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What Is the Best Way to Deal With a Bully At Work?

If left unchecked, aggressive bullies are likely to progress from verbal abuse to physical types of workplace violence.
A workplace bully may communicate with words that are designed to cause fear and anxiety in others.
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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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A workplace bully is an employee or supervisor who uses aggressive or manipulative behavior to intimidate others in a working environment. If not dealt with, a bully can pose a risk to the mental health and physical safety of fellow workers and affect productivity. The best way to deal with a bully at work is to keep the entire process strictly professional.

Aggressive work bullies tend to use degradation tactics, such as yelling or name calling, to instill fear in other employees and feel dominant. This type of bully at work usually wants some type of reaction that shows that you fear him or her, so avoid defending yourself or displaying responses of emotion. Ignore the bully’s attention-seeking behavior and only interact with him or her on professional issues only. An aggressive bully will typically give up if he or she isn’t getting the desired reactions.

Manipulative work bullies use more subtle ways of intimidating others. They may take credit for your ideas or attempt to force you to do their work. A manipulative bully at work tends to be drawn to timid people who may have a hard time sticking up for themselves. Be assertive, yet still professional when dealing with him or her. Politely tell him or her if a job task isn’t your responsibility and don’t offer any excuses. A manipulative bully tends to rely on sneaky tactics but will stop the tactics if the victim isn’t going along with them.

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Begin documenting the inappropriate behavior if you cannot deal with a bully at work on a personal basis. Write down every incident in as much detail as possible with dates, times, and exact quotes. Once you have enough documentation to show a distinct bullying pattern, meet with someone in your company’s human resources department and show him or her your documentation. To make your argument most effective, explain the situation from a productivity viewpoint. For example, state that bully’s behavior creates a stressful work environment that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe and unable to perform your job.

If your company’s human resources department does not implement any action to deal with the bully, continue to stay focused on your work and act as professionally as possible; however, you may want to look for a new job as a last resort. Even though the bullying is not your fault, working in a hostile environment may cause you additional stress and lead to mental and physical problems. If you end up experiencing discriminatory behavior for reporting the bully, you can consider filing legal action.

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Discuss this Article

anon951545
Post 4

I am currently in a job where my manager does things to constantly make me uneasy. It's one year and a half I have not spoken to her besides the typical "Good morning" or "have a good day." She sabotaged my review for a raise over a year ago, and has also lessened my workload significantly to where there are times I go hours without having anything to do. I refuse to be intimidated into quitting my job and this frustrates her.

GreenWeaver
Post 3

Latte31- Many companies have sexual harassment seminars in order to minimize the incidents of bullying and harassment at work.

Companies are often sued for these negligent actions of these employees. The CEO of company that my husband used to work for was fired for issues pertaining to sexual harassment.

This company settled with the victims, but being bully free at work is a goal that all companies seek for these reasons. Bullys at work cost a company a lot of money even if they are fired from their position.

latte31
Post 2

BrickBack-I had a friend that had a male supervisor that made her work life impossible because she refused his sexual advances.

She stopped this bullying and harassment at work, by ignoring him and seeking a transfer that was granted by her boss’ supervisor.

This was the only way she was going to have peace at work. She also kept a journal of all of the incidents, but having a bully at work is very difficult to deal with. The stress makes it hard to focus on your job sometimes.

BrickBack
Post 1

Bullying in the workplace is a growing trend. People are becoming more aggressive as incidents of workplace violence are increasing.

When dealing with harassment at work understand that these types of people usually choose victims that they feel are substantially weaker than they are.

They would never harass a stronger person because that person will never give in to them. Many times these work harassment situations involve a supervisor with a subordinate.

Again the subordinate is weaker because the subordinate needs the job to pay his or her bills, while the supervisor has the power over the employee.

In this situation, it is best to document the actions of the supervisor, and if the harassment at work continues it is best to seek help from your human resources department. Perhaps you can even transfer to another location if possible.

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