Sunday, 4 November 2012

How I ended up being nearly 30 and bullied

At first I really thought I was imagining it. 

It was to be expected - as the new person you feel conspicuous and it's probably normal to not be sure whether people like you or how you're coming across.

So when I suspected that one person one my team had a bit of a problem with me I decided to put it to the back of my head. Sure it seemed to me that if I tried to join in a conversation she was having with someone else she would immediately stop talking. Sure it seemed that when she did talk to me directly it was to tell me that I was doing something wrong. Sure she didn't really seem to say hello or goodbye to me. But to be honest the job is so massively pressurised and demanding that I just didn't have much time to really think about it.

The point I realised it wasn't just in my head was when a team member came in one morning and announced he and his girlfriend were having a baby. He produced a scan picture which he handed to Her. We all chattered excitedly asking when it was due/what did they want/how long had they known etc etc. She looked at the scan and as I sat next to her I held out my hand to look at the blurry black and white picture. At which point She got up and walked around the back of me and handed it to our team leader.

Hmm. Strange.

Then there was the actual real-life note passing that happened. Yes I am being serious. She wrote a note about something and passed it to the other people on the team. Not to me though. I'm confident it wasn't anything about me - it was just something that I wasn't allowed to know about.

But I still didn't really work out what it was she was doing. I felt like I should know. Like there should be a name for it but I couldn't quite grasp at what that was.

And to be honest I was so busy trying to do my job that I didn't really care. I just thought She was a bitch  that should really know better, considering she was pushing 50.

Then there was Cakegate. She brought in cake and shared it out with everyone. No wait. Not quite everyone. Everyone but me. At first I was too stunned to really be upset about it - I could only laugh about it because it was so unbelievable to me that someone could do something like that.

And let me tell you, Cakegate didn't just happen once. It didn't even happen two or three times, it was at least once a week.

Then there was Phonegate.

There are various lines at work that you log in to - you log into your group-line so you can receive calls direct from your solicitors and then there's a main-line, which, as it suggests means you take calls from the main number and put them through accordingly. As a new starter you're not logged on to the phones in the beginning until you find your feet. A few weeks ago my team leader asked me to log into the group-line as a start off and that's what I've been doing.

So when I came back from my lunch on Wednesday and suddenly began getting calls from other solicitors I thought something a little weird was going on. It wasn't a big deal, funnily enough I'm capable of coping with some phone calls, what with me not being a complete idiot, but then I realised...

Whilst I was sat in that miserable little kitchen eating my miserable lunch and whiling away my miserable half hour lunchbreak, someone had got up, gone over to my phone and logged me into the main-line.

I felt grubby. The thought that unbeknownst to me there had been people bitching about me openly and then essentially victimizing me. And we're in an open plan office so it wouldn't have just been my "teammates" it would have been people on other teams that saw what happened. And then, when I walked back to my desk everyone would have been looking at me and I was completely unaware. It was a truly horrible feeling.

That night I was on the phone with my sister and told her about all the things that had been happening. Truth be told I was telling her because I knew that she would most likely tell me to stop being so silly and sensitive and just get on with it but she knocked the stuffing out of me when she said "That's workplace bullying. You should start keeping a log and you need to talk to someone."

Wait. What?

Holy shit it was bullying. That feeling of being deliberately excluded from a group. That feeling that people are out to get you. That sick feeling that you get every morning before you walk in. Those aren't just normal "I work in a crappy job" feelings, they are the feelings of a victim.

Nearly 30 and being bullied. I couldn't believe it.

And then I thought "Actually, fuck that. I am nearly 30 and I am most certainly not being bullied." 

That night I sat down and wrote an e-mail to my team leader expressing my disappointment about Phonegate and the general things that had being going on. I didn't mention the B-word, I thought I would let Her actions speak for themselves.

I wasn't really sure how seriously the e-mail would be taken. After all this is not a particularly employee focused company - they don't even pay you when you're sick for goodness' sake. But I was to be surprised, because the next day I went into a meeting with my team leader and she told me how mortified she was to get my e-mail because she had had no idea that the tampering with my phone had happened. Not only were they bullying me but they were showing our team leader massive levels of disrespect - after all it was up to her whether or not I went on the mainline. She told me she was going to find out who had done it and would be speaking to our line manager about the situation.

On Friday I was called into a meeting with my line manager who again reiterated how incredibly annoyed they were with Her and that they were so sorry that I'd been upset and been unhappy. My manager told me that She was going to be moved teams as a punishment for Her behaviour but asked if I would like to move teams. I did contemplate it because I thought it might be easier but then I thought "Why should I? I've done nothing wrong" so I declined the offer.

Then She was taken upstairs. I was actually shaking because I had no idea what was going to happen. I remained rigid in my chair. I knew she was back down but I don't face her so couldn't see her. Her snivelling told me she was there however and the snivelling continued for the 2 hours I had left at work. It was horrendous.

And of course now no-one else is speaking to me.

I went home feeling horrendous. This wasn't really a battle I wanted to fight in the first place and by confronting the bullying I had now placed myself in an even more awful situation. But I've decided to look at it long term. I can't believe this behaviour is for me and me only, I imagine she does it to every new starter and has done it to others in the past. And they might be wee 17/18 year olds in their first jobs who won't be as brave as me. Now at least they will be watching Her so She can't do it again.

My whole weekend has been awful. I can only imagine how awful the atmosphere is going to be when I walk in tomorrow and I really don't feel brave enough to face it at the moment. 

But I have no choice but to go in and face my fate whilst all the time questioning - what on earth have I done to deserve all of this?


  1. I imagine that all you have 'done' is be the lovely, funny, friendly and capable person that you clearly are! I'm not making excuses for her behaviour, but I can only think that people like her are very insecure and it's unfortunate that it turns them into massive bullying beotches. Not wanting to generalise but I also find that in the workplace it can be women hovering around the 50 mark who are more likely to act this way and often towards people around our age - maybe we're more of a threat as we don't need to be 'shown the ropes' as much as those just out of school or uni and so they don't see us as either peers to be befriended or youngsters who can be mentored. I don't know, but either way you've definitely done the right thing here. You shouldn't have to put up with that and hopefully this will be a wake up call to her and make her realise how she has been behaving. Hopefully now she is out of the team others might be able to look at things a bit more objectively. Good luck tomorrow and I hope things won't be as bad as you fear x

  2. Bloody hell! Good on you for taking a stand! If your team mates don't speak to you and address you look them in the eye and say very loudly so everyone can hear: 'What? You're not speaking to me because I stood up to being bullied? How would you like it?' If they are all anti you anyway it isn't going to do you any harm and it might shame them into being decent.

    I'd just grit your teeth and get on with it and keep looking for a new job. You never might pass eventually. Still, what a bitch and bitches! Makes me so cross for you! Just remember we're all on your side - stand strong!!!! xxx

  3. Workplace bullying is absolutely sickening. I'm so proud you didn't let her get away with it. In my first job after uni I experienced it and I ended up quitting with no job to go to because I couldn't stand being bullied by my boss and her cronies. Obviously with age you become a bit more aware that this behaviour is not acceptable. This woman was jealous because this job is not your life as it is hers. You are doing this interim to make ends meet while you look for your "proper job". She knows you are capable of so much more than she is and she is threatened. She is doing it because she knows what we know, you are better than her and it frightens and threatens her and the only way she can feel good about herself again is to make you feel worse.

    Hopefully she will remember how much the humiliation of a public telling off hurts and think twice before she does it again.

    If you feel uncomfortable with your colleagues next time, remember you have probably freed them from this woman as much as you have freed yourself. You are a fighter, a pole dancing yogic ninja. They should bow in your presence for freeing them from tyranny. Hold your head up high and KNOW you are better than them.

  4. Bullying is weak when you're at school, and even worse when it's happening in a workplace. I can never get my head around the fact that grown-up people can actually be so ridiculous that they treat other people like sh*t!

    I'm sorry you've had to go through that, but fear not; it'll get better.

    For months, I was bullied by my former line manager, nonetheless. And I've not been the only one she's done this with. So, I complained to my line manager who spoke to her line manager, and things were fine for a week. I had to thank her though, because of her childish behaviour, I had the push I needed to apply for a better job in a different department of the company. And I can breathe again. HR are aware of the situation and are constantly monitoring it, especially considering that a new girl will be starting in my position next week. She hasn't received her come-uppance yet, but that's because I do not wish to go via the official grievance routine, knowing that she will be fired as a result. I don't want to be the reason someone loses a job...

    Back to your situation.. Because she's been moved away, it sends a clear message that she has done something wrong. If her little buddies have any brains at all, they'll get a grip soon and start treating you like a normal person...

    Hope you'll find yourself in a happier place soon!

  5. That is hideous. Well done for saying something. I experienced something like this once when I was 19 and didn't know better than to just take it. It was only a 3-month contract so I always had that to cling to. Good luck finding something better.

  6. You didn't do anything to deserve this. She probably did this to every new starter.

    If I take cakes into work, it's because I'm nice. She didn't take them into work to be nice to everyone, it was to be mean to the new girl, not YOU, but the new girl.

    Well done on standing up to her.


  7. How utterly horrible. You definitely did the right thing. Big hug to you.

  8. That so absolutely terrible, I am so sorry to hear that this type of thing goes on but I know it does- I know people like this who STILL want to be the bitchy in-crowd from high-school when they are adults and should know better, it's a power trip and it's awful. Well done for doing something about it, you should feel proud that you've stopped this happening to anyone else, because it could have continued with other people. I hope and pray it is ok for you at work after this. x

  9. I'm sorry all this is happening to you. Good for you for standing up to her, l hope it works.
    Let us know how you get on this week but do know we are all behind you. (((hugs))).

  10. Bullying can happen to anyone at any age, and only a couple of years ago did I work that one out. It's horrid, unnecessary, but worst of all, this continues my theory that some people never mature or grow up any more than when they're 14 & 15. Head up, hope Monday wasn't hopelessly horrific. I am sending every ounce of job seeking good wishes I have in your direction. We all need a break, and nobody more than you deserves it right now.

  11. Oh my word. This is dreadful. You were so right to make a stand. Thank goodness you're out of there, I can't imagine how good it felt to give your notice!

  12. Her behavior is inexcusable and don't even get me started on the rest of the team. I was bullied at school and despise any form of bullying. With age comes the confidence to stand up to the bullies whether it's you they're picking on or someone else. Well done for speaking out. x

  13. Being bullied in workplace or in any place is not good to experience and reporting it to your team leader is definitely a wise decision. Talking to someone is the best solution to solve this problem, because if not, it can continue and make your life miserable in your entire stay on the company. Anyway, I hope it will never happen to you again, but if it does, you definitely know what to do.

    Sherlene @


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