for me and she and the other teacher are in their now because the director said I don't how to control my classroom but other staff members it get really worse we had kids leave because it was so bad that never happened with me I did

They "say if you can't talk"
by: HquietDCfan

I am a quiet person.

I get made fun of at school for being so quiet. 2 days before I did a sponsored Accent Challenge I got the words "If you can't talk then how can you talk in an accent" I was thinking WHAT I do talk but not much. In the end I only got 10p by people in my class, 2 pound by one of my besties (who is in my class) and 3 pounds out of my own money. I didn't actually do the challenge because I had enough of them saying that. I felt like saying "I do talk" but I didn't actually say it at the time.

Im worst kinda of shy
by: meagan

Omg ur going thru da same things im kinda goin thru, im painfully shy n weird, n am now working for first time, n im 22(I kno alittle late but stil),but I keep to myself, but im socially awkward n I feel like my coworkers think im creepy, cuz im super quiet, I get mad at myself for not bein able to express myself or be friendly like normal people, it hurts cuz I feel out of place n dont belong, n wouldnt mind if I got fired, plus I work with my twin sis whos been workin dere for a year n is good at it, im not n am the opposite of her n work in production while she works a differ type shift n catagorie, I feel like not good enough, n hate dealin with my coworkers especially when its break/lunch time, or the opposite gender, I just feel so misunderstood n I kno this is helpful for me to get out of my horrible situation im in of my condition(my shell), also I hav an ugly attitude n am really plain n dont act my age or look like it (seriously I look like an old kid), so its embarrassing cuz I easily can be flustered by somebody n if its a guys especially, even if I dont like him, im really weird around dudes dats why I try avoid dem as much as possible, but dats wats makin me so immature, im not a friendly person, so I feel fake when they say good mornin or etc n try to conversate with me, n all i can think about is overthinkin it n messin it up as always, im lucky to hav dis job, but man my feets hurts n its beat, dis is straining mentally n physically, I hope I get use to it, but im pretty sure im not gona make any friends, ima loner, dorky, weird, hostile, negative, cold, sad son of a bish, n its best people just leave me alone n not bother me n remind me y I am why I am the way I am, sigh oh well. :/

Same thing
by: Anonymous

I am treated like this in High School. Students mock me and insult me because I'm shy. Whenever they come to my desk and insult me anxiety flows in on me and I don't know what to do. :(

Painfully shy
by: Anonymous

I ve never had a problem being shy until noticing It can bother some people and you get picked at by others.
I had a horrible experience at working where people and manager especially were treating me horrible, taking advantage of my quiet nature.
I ve recently have been told by a gp i might suffer from social anxiety. If your shyness is so bad that you avoid doing things or feel bad for it i really suggest talking to your gp cause you might be have social anxiety. Even if it's shyness if causes problems it's worth talking to someone about it.

Don't let them bring you down hun!
by: Mia

Hi there,
I just want to start off by saying there is nothing wrong with YOU. This isn't about YOU. By the sounds of it you are a hard working and honest person. The people who are bullying you, are individuals who are insecure with themselves, and are especially insecure by their work ethic. They see traits in you that they find threatening. Either because they lack those traits or they are simply not as developed as yours. This makes them worried that they will be over shadowed by you in some way. They fear that you will get ahead so they tear you down. Don't let them prevent you from succeeding at your work just because they are too god awful to succeed themselves. Them bullying you is a tactic to bring down their competition. As you've mentioned you stick to your work and get your job done at the end of every day. This is good. This isn't a bad thing. You're not at work to socialize... You CAN socialize but that's not what you are paid to do. So the next time they make those comments, I suggest you keep a diary or journal of every instance of their mockery. That way you have everything down in writing. Get about five accounts of their nonsense. Once you've done that... Report it to HR. You have the full right to work in a mentally and emotionally healthy environment. Whatever they are saying to you, just know it isn't true and it isn't a reflection of who you are. People who bully want to bring you down to their level of insecurity.. Don't let them. It's your HR's job to be aware of the bullying and at least help you overcome it in some way. The next time you hear one of the woman at your work make nasty comments behind your back, you take her aside in a private part in the office when the time is right and tell her you heard what she said and you are not okay with it. Be polite and use only first person pronouns when addressing the issue. Example: "I couldn't help but overhear some comments being said about me and I heard them coming from you earlier. I just want to inform you that what you said hurt my feelings and I don't appreciate it when people make inappropriate comments about me at work. If there is an issue you would like to discuss with me, I'd be happy to talk about it with you. Id like to advise that its important to keep a healthy work environment and comments such as those do not contribute positively." Do not mention you spoke with HR if you have at this point. Simply because its not any of their business. This is a good way to set boundaries with your co workers. You're not a friggin punching bag to these people. You are smart, hard working and a dedicated person. Don't let them bring your confidence down! I'm a quiet person as well at times but if someone treats me like shit for being who I am that's crossing a boundary. I as well have been bullied in the same way as you, and have switched job many times because of it. But there comes a time when running away doesn't work anymore, and eventually you get fed up with the bullshit. Showing them that you are not afraid of being who you are will shut them up. They don't have to like you but they should respect you. Being quiet isn't being voiceless. Don't let them make you think you can't stand up for yourself. As mentioned in some earlier comments, you have the right to work wherever you like to work. Don't let some women who still have their high school mean girl mentality bring you down. From here on out its just noise sweetie ;) you can turn it off any time you like! Stay strong and know you are wonderful person!!!

i am a victim of bullying too
by: sarah

oh my god it like reading about myself. I am exacetly the same - i have had various jobs and been bullied and harrased all my life because i am shy and quiet and don't answer back. i currently work in a insurance brokrs in essex for 18 months now and i get bullied and harrased daily but the bosses and other staff, they think it jokie banter but im not laughing and it hurts me so much, my boss also makes sexualy inapproriate comments at me and touches me inappriately, i clam up and freeze whenever he near me. I want to complain but scared as i don't like confrontation and the thought of talking to hr and managers fills me with dread especailly as it a family business and it the bosses dad who makes me feel uncomfortable. i feel sick evvery day

workplace bullying
by: Susie

Hello, Though retired now, I went through hell at one workplace. What triggered it all I do not know - this person began to make snide comments from almost day one. I was off work for 3 months due to a nervous breakdown. Nothing had changed on my return but I bore the brunt, eventually squaring up to my "enemy". That helped somewhat as things calmed a little but not completely. During this time, I met my future spouse and moved away - what a blessing. If that hadn't happened, I would most certainly have changed jobs if only for the sake of my sanity. Was it my funny looks? Was it envy? Who can tell? Then I was a quiet and nervous person so maybe that was picked up on and used to goad me. Really horrible to think about even after 40 years plus has gone by.

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