This is the first profile installment of a seven-part series. The subsequent pieces will introduce the profile of a workplace bully, the tactics they employ and your superpower to help overcome workplace conflict. These profiles are inspired by Meredith Fuller's "Working with Bitches."
The superhero motif is used in the series because workers can serve as the heroes of their own stories. A good building block to create workplace dignity is to first develop your own powers for defense, advocacy and empowerment. As employees and activists, tapping into unique power and taking on an alter ego when necessary can help you advocate, build power and fight the forces of evil encountered in the workplace.
Behavior: The Ignorer is infamous for using body language, side comments and social interaction to overpower their coworkers. They will keep coworkers at bay, coming off cold or indifferent. Working with them is a challenge because good work often thrives off of teamwork and clear communication. Workers seek to create a rapport with their coworkers and the success of the business often depends upon sharing knowledge. The Ignorer can definitely have their favorites and that can create a rift in the unity of the team.
Superpower: Creating Distance. The Ignorer’s Superpower is using the basic human need of belonging to ostracize their opponent. They get pleasure from leaving coworkers out of the loop and creating discord between the “knows” and the “know-nots.”
Your Super Superpower: The Power of Belonging! According to David Defoe, attorney and author of “Ostracism Hurts: The Psychological Costs of Ignoring or Excluding Others,” exclusion threatens our “hard-wiring” because we generally care about avoiding harm to others. Coworkers are naturally predisposed to want the team to succeed, so as a worker you can tap into that. If you need vital information from the Ignorer, try to find it in other ways. Perhaps try discussing the situation to a neutral third party and remind coworkers you want to put the success of the team first. In some cases, flying under the radar and being ignored can be advantageous—if it is, keep your head down and focus on your work. Don’t try hard to appease them or be overly welcoming; it will likely be brushed off. Build power and positive relationships beyond the Ignorer. The more positive relationships you have in the workplace, the more successful you can be.