We hear a lot these days about bullying, mostly with teenagers. There seems to be a news story every week with some tragic incident due to cyber bullying. As parents, this is very upsetting and of course, no one wants their children to be subject to this type of behavior, but how many of us are also the target of bullying at work? Do you work for a corporate bully?

According to Susan Annunzio, CEO of the Center for High Performance in Chicago, here are the warning signs:

  • If you disagree with him/her, you are labeled “incompetent”, “risk-averse”, a “naysayer”.
  • They fall in love with an idea, position or deal and won’t listen to anyone else’s point of view.
  • In your meetings, there is little room for disagreement or debate. It’s their way or the highway.
  • Your accomplishments are never recognized.
  • You are afraid to let him/her know any bad news, so you don’t say anything.
  • You must always acknowledge their being right.
  • They have a sense of superiority.
  • You are always blamed when things go wrong. They never take any credit for their part.
  • They never admit mistakes or apologize.
  • You always seem to be in this game of “gotcha” and under a microscope.

We are often outraged when we hear about children being bullied, so I am curious how many of you subject yourselves to this every day in the workplace?

Experts will tell you to not get caught up in the  emotions of these toxic relationships and make sure that you take care of yourself first and foremost and focus on your work and have gratitude for the other wonderful things in your life, but how do you do that? We spend so much of our time at work; so much of our identity and self-esteem is related to our performance, so it is easy to see how working with a bully can have a damaging effect to our health and well-being and also our careers. If you feel stuck in a bad situation, one that you don’t have a lot of control to change, you can literally “quit” giving your best, speaking your opinions, bringing any creativity and enthusiasm to your work. This is toxic to your career and your future.

So what do you do? How do you work around bullies at work? Well, if detaching emotionally is still not helping you and you find this is affecting your health, sleep, and happiness, I would initiate an exit plan and begin to look for other opportunities either in the company or with another organization. It’s a shame. Maybe this company is great and you have a pension and you don’t want to really leave. You feel like a victim. Sometimes you need to make a move. It may not be what you wanted, but you have only one life and one career. Find a place where your unique value and talent is appreciated and you will thrive professionally and personally.

Do you work for a corporate bully? Are you doing anything about it?

Tune in this Wednesday at noon EDT to GPS Your Career: A Woman’s Guide to Success, when I discuss executive bullying with my guest, Susan Annunzio.