How to Handle Bullies at Work

Reviewed Jan 30, 2017

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Summary

  • Avoid nasty confrontations. Walk away.
  • Enlist the support of trusted co-workers.

Just as road rage afflicts our nation’s highways, rudeness and bullying are taking their toll on the workplace.

Bullying doesn’t just affect those involved directly. It can also undermine an organization’s effectiveness, damaging productivity.

According to Christine Pearson, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, “There’s a bottom-line cost to all this. It goes beyond potential hurt feelings. We’ve got data that show people cut back and reduce commitment to their work. While subtle compared to other forms of abuse, the effects of workplace bullying are pervasive, costly, and potentially long-lasting for both the individuals and the organization.”

Identifying a bully

We’ve all been ignored or snapped at by a co-worker or manager who’s under pressure or in a bad mood. But bullying cuts deeper. It involves persistent, abusive, and intimidating behavior designed to make the recipient feel upset, humiliated, and threatened.

The key to spotting bullies is to observe their pattern of behavior. Do you work with someone who blames others, makes unreasonable demands, criticizes the work ability of others, takes credit for someone else’s work, threatens, insults, yells, and screams? Then you work with a bully.

Bullies often travel in packs. They enjoy partnering with other mean-spirited people, creating an atmosphere of intimidation or exclusion for a targeted individual. The goal is to coerce, control, or punish another person. This type of abuse often takes the form of innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting.

What you can do

Experts advise to keep calm. Don’t overreact or rise to the bully’s bait. Bullies are hoping for a nasty confrontation, so walk away.

If the situation becomes unbearable, approach your manager to request an intervention. Those who endure such mistreatment should begin documenting the incidents, including specific dates, times, and locations, so a detailed record can be presented to managers.

Enlist the help of trusted co-workers. Take the time to find out if others have experienced the same treatment by the bully. Ask if they’re willing to brainstorm with you on ways to improve the situation. See if they would be willing to back you up in a meeting to address the situation with the bully, or to provide a united front when discussing the problem with your manager.

Resources

The No A$$hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton. Business Plus, 2010.

Toxic Workplace! Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power by Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway. Jossey-Bass, 2009.

By Rosalyn Kulick

Summary

  • Avoid nasty confrontations. Walk away.
  • Enlist the support of trusted co-workers.

Just as road rage afflicts our nation’s highways, rudeness and bullying are taking their toll on the workplace.

Bullying doesn’t just affect those involved directly. It can also undermine an organization’s effectiveness, damaging productivity.

According to Christine Pearson, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, “There’s a bottom-line cost to all this. It goes beyond potential hurt feelings. We’ve got data that show people cut back and reduce commitment to their work. While subtle compared to other forms of abuse, the effects of workplace bullying are pervasive, costly, and potentially long-lasting for both the individuals and the organization.”

Identifying a bully

We’ve all been ignored or snapped at by a co-worker or manager who’s under pressure or in a bad mood. But bullying cuts deeper. It involves persistent, abusive, and intimidating behavior designed to make the recipient feel upset, humiliated, and threatened.

The key to spotting bullies is to observe their pattern of behavior. Do you work with someone who blames others, makes unreasonable demands, criticizes the work ability of others, takes credit for someone else’s work, threatens, insults, yells, and screams? Then you work with a bully.

Bullies often travel in packs. They enjoy partnering with other mean-spirited people, creating an atmosphere of intimidation or exclusion for a targeted individual. The goal is to coerce, control, or punish another person. This type of abuse often takes the form of innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting.

What you can do

Experts advise to keep calm. Don’t overreact or rise to the bully’s bait. Bullies are hoping for a nasty confrontation, so walk away.

If the situation becomes unbearable, approach your manager to request an intervention. Those who endure such mistreatment should begin documenting the incidents, including specific dates, times, and locations, so a detailed record can be presented to managers.

Enlist the help of trusted co-workers. Take the time to find out if others have experienced the same treatment by the bully. Ask if they’re willing to brainstorm with you on ways to improve the situation. See if they would be willing to back you up in a meeting to address the situation with the bully, or to provide a united front when discussing the problem with your manager.

Resources

The No A$$hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton. Business Plus, 2010.

Toxic Workplace! Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power by Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway. Jossey-Bass, 2009.

By Rosalyn Kulick

Summary

  • Avoid nasty confrontations. Walk away.
  • Enlist the support of trusted co-workers.

Just as road rage afflicts our nation’s highways, rudeness and bullying are taking their toll on the workplace.

Bullying doesn’t just affect those involved directly. It can also undermine an organization’s effectiveness, damaging productivity.

According to Christine Pearson, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, “There’s a bottom-line cost to all this. It goes beyond potential hurt feelings. We’ve got data that show people cut back and reduce commitment to their work. While subtle compared to other forms of abuse, the effects of workplace bullying are pervasive, costly, and potentially long-lasting for both the individuals and the organization.”

Identifying a bully

We’ve all been ignored or snapped at by a co-worker or manager who’s under pressure or in a bad mood. But bullying cuts deeper. It involves persistent, abusive, and intimidating behavior designed to make the recipient feel upset, humiliated, and threatened.

The key to spotting bullies is to observe their pattern of behavior. Do you work with someone who blames others, makes unreasonable demands, criticizes the work ability of others, takes credit for someone else’s work, threatens, insults, yells, and screams? Then you work with a bully.

Bullies often travel in packs. They enjoy partnering with other mean-spirited people, creating an atmosphere of intimidation or exclusion for a targeted individual. The goal is to coerce, control, or punish another person. This type of abuse often takes the form of innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting.

What you can do

Experts advise to keep calm. Don’t overreact or rise to the bully’s bait. Bullies are hoping for a nasty confrontation, so walk away.

If the situation becomes unbearable, approach your manager to request an intervention. Those who endure such mistreatment should begin documenting the incidents, including specific dates, times, and locations, so a detailed record can be presented to managers.

Enlist the help of trusted co-workers. Take the time to find out if others have experienced the same treatment by the bully. Ask if they’re willing to brainstorm with you on ways to improve the situation. See if they would be willing to back you up in a meeting to address the situation with the bully, or to provide a united front when discussing the problem with your manager.

Resources

The No A$$hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton. Business Plus, 2010.

Toxic Workplace! Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power by Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway. Jossey-Bass, 2009.

By Rosalyn Kulick

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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