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Dealing with Bullying at Work

written by: Eduard Ezeanu•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 10/6/2010

Often, workplace problems will show themselves in the form of a workplace bully. If you want to enjoy your work and perform well, you need to deal effectively with bullying at work when it happens.

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    Dealing With a Bully

    Bullying at work Bullying at work is a phenomenon we all wish didn’t exist but unfortunately, it is a very real thing. Dealing with it effectively on the other hand, is often hard. Workplace bullies thrive because people tolerate them and don’t know how to handle them.

    The first important step is understanding the profile of a workplace bully so you can recognize them easily. Only once you identify workplace bullies, can you better apply the following advice in dealing with them:

    1. Ignore them. Bullying behavior gets perpetuated mostly because it works. A workplace bully usually wants you to become defensive or feel helpless as a reaction to their behavior. This is exactly why you want to avoid and ignore them.

    Don't fight fire with fire by becoming aggressive or hostile yourself; do not start explaining yourself when a bully makes fun of you. Instead, act as if they didn’t exist or they’re not important. Often, this will make a bully move on to bullying someone else, since you’re not offering the desired reaction.

    2. Say what is bothering you. Sometimes, a bully’s behavior is just too obnoxious and ignoring it is not a good option. In this case, the first good thing you can do is clearly tell the bully their behavior is bothering you.

    Even if the bully often wants to bother you, the fact you’re facing them head on instead of just standing there and taking it, reflects that you have confidence and that you intend to stand up for your rights. Many bullies tend to back down when a person tells them to their face that they have a problem with their behavior.

    3. Set firm boundaries. No person can get you to do something without your implicit or explicit consent. Setting boundaries means deciding things you are not willing to do, no matter what pressure someone places on you.

    For example, a bully may try to intimidate you into staying late at work to help them with a project, but if you don’t really want to, you always have the option not to help them and go home after work instead. Setting firm boundaries lets a bully know they cannot use you and often makes them to back down.

    4. Create alliances. A workplace bully usually does not hurt only one person. They are mean and hostile to many people and they create for themselves many enemies in the workplace. Those enemies are your friends.

    Talk to other colleagues and tell them you have problems with the behavior of a bully and discover who else is on the same page. Once you discover people who are also bothered by the bully, build alliances with them and stand up together against bullying behavior. Dealing with bullying at work in this way produces better results.

    5. Go to the person in authority. If all else fails, keep in mind that an organization that doesn’t want to lose valuable employees is interested in dealing with bullying at work as well. Speak up and talk to your manager or supervisor about the bully and present the facts. Also, talk to the bully’s manager if they’re not the same as your manager.

    Every person deserves a positive work environment and correct treatment in the workplace. The most important lesson here is to not tolerate bullying at work and to do something about toxic people. Even if you can't determine the correct actions at first, you will get better and learn how to deal with workplace bullying in the best way; especially if you follow this tips.

    Image courtesy of Eole / Flickr