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Jun 6

Bullying at Work by: Ronda Suder


Don’t let your workplace bully win; here’s how to handle bullying at work.

Whether you’re aware or not, bullying is a common occurrence in the work arena. To explore and dig deeper into this topic, TopResume recently surveyed more than 1,000 working professionals. The results were very telling.

Of the 1,229 respondents, only four percent said they have never felt bullied in the workplace; that means a whopping 96 percent of respondents have felt bullied at work. And, if you think bullying only comes from those in a position of power, like a manager or a boss, think again. In that same survey, 25 percent of respondents said they have felt bullied by a peer or co-worker.

Bullying can lead to health concerns, undue stress, and low productivity at work — and that's just the tip of the iceberg. With that said, it's important to take appropriate steps to handle bullying at work to support your well-being. Below are some suggestions to consider if you find yourself at the mercy of workplace bullying.  

How to handle bullying at work

1. Check yourself

If you feel you are being bullied at work, the first thing to do is to take inventory of any ways you might be contributing to the challenging situation. It could be that you are doing nothing to provoke the bullying (which is often the case), but the point here is to truly size up the situation and take responsibility if you might be invoking the behavior in any way. From that perspective, you can determine the best way to deal with the situation.

Tip: Keep in mind that people make mistakes. Take a moment to size up the situation and determine if the "bullying" was simply a one-time incident due to someone having a bad day. If yes, then consider letting it go and moving on.

2. Take action before it has a negative impact on you

Understandably, many individuals are afraid to speak up when they are being bullied. They might be concerned about what others will think. And, if the bully is their boss or someone in a position of power, then one's livelihood could be at stake. With that said, ongoing, long-term bullying can have a negative impact on your overall well-being, which in turn can have a negative impact on your performance and ability to do your work. Take care of yourself and develop an action plan to address the concern.

Related: Workplace Wellness: 5 Ways to Mind Mental Health at Work

3. Tell your higher-ups or HR

If you are not comfortable speaking to the individual who is bullying you directly, then you might need to discuss it with your manager or human resources. Choose the course of action that feels best for you for your situation.

Tip: When addressing your concern with others, don't play the blame game. Come up with a plan of how you are going to address the bullying concern and be sure to include its impact on productivity, well-being, and morale coupled with some possible solutions.

4. Don't take it personally

This can be difficult for many, but it's important that you don't take bullying personally. Remember, when someone is bullying you, it's more about them than it is about you. Often, a bully is acting from a place of insecurity and/or from a need to control. Practice having healthy emotional boundaries that keep you from reacting or feeling bad about yourself when workplace bullying occurs.

5. Address the issue head on

This won't always be possible or comfortable, but if it is, speak up and stand your ground when communicating with a bully. In a recent Time article, Fran Hauser, author of "The Myth of the Nice Girl," suggests using the following phrases when dealing with a work bully or someone who is not treating you appropriately:

"Please don't talk to me that way."

"Let's try to get this conversation to a place where it can be productive."

"Let's take a break and come back to this later."

6. Leave if it's not worth it

Your well-being is most important, and without it, you're no good to anyone. If you have done all you can to eliminate the bullying but it's still occurring, then it might be time to explore other options. Consider opportunities in other departments or with a new company altogether.

7. Document all of it

This last bit of advice on how to handle bullying in the workplace is extremely important to remember: Always document everything as it relates to your interactions with the bully. This not only provides a timeline of events, but it also helps you recall information more easily when needed.

Tip: If a bully is attempting to make you look bad or imply you're not doing your job, you can ask for written confirmation and details that he or she will have to own up to when questioned. In other words, attempt to communicate via email when dealing with a bully so you have a written record of the communication.

The TopResume survey results show that there is a resounding need to deal with workplace bullying. Take action to support yourself if you find yourself being impacted by a workplace bully. Also, when you speak up and take a stand for yourself, it empowers others to do the same.


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