1. Blog
  2. Career
  3. How To Deal With An Office Bully
Written by Rolf BaxRolf Bax

How To Deal With An Office Bully

8 min read
How To Deal With An Office Bully
In this guide we'll show you how to handle a bully in the office, according to science and advice from industry experts.

It's a real shame when a perfectly good job is made intolerable by a workplace bully. You don't even have to be the bully's intended victim to suffer the negative impact of toxic behaviour. When one person sets out to ruin another's day, the whole team loses, and unfortunately, bullying is more common than you might think. Every year, people find themselves victim to bullying or intimidation. While some people may find solutions to this problem, many people never speak up and continue to suffer, and some people even end up losing their job to try and escape workplace bullying. Don’t let this be you! 

If you're a victim of bullying, there's evidence that you can be harmed not just mentally and emotionally by these experiences, but physically, too. Victims suffering from bullying can suffer from depression, anxiety and insomnia, as well as lesser known physical symptoms such as fibromyalgia and cardiovascular issues. This isn’t good news!

Fortunately, there is hope. Researchers have discovered effective ways of dealing with bullying and how to find relief. The first and most important step is to talk. Acknowledging the problem to somebody else, such as a co-worker or friend, can be a huge pressure release. It can also help you shift the sense of shame that can come with being bullied. 

Alternatively, you can also consider talking openly about it at work. Naming the bully or drawing attention to his behaviour can tilt the balance of power and puncture the bully’s ability to dominate or intimidate you. When others are aware of their behaviour, it can make it less likely for the bullying to continue. However, for more serious instances of building, it may be best to discuss these issues with senior management or HR. Always know that you have a professional right to disclose these details with a professional from a relevant department. 

On a more technical level, it is essential to start documenting the bully's behaviour as soon as possible. If you have examples of texts, messages or written confrontation, be sure to keep a record of these interactions. Additionally, if you have witnesses that have witnessed you being bullied or abused, it can be a good idea to ask these witnesses if they would be willing to come forward and share what they’ve seen with you. Essentially, you are building a case against the bully, and since bullies can be very manipulative, it can help to have a record of their abuse, including anything they've written to you and the times, dates, and witnesses of verbal or physical encounters.

Remember: if you are the witness to somebody else being bullied, there are different techniques you can use to help the victim, depending on how confident you feel and how safe you feel the situation is. The simplest way to help the victim is to label the bullying in the moment. Calling out a bully can draw attention to their actions and escalate it to the relevant authorities. 

Whether you're the victim, witness, or office manager, or even if you're concerned that you might be a workplace bully yourself: check out our new infographic to stay informed and prepared. 

How to deal with a bully in the office

Don't let an office bully destroy your health, happiness, and career. The power to neutralise your bully begins with you, and it all starts with a conversation. Don’t be afraid to talk. You’ve got this. 

How To Deal With An Office Bully
How To Deal With An Office Bully

Sources

1. Workplace Bullying Institute. (2017). 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey. workplacebullying.org

2. Raypole, C. (2019). How to Identify and Manage Workplace Bullying. healthline.com

3. Scott, J. (2018). Should You Name Your Abuser?. greatist.com  

4. Rodríguez-Muñoz, A., Moreno-Jiménez, B., & Sanz-Vergel, A. I. (2015). Reciprocal relations between workplace bullying, anxiety and vigor: a two-wave longitudinal study. Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal. 1 (31).

5. Ziv, S. (2019). Don’t Let Workplace Bullies Win—Here’s How to Spot Them and Stop Them. themuse.com

6. Sansone, R. and Sansone, L. (2015). Workplace Bullying: A Tale of Adverse Consequences. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 12 (1-2). 

7. Zawadzki, M, Smyth, J, and Costigan, H. (2015). Real-Time Associations Between Engaging in Leisure and Daily Health and Well-Being. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 49 (4).

8. Gavrilets, S. (2012). On the evolutionary origins of the egalitarian syndrome. PNAS. 109 (35).  

9. Athalye, V, Santos, F, Carmena, J, and Costa, R. (2018). Evidence for a neural law of effect. Science. 359 (6379).

10. Mishna, F, Khoury-Kassabri, M, Schwan, K, Wiener, J, Craig, W, Beran, T, Pepler, T, and Daciuk, J. (2016). The contribution of social support to children and adolescents' self-perception: The mediating role of bullying victimization. Children and Youth Services Review. 63.  

11.Littman, J and Hershon, M. (2009). I Hate People!: Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

12. Einarsen, S, Raknes, B, and Matthiesen, S. (1994). Bullying and harassment at work and their relationships to work environment quality: An exploratory study. European Work and Organizational Psychology. 4 (4).

13. Hoel, H, and Cooper, C L. (2000). Destructive Conflict and Bullying at Work. Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. 

14. Cherry, K. (2019). The Law of Effect in Psychology. verywellmind.com

15. Ni, P. (2017). 5 Ways That Adults Bully Each Other. psychologytoday.com

16. Cocchimiglio, S. (2019). What is Verbal Bullying and How Does it Happen?. betterhelp.com

17. National Centre Against Bullying. Types of Bullying. ncab.org

Blumenthal, J, Smith, P, and Hoffman, B. (2012). Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression? ACSMs Health Fit J. 16 (4).

Einarsen, S and Skogstad, A. (1996). Bullying at work: Epidemiological findings in public and private organizations. European Work and Organizational Psychology. 5 (2).  

Salin, D. (2008). The prevention of workplace bullying as a question of human resource management: measures adopted and underlying organizational factors. Scandinavian Journal of Management.

Shiroma, E and Lee, I. (2010). Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation. 122 (7).

Slepian, M, Halevy, N, and Galinsky, A. (2018). The Solitude of Secrecy: Thinking About Secrets Evokes Goal Conflict and Feelings of Fatigue, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 00(0). 

Gordon, S. (2019). 10 Types of Kids Most Likely to Be Bullied. verywellfamily.com

Dimitrov, S, Hulteng, E, and Hong, S. (2017). Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 61.

Craft a compelling CV in minutes
Craft a compelling CV in minutes
Use expert-approved, professional CV templates built to engage your prospective employers
Create My CV
Craft a compelling CV in minutes
Craft a compelling CV in minutes
Use expert-approved, professional CV templates built to engage your prospective employers
Create My CV
Share this article
Keep reading
CV Help7 min read
How to list hard skills on your CV
How to list hard skills on your CV
CV Help17 min read
How to List Special Skills on Your CV
How to List Special Skills on Your CV on Your CV
Cover Letter10 min read
Email cover letter
Email cover letter
CV Help8 min read
How To Write Accomplishments For Your CV
How To Write Accomplishments For Your CV
Browse All
We use cookies to enhance user experience, analyse our website performance, and work on marketing initiatives. By continuing to use our website you agree to our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy. Thank you for your understanding.
Accept Cookies