My colleague looked bewildered as I rushed into her office with tears in my eyes, but then she quickly understood that I needed to compose myself before going back to work.
Unfortunately, I know only too well that bullying doesn’t stop at the school gates when they close behind us for the final time. It can also emerge in adult friendship groups, families, or in my case, the workplace.
I had been working at the company for about a year when my manager announced her retirement. It came out of the blue and I was immediately worried about the future. Her manager, Helen (not her real name), would now manage me until her role was filled.
I became aware that my manager had protected me from Helen until now, shielding me from the stories of how she upset our colleagues and from sharing more than polite chit-chat with her. All of a sudden, I was in close contact with Helen on a daily basis, and she was the head of the company.
Helen made it very clear that as I was a junior staff member, she didn’t really respect me. She told me to be quiet during meetings. She was patronising as we chatted over lunch with colleagues. She belittled me for not having a PhD.
I felt completely powerless and my confidence ebbed away. I spoke to HR, but despite their supportive murmurings, nothing could be done. Helen was the boss. There had been numerous complaints about her, but no action was ever taken. Plus recruiting my previous manager’s replacement had come to a halt.
The good news is that this happened several years ago and I can still remember my voice shaking with excitement when I told Helen that I was resigning!
If you are ever bullied at work, seek support from friendly colleagues but most of all, start applying for new roles. Put your self and your wellbeing first.