As you might have already noticed, I post about bulling quite regularly. You can find all the posts about it under ‘workplace bullying’ tag, although obviously it doesn’t just apply to work.
My experience of a workplace bullying comes from working for a large housing association called Home Group where I really observed how the bully operates, although it took me a while to understand how some specific actions were performed, especially as she made loads of effort to appear professional.
After working there for a few months I had frequent issues with our tenants laughing at me out of nowhere, when I wasn’t even trying to interact with them. It was so strange and it wasn’t just once or twice, but multiple times by various people. I was sure my bully must have told them something, but I had no idea what it could be.
Before Home Group and me realising I’m autistic, I always thought that is done very directly: that people like each other so much that they feel safe enough to tell each other things like ‘you know, X really annoy me. Can you help me and do such and such things to them please?’ Only while working in Home Group and observing how that person interacted with tenants to get them to make up false accusations against those she didn’t like, I noticed that isn’t done like that at all! The bully comes up with a made up problem, or an exaggerated one and presents this problem to the person he/she wants to perform the desired action, and the action is a solution to the problem. Moreover, the bully usually say not to do anything but due to how real the problem feels, the person who is meant to perform the action feels obliged to do so even if they are being discouraged.
Still, even with that understanding, I was unable to come up with a scenario that would explain why tenants are laughing at me.
A few days ago I read about a disorder called rejection sensitive dysphoria, which is ‘an intense emotional response caused by the perception that you have disappointed others in your life and that, because of that disappointment, they have withdrawn their love, approval, or respect.’ https://www.additudemag.com/rejection-sensitive-dysphoria-adhd-symptom-test/
It is apparently very common in people with ADHD. I think my brother may have it. I imagine it must be very difficult to live with it, but I really don’t think it is my issue at all. Quite frankly, if there is a disorder that is an opposite to it, it will be what I have, and that is why I managed in Home Group for such a long time, but also why my social skills are fairly good – basically, when I see that a certain behaviour doesn’t work with people, and I recognise it by seeing signs of rejection, I don’t despair and just try something else.
A few days later I went for some shopping to ALDI, which is not where I normally shop. As I was waiting in the queue to the checkout, a female cashier working on the checkout next to mine looked at me and briefly laughed. It really looked like if she laughed because she saw me and I immediately thought that she recognised me and laughed because she remembered something from my blog. Which is obviously nonsense as I’m not well known at all but it shows you my lack of theory of mind on the instinctive level.
I wouldn’t normally be bothered by that behaviour at all but, as it reminded me my experience from working for Home Group, I started wondering again what story was used on tenants to get them to laugh at me. And then, I had it! They could have been told that I probably have rejection sensitive dysphoria and that it would be good to know that so that management could support me better. So the tenants could offer to help my coworkers check that by laughing at me in totally random manner.
Those things really need to be discussed more as, by keeping quiet, we allow bullies to flourish. I don’t suppose Mr Henderson, CEO of Home Group, fully understands the importance of that.