How to deal with bullying in the workplace

How to deal with bullying in the workplace

We’ve all dealt with the office jerk. Sometimes when you first start a job you can pinpoint who it is immediately, other times it can take a few weeks until you realize that someone is simply out to make your life a living hell. When you get into that situation, what do you do? You can’t simply meet them “after work” and duke it out like a bunch of middle schoolers, but there are ways to end the bullying and bring peace to your 9-5.

  1. Document everything

    You’ll need proof against your bully in order to file a complaint against him. Does he send inappropriate or offensive emails? Keep them. I was once called a “rat” in a company wide email because a couple of my managers got caught stealing money and I didn’t want that blemish to follow me around my entire hotel career. I saved every email from that moment on just to be on the safe side. Have there been verbal altercations in the presence of others? Ask another coworker to write a statement on your behalf. If you don’t have any hard evidence it will turn into a battle of accusations, and with no proof the bully, may just get a verbal warning (if that).

  2. Speak to your superiors

    Whether it’s your direct supervisor, or someone in HR, going to someone with more authority is important because they will document everything you tell them about the bullying. Once they have your statement, they will either speak to the individual privately, or have the two of you sit down and try to work things out. I felt having my employees sit down in a neutral setting to talk things out was always the best and 9 times out of 10 the issues came to a grinding halt.

  3. Don’t let them see you sweat

    A bully is like a shark in the water, once they smell blood they will continue to go after you. Can step 2 lead to more blood in the water? Possibly, but you have taken the proper steps at this point and now the bully is going to try to get under your skin even more. The best way to show them they won’t win? Work even harder than you were before. As your efficiency and quality of work increases, your managers will realize how important you are to the team and may give the bully the reality check they need to make sure your work day goes smoothly (the more time you have to perform great work means the less time they have to worry about fixing your mistakes due to the distractions from the bully).

  4. Speak to the bully privately

    If the first 3 steps have not slowed down the bully from making your life miserable, approach them head on. I am not one for confrontation, but at this point you need to ask yourself if the next x amount of years in this office will be worth the daily headaches. Speak to them at the watercooler, or in the employee lunchroom and tell them sternly that their actions towards you are uncalled for, and if you need to bring up a personal analogy to get them to see how poor their actions have been, then do it.

  5. Is the bully your boss? Repeat steps 1-4

    This can be a very tricky situation. I have had 3 occasions where my boss bullied me, and 2 resulted in me eventually losing my job! It was tough going to the higher managers because they viewed my bosses as key pieces in the machine, and as assistant manager I was the lowest rung on the totem pole in their eyes. Does that mean you have to take the abuse for the sake of your job? Of course not! If you have gone to HR or a regional manager and nothing has been done, all is not lost. Speak to them privately (if possible), and explain how their bullying affects your quality of work, which in turn makes them look bad. Getting into a shouting match is never the best option (especially in front of paying customers if you work in a retail setting). If you have tried all avenues and it does not seem like things will change anytime soon, it may be in your best interest to start looking for greener pastures. I personally will make sacrifices to get out of a soul crushing job if it means building my happiness back up.

These five tips can be used in any type of office setting. Whether you work in sales, marketing, a hotel, or retail, you can go through the proper channels and end the bullying from a coworker or superior once and for all.


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