How to Deal with a Bully at Work

Workplace bullying

Just because middle school is over doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a bully now and then. But, what if you have a bully at work? Workplace bullies are common; in fact, a 2018 poll found 60 million Americans reported being affected by a bully at work. If you feel intimidated by an individual or even dread having to work around them, you may be a victim of a workplace bully. Instead of continuing to be unhappy or leaving your job, here are three ways to deal with a workplace bully.

Define What You Will Tolerate

There is a difference between teasing and full-fledged bullying; you’ll need to define what you will tolerate. Start by describing the behavior that is negatively affecting you. Avoid generalizing or editorializing; you’re going to need to be more specific than “I don’t like when you yell at me.” Instead, tell the bully, “When you yell at me, I have a hard time focusing on what you’re asking from me.”

You will also want to make sure the bully knows you will no longer tolerate the behavior. If you do not, the bully will continue with their behavior, and the problem will only worsen. It may even escalate to involving your HR department.

Document the Actions of Behaviors

Whenever you’re feeling bullied, write down the behaviors or actions you’re being subjected to. Be sure to document the date and time of the incident, as well as making your notes as detailed as possible so you can accurately relay it later. If the bullying is occurring over emails or text messages, make sure you save those as well.

If you’re comfortable, you can bring these issues to the attention of the bully and first try to resolve the conflict between the two of you. Sometimes, a bully may not even be aware their behavior is affecting your negatively. If you’re not comfortable with this, or it’s not an option due to the level of the bullying, you’ll want to go straight to HR with your documents.

Speak to Human Resources

When you’ve told the workplace bully what you will or will no longer tolerate, spoken to them about their behavior, and documented their action, and you’re still having issues, it is time to bring the situation to Human Resources. Having those detailed – and accurate – notes you’ve taken will help HR access the situation and create the best path forward for both you and the bully.

No one likes a bully, especially in the workplace. If you’re experiencing a bully at work, let them know how their actions or behavior is negatively affecting you, define what you will or will not tolerate from them, document the situation(s), and go to HR if you’re not able to resolve the conflict together or if the bullying is extreme. Bullies are dangerous to company culture and employee engagement, so it is in everyone’s best interest to create a bully-free workplace.

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