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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Is This Workplace Bullying?

Hi, I am a teacher at an English language school. A teacher has made a formal complaint of bullying against another teacher. This teacher, let's call her Mary, is most definitely abrasive, aggressive, confrontational and rude, but is she really a bully? Here are three interactions I had with her on a single day last week:

1) I was working on lessons and spread out a little bit too much on the limited amount of table top work space available, which happened to be next to one of the computers. Mary (who has her own desk) sat down at the computer, (decided I was infringing on her space), turned to me and said, "Do you need more room? Let me make you more room." She then got up, moved to the other side of where I was working, and started pushing papers and trays of other people away, saying, "Here, let me make some more room for you."

2) Classes were over for the day, staff room copier was broken, I was using the supply room copier, Mary walked in with three or four open books in her
hand, stood there and said "Are you almost finished?" I said "yes" and continued my copying. Less than 30 seconds later she said, "Is this for
today?" I said "no". She said "because my students are waiting for the things I need to copy." (Homework or something but stuff that she obviously should have prepared before class). I said "I'm done" (which I wasn't) and walked out.

3) A bit later, in the staff room, I asked my boss about class discussion topics for the coming week. (They are listed on a chart which is on the wall behind her desk and very hard to see). Mary, standing there, interrupts and said to my boss "Why are you mollycoddling people? They can find this stuff by themselves. Why do you need to hold people's hands? You have other things to do." I replied to my boss, "I'm sorry, do you mind stopping what you're doing, standing up, and moving away from your desk, so I can get closer to the wall and see the chart?" My boss laughed and told me what the topics were. Mary said something about "It's just because I need to ask you (my boss) something."

She pretty much behaves this way to everyone (I have studiously avoided her in the past but am now working more hours so am around her more). But is this bullying or more what Wikipedia defines as "workplace incivility"?

Comments for Is This Workplace Bullying?

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One tack to take
by: Trinity

Hi, it sounds as if Mary has some problems of her own. It sounds as if she is under a lot of stress about something, could be something out of work, and she is taking her bitterness and frustration out on everyone else. You could mention to your boss that you have had some abrasive encounters with Mary and you are concerned that her behaviour is making you stressed and perhaps, confidentially, he could refer her to the Employment Assistance Program for counselling. It sounds like she is a bubble about to burst. At least then your boss will be aware that something is amiss. Do try and say something positive about her to your boss, you don't want to come across as attacking her. Good luck.

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