Many times people don’t even realize that their boss is bullying them. Instead, they falsely believe that their boss is just tough or pushes his workers to get results. But workplace bullying can have  significant consequences and can impact your health and overall wellbeing. Therefore, it’s important to be able to distinguish between a tough boss and a bullying boss. Here are some signs that your boss is a bully. Your boss is a bully if he:

Verbally abuses you. For instance, a bullying boss humiliates you in front of others. He also might shout, swear or yell at you on a consistent basis or make offensive jokes at your expense. Verbally abusive bosses also make snide remarks or offer unfair criticism about you or your work.

Intimidates you on a regular basis. Intimidating behavior might include threatening to fire you as a way to maintain power and control. It also can include threatening gestures or threats to harm you physically.

Questions your adequacy and your commitment. Bosses question your adequacy by belittling your opinions and ideas. This may be done in private or in front of others. They also may blame you for problems at work while boasting that their skills are responsible for good outcomes. And they may question your commitment to the job unless you work long hours and sacrifice personal time.

Intrudes on your privacy. Sometimes bosses will spy on you or even stalk you. They also may listen in on your private conversations, open your mail and go so far as to tamper with your personal belongings or your work equipment.

Undermines your work. Bosses who bully set unrealistic deadlines that are bound to cause failure. They also change project guidelines on a regular basis causing extra work and increasing the chance for failure. They also withhold necessary information in order to cause failure and sabotage your success by making your work late or incomplete. Refusing to sign off on projects or refusing to provide needed feedback are other tactics used to undermine work.

Impedes your success. Bullies don’t want to see you succeed because they will lose control over you. As a result, they may punish you for mistakes that are not yours or bring up past mistakes in order to shift blame during a discussion. They also may make it impossible for you to apply for a promotion, a transfer or additional training. They may even over-control or micromanage your work or projects.

Spreads rumors about you. Bullies often go to great lengths to make others look bad. As a result, they may gossip with others about your work, your appearance, your health or your personal life.

Isolates you at work. Bullying bosses might exclude you socially. They leave you off party lists and don't include you in company outings, sporting events or after-hours meetings. They also may schedule meetings when they know you have a conflict in your schedule. And they may go so far as refusing to allow you to attend work meetings or work lunches.

If you are experiencing any of these abuses, it’s important to recognize that this is workplace bullying and it’s not a normal part of any workplace environment. Repetitive verbal abuse, exploitation, micromanagement and other activities that repeatedly demean you or are discourteous will eventually take a toll on you.

Possible Signs of a Bully

Exhibiting poor impulse control. Bullies with poor impulse control are quick-tempered, tend to yell and use profanity. They also are prone to using insults and calling names.

Attempting to monitor, control or isolate other workers. Workplace bullies may hold surprise meetings as a means to humiliate another person. They also may make surprise appearances in an employee’s work area in an attempt to catch them doing something they shouldn’t be doing. And, they conveniently leave others out of important meetings or e-mails.

Sabotaging the work of others. Bullies tend to discount the accomplishments of others and take credit for things they didn’t do. They also may withhold valuable information from other employees in an effort to sabotage their work performance. And they threaten subordinates with job loss, set unreasonable schedules, make unrealistic work demands and squash attempts at promotion.

Appearing self-centered or inconsiderate. Bullies are the ones who dominate meetings with interruptions, sarcasm and insults. They also consistently question and criticize other people’s ideas. Additionally, bullies use non-verbal cues to control other employees such as coughing, rolling their eyes, squeaking their chair, tapping a pencil on the table, tapping their foot impatiently and so on.

Talking behind the backs of co-workers. Watch out for people who seem to be “in-the-know” about other people. Some of what they say may be fabricated rumors and gossip. Bullies tend to make snide remarks about other people, make fun of people and criticize others.


Learning to recognize bullying will help you learn not to blame yourself for someone else’s behavior. Additionally, you will be less likely to take responsibility for something that isn’t your fault. Remember, bullying doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. Instead, bullying is a choice that is made by the bully.

Additionally, remember that workplace bullying is a widespread issue that affects millions of prople. As a result, keep the situation in perspective and don’t let it affect your self-esteem or health. Find outside support for what you are experiencing and look for options for your situation whether it is reporting your boss, filing a complaint or getting outside counseling.

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