Mandy Kloppers

Bullying in the Workplace

 Bullying in the Workplace

My very first job after completing my High School education was in an insurance company as an insurance claims clerk. I was nineteen years old and learning the ropes and did not give a thought to bullying in the workplace that might occur. I started at the bottom and felt exploited when asked to make cups of tea and coffee and take my bosses’ personal belongings to her car. I guess we all have to start somewhere. There was the usual mix of people – the quiet ones, the diligent ones and the very friendly ones. In particular, there was this woman called Cathy. She was in her early thirties with dyed blonde hair and big boobs. She took care of herself despite having scarred skin on her face from acne. She was sexy in her own way and was dating a colleague of mine who was only twenty one years old. She became super friendly with me, asking me to accompany her on work errands and taking me under her wing. I felt flattered that she was interested in me and was so friendly. In my naivety, I lapped it all up.

A month or two later, the owner of the company told me that “my days were numbered” and that I should “begin looking for another job”. I had no idea what he meant and asked him why he was saying this. My boss, David, went on to explain that Cathy had told him that I was not working and that I was spending most of my days talking on the phone attending to personal calls. I was absolutely dumbfounded. This was my first job and I had been so eager to prove myself and show how conscientious I could be. I worked hard and very rarely made personal calls. Cathy had made up outright lies…I didn’t understand why. Bullying in the workplace can often be subtle and covert.

I was still living at home at that stage and arrived home on tears. My mother was so mad at this bullying that she wanted to speak to my boss. I begged her not to and said I would deal with it myself. One part of me felt that I could not resign and let Cathy ‘win’ but another part of me no longer wanted to work for a company that dealt with things in this way. I was very trusting  and accepted people at face value. This wasn’t the only time Cathy caused trouble for me. I had a good friend at the office called Michelle and she had a boyfriend called Ricky who also worked with us. We were all a similar age and one day after work, Ricky and I were chatting innocently in the reception area. Cathy phoned Michelle (Michelle had already left the office) to tell her that Ricky and I were misbehaving and he was being unfaithful. Again – another complete lie. Ricky and I were astounded. I am still good friends with Ricky to this day (he has a lovely beautiful wife whom I get on well with too) and we still laugh at the absurdity of it all.

It had a huge affect on me and made me wary about people’s intentions. I still have no idea why Cathy behaved the way that she did. I can only assume that she was an unhappy person and projected her own inner misery and dissatisfaction about life onto others. There were rumours that she was sleeping with the boss…who knows.

I guess in life, you will undoubtedly come across two faced people with no integrity. I was young and naive and didn’t put up a fight but if that had happened to me a few years later I am sure I would have out up a fight. I resigned in the end but I still have a few good friends from working there, so some good did come out of the whole experience.

If you feel you are being exploited at work in some way or that someone is trying to make your life hell. Instead of acting as of everything is fine and hoping it will blow over, confront the person involved. Don’t be afraid of a bully. Ask them outright why they are behaving in such a way. If they deny their actions, let them know that any future unwelcome behaviour will be reported. Keep notes of what is happening with the dates and locations if possible. Never be frightened of a bully. More often than not they are cowards and the rely on the soft nature of the people they bully. I wish someone had told me this. Some people are just messed up…keep your distance and try not to get embroiled in their chaotic world.

Mandy X