Six Signs You May Be the Office Bully

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Robert Sutton is author of the new book, 'The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't' in which he examines everything you could possibly want to know about "a-holes" in the workplace -- from what makes people act like bullies to techniques for dealing with them. Here's a look at six of the most common actions. How do you measure up?


1. You dish out personal insults

You might be an office bully if your ability to provide constructive criticism to your employees or co-workers comes out in the form of an insult. Instead of starting a productive conversation about the problem, you jump right in with, "You call this your best work? My dog can do a better job than this." What's worse, you don't even consider that you words could be hurting the other person's feelings.


2. You publicly demean others

Since you started at your job, your goal has been to climb the corporate ladder as fast as possible, no matter how many people you knock down on your way there. When you see people who have higher positions, you make it a point to demean their status. You might be an office bully if the only way you can boost yourself up is by forcing others down.


3. You frequently interrupt others

Whenever anyone other than yourself starts talking, you feel the urge to add your two cents. After all, what you have to say is much more intelligent and thought-out -- according to you. You might be an office bully if, instead of waiting for other people to finish their sentences, you cut them off and take over the rest of the conversation, spouting your ever-more important point.


4. You give people dirty looks

You don't believe in smiling at people in the hallways, or at least you've never tried it. Instead, when you see a colleague walking toward you, your mind immediately skips to the last annoying thing he did or how ugly you think his tie is. You might be an office bully if your thoughts come out in the form of a glare, a wince, or worse yet, a deranged smile.


5. You take sarcasm too far

So, you think you're pretty funny and you want other people to know it. Problem is, you're no longer funny "ha-ha" -- you're funny "uh-oh." As soon as your playful banter during the meeting stops getting laughs and starts making people turn red, you've probably gone too far. You might be an office bully if your sarcastic personality becomes an all-out teasing fest.


6. You've mastered non-verbal attacks

Just because you don't verbalize your nastiness, doesn't mean you aren't communicating it in other ways, like e-mail. Written threats and intimidations can be just as harmful to co-workers and may spawn an office-wide e-mail war. You might be an office bully if you use e-mail messages to flame your co-workers or employees, and end up clogging their inboxes with your ridiculing remarks.


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