Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Bullies on the job

  1. #1
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    10,197

    Bullies on the job

    I continually find myself defending my existence (my work, really) to what I call the B-squared (bitter bully) - I feel like I am a magnet for the type and I feel it from them right at the introduction handshake -

    I keep my head down and do my work but whatever I do, they are on my case and if I do make a mistake, no matter how small or large, they are on it without mercy

    It's exhausting and I feel like I constantly question my existence on earth from it which I know is silly but I do it anyway - living with depression doesn't help

    It's been this way since I was a kid so obviously I give off a scent they gravitate towards

    Even if I am right in the situation, it doesn't matter, they say it's wrong - I am working with some great other member communities who love what I do and are great to work with so though I am introspective about what I may be doing wrong, I seem to be able to do right for other folks so it can't necessarily be all me - but it's a livelong trend so I do know I am doing something wrong to attract these types

    How do you handle bullies when they are:
    1. co workers
    2. Board/committee members
    3. clients
    Kim Wexler: Either you fit the jacket... or the jacket fits you.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Remote command post at local bar
    Posts
    11,411
    Sadly I handled the bully coworkers at my last job wrong. Hence, I'm in Kansas. At least I think it's part of the reason. They liked to run to the director for every mistake you made or every time you wouldn't help them. One was a secretary so I just explained that it's your job, not mine or I would show her how to do it instead of doing it for her. The other was the development services boss (I'll give Rygor her name and new west valley town if you want to mess with her). She didn't like when I pointed out the mistake was in her department not routing something in time, not the planner missing the deadline.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Central Virginia
    Posts
    1,069
    This sucks. I don't think any of us can just super easily brush it off. It's exhausting regardless.

    How do you handle bullies when they are:
    co workers - I think direct confrontation works best, although it's super uncomfortable. "Do you realize you're coming across as being really abrasive right now? I would like to work with you to resolve this, but I can't do that when I'm feeling personally attacked."
    Board/committee members - How does this play out? The best option would be to try to reframe things into a more constructive statement before responding in my mind, but that depends on the nature of the bullying
    clients - Fire them. I mean, if it's up to you, it's an option.

    One strategy that works for me, and it honestly isn't always intentional, is that I just interpret things super literally. So I'm constantly asking for clarification or what they mean or if they can give me an example. And sometimes having to actually spell out how big of a jerk they are will help them back off.

    Again, those are all dependent on the individual circumstances where the bullying is happening, but those are some ideas to at least help you keep your sanity. I hate jerks.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,851
    The closest thing to bullies were actually two female coworkers in two separate incidents, both fresh out of college with zero experience but overly ambitious, who tried to bully their way over me to get ahead.

    Let's just say bullying with the gender card backfired in two different ways.

    The first was a junior planner fresh out of college with zero experience (who also bullied her way into a job interview). Barely a year into the job, she complained to the company that I was creating a hostile work environment because I was making too many redlines on her drawings (yes, she was a nutcase). I was put on a 90 day probation (although I probably could have been fired because she was also a minority). I worked with a coach during that time and luckily got off probation. I kept my job as a senior designer, which stood in her way from advancing up the career ladder. I was always professional / courteous towards her after that. For a coupe of years, she tried to charm me to give her choice design assignments, but I assigned them to other planners or did them myself. She knew she damaged her reputation by pulling that stunt. After a few years she gave up and left for another job. Two weeks after she left I was (finally) promoted to planning manager. Good riddance!

    The second bully was a female junior engineer who questioned my competency as a credentialed planner, both internally and in front of clients. We started at the company at the same time, and only worked together on a single project where I reported to her boss, the project manager, also female. The PM and I got along great, but the junior engineer constantly questioned everything I did and bossed me around constantly. I also had to teach land planning basics to the junior engineer, which was hell. Things only got worse when the PM left the company, and the junior engineer largely took over managing responsibilities, but no formal promotion to project manager (largely due to her atrocious interpersonal skills. She had a reputation in the company for bullying anyone on her team who was older, more experienced, who was not afraid to call her out (myself included). The bullying and micromanaging didn't stop even after I was promoted to manager in my own right. She treated me as subordinate even though I was in a different department and reported to her in a project capacity only. Unlike her, I separated out my personal feelings from my professional relationship, but it was still very stressful. I discussed my concerns privately with my own boss and with HR separately but never filed any complaints. I fixed this mess by getting off the project, although it took impeccable timing without shirking my responsibilities as a manager. I haven't had to interface with that engineer since

    Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, especially in this politically-correct climate. Thank goodness neither of them bullied me with sexual harassment (otherwise I'd whip out the gay card, gurl). I thoroughly enjoy working with females and my mom and sister are wonderful examples of hard working, courteous, professionals. But man, there are some bad apples out there!
    Last edited by nrschmid; 11 Oct 2017 at 7:20 PM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2015
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    22
    I occasionally ate at lunch with some inspectors. They are blue collar people. They would take pot shots at other planners all the time. Making fun of them for being late and lazy. Putting down the codes they wrote. Saying how comically easy a planner's job was to theirs.

    I thought about why are they so hard on other people but not me. I am a planner as well, what was the difference?

    The difference was that I spent more time with them. They got to see my work ethic and got to know me personally. They saw me as a peer, and not some irresponsible millennial they didn't know. Since I spent time with them, they couldn't dehumanize me.


    I personally haven't been bullied. I chalk that up to me being a big and tall white guy. So I don't have too much experience dealing with it other than the anecdote above.

    I don't know how I would deal with a combative co-worker. That sounds like a nightmare.

    I'll probably have to deal with crazy board/commissioners eventually. It's a bit more palatable since you're seeing them on a biweekly basis. I envision myself trying to get to know this crazy person better pre/post meeting so it's harder for them to lash out and dehumanize me.

    For clients, I think it's less of a faux pas to tattle on them to your boss. At the places I worked at, the bosses would come to my aid when I asked for help with difficult clients. Get someone else on your side. Maybe that's applicable for you?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    196
    ^Hate to break it to you, but those inspectors probably also made fun of you - just not to your face.

    And I've had a fair amount of office bullies around me and I've found that out-maneuvering them politically (and keeping your nose clean) is the best way to handle them. If you try to combat them directly, you'll only play into their hand - i.e. he 'harassed' me; he's openly 'hostile'; he talks 'down' to me; etc, etc. You can't win that way - play it smarter, not harder. Either you just ignore what they have to say, work around them, or start documenting their behavior and bring it up with HR/management formally. They (bullies) have to get their nose bopped from time-to-time in order to realize that their behavior is not okay or professional.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Pegguy11's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Canada MB
    Posts
    56
    In my experience working as an assistant to a local city Councillor, municipal workplaces can unfortunately have lots of drama. I find the best approach is head down, work hard, avoid the jerks best you can. When that fails and somebody is being an irate jerk to me, either a constituent, Councillor or other assistant I generally just let em rant, listen to em, and then try and kill them with kindness.
    My go to approach with that is being direct, yet not aggressive. I'll say something like "Hey Irate @ss I understand that this is clearly important as your being very passionate about it. But your language, tone of voice, criticisms, approach etc doesn't let me hear you. all I'm hearing is your anger / passion. In order for me to listen / fix this I need you to calm down so I can hear you and we can work this out"
    A lot of times this makes people stop and re-evaluate how they're treating me (especially angry old constituents), and they generally start to act like a decent human being.
    Hope this helps! Stay strong
    Without geography you're nowhere - Jimmy Buffett

  8. #8
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Remote command post at local bar
    Posts
    11,411
    The inspectors might have just been giving you a hard time. I've done it with all the inspectors I've worked with and I get along with them because I either give them a hard time right back or give them lines about how I'm a lazy planner and it's not my fault you're not smart enough to be one too. Typical boys club stuff. Then again, if the inspectors actually have some hard feelings toward coworkers, that's something management might want to work on because it creates silos and bad working conditions. Gotta have that team attitude going on.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 7
    Last post: 25 Jun 2012, 5:26 PM