7 surprising signs you're the office's biggest bully


It's easy to justify our actions when people judge us harshly. But does your bad behaviour mean you're a bully?

While it is believed that we’re our own worst critic, it' not always the case. Because we’re uniquely aware of our intentions, it becomes easy to justify any controversial behaviour, thereby rendering the critic inside our head powerless.

Making excuses for ourselves when we hurt another’s feelings isn’t difficult at all. Cady from Mean Girls didn’t think she was a bully either, and that's because she gradually morphed into it. You’d have to do some pretty brutal introspection to admit to being a bully, and you'd have to answer these questions honestly:

• Have you dismissed a co-worker for being insignificant?

• Do you swear at co-workers?

• Have you done these in front of others?

• Have you realised colleagues don't approach you for advice?

• Can you describe the HR office decor in detail, since you’re always in there for a 'chat' about your management techniques?

• Has anyone confronted you, accused you of starting rumours and being unnecessarily unpleasant?

• Have you ever been accused of being a bully?

Read: What are you really telling your colleagues?

If you need a little help with the introspection part, perhaps you identify with how the office bully tends to justify their meanness:

1. You are the brains in every brainstorm meeting.

Everyone can’t wait for you to pitch your idea so you come prepared with quite a few. And of course, it’s always better than everyone else’s.  So much so that the meeting would be a lot more productive if you spoke the whole time - which you try to tell them chance you get.

2. You think you're the smartest person in the workplace

And you have no qualms with pointing it out to whoever will listen. It's okay to do this because you always do everything right, so you know what you're talking about. And when something goes wrong, it’s only because an idiot interfered and caused it. If they did their job properly, you would've been able to do yours too.

3. You make sure you get credit for your work.

And sometimes, if possible, even for work you haven’t done. Well, it is group work and even though you didn’t do a lot of the work, your contribution is what held everything together so you're just being forthcoming with the all facts. Like, if you didn’t offer your USB, there never would’ve been a presentation!

4. You love making people laugh.

And teasing others just happens to be your forte. Sometimes the one being teased doesn’t think you’re funny but they’re just too sensitive. People with no sense of humour are so unnecessary.

5. You’re part of the popular group at work.

And you try not to associate yourself with people outside it. Anyone that’s a little strange has no business being seen around you - just in case people may think you're as simple and mediocre as them. They don't say birds of a feather flock together for nothing!

6. Your life is more interesting than everyone else’s.

And you love to share your amazing experiences, and bask in the glorious ooohs and aaahs that follow. You can’t help that your life is more fascinating than theirs, right? Oh, your Christmas tree fell over? Well, that’s nothing! My tree fell through the window, hit the dog, killed 3 mosquitos and broke the parrot’s cage. We were chasing birds and cleaning feathers whole holiday. Like, just this morning I found a red feather in bag. The dog’s okay but the vet says... and you can go on and on because it really is just unbelievable and super entertaining. Three cheers for team bonding!

Read: Are YOU the annoying co-worker?

7. You have your colleagues all figured out.

And you’re not going to allow them to do better than you at anything. And because you’re better at everything, you’re automatically better for the company. If the company is to survive and progress, you need to do what’s best for the company, its projects and its clients. Even if that means ensuring that you take it upon yourself to get unworthy co-workers removed from projects and positions you’ll be better for. And it’s not your fault they fall for temptations or stumble over obstacles.

It’s not like you’re starting the rumours or purposefully manipulating people’s emotions. Even if you were, they’re grown and should be able handle it, right? And you aren’t that cold hearted, it’s just that these are the big leagues and you must be able to swim with the sharks, right?

Wrong! If you’re nodding your head screaming Exactly! Oh my word, Right? and That’s what I said!, then you might very well be the office bully.

Be careful of what you consider to be office banter, a personality clash, harmless teasing, strict management techniques, playful eye-rolling or blunt feedback. As soon as someone’s feelings are hurt, even if you think they’re over reacting, unnecessary or being too sensitive, you have crossed a line. While school bullies resort to violence and threats of physical harm, work bullying is more often psychological manipulation. 

Read: EQ vs IQ: Emotional Intelligence matters too

Remember that EQ is just as important, if not more so, as IQ and your behaviour could hurt your career aspirations. Ask your co-workers what they think - their immediate reaction (look, don’t listen) will tell you all you need to know.

If you really want to get ahead at work, in your department, industry or career, Careers24 Advice can show you how.