My boss is always making me feel small about myself. I have worked there for three years and in all that time practically everything I say, he will rip apart, mimic and make a big joke out of. I don’t think my colleagues think it’s funny, but they laugh along anyway. If I have to walk past him, he always mimes there not being enough space and fighting me for it, it’s humiliating. Some mornings I feel like I can’t face going in to work. I know I shouldn’t let it affect me so much but he is my line manager so I have to see him every day, and it is really getting me down. – Jonathan, Kingston
People think bullying in the workplace is easy to identify because it is brash, loud, out there and obvious. However, in reality, most bullying is sneaky and insidious and a series of mind games to make you feel bad about yourself that you might not even notice at first. So, it comes to mind that this might be what is happening here.
The main reason I say this is that it sounds as if this behaviour is occurring on a prolonged and repetitive basis. I am not saying that you should do this, but if you were to go to HR with this, that’s the first thing they would try to establish.
It sounds as if you are getting pretty demoralised and demotivated so it could be time to confide in someone. Is there someone at work you really get on with that you could have a quiet chat with and ask if they have noticed that you are the butt of his jokes and what they think about it? This will help you to get it into perspective and decide whether to take it any further.
As unthinkable as this sounds, the next thing you should do is try to talk to your boss. It is possible that he has no idea how this behaviour affects you and will stop when you raise it with him. Most workplace issues are resolved informally by people talking things over.