June 4, 2020
Company Culture 03 December 2016
5 Ways to Deal with Office Bullying
Gisel Malek
office bullying

By: Anna Martirosyan and Randy Han

Regardless of what type it may be, bullying is still bullying. Regardless of where or when it happens, bullying is still bullying. Though many of us think and hope that bullying disappears as we grow older, workplace bullying is actually fairly common. The consequences of bullying are undeniable; health issues, depression, stress are all prevalent in victims of bullying, prompting the need to prevent it.

In order to reduce bullying in the workplace, it’s important to understand what bullying is and what options one has when facing bullying. Here are 5 important steps to prevent bullying whether you’re an employee, a co-worker, or a supervisor. 

Know What Bullying Is

As important as it is to quickly stop bullying, the first thing is being able to recognize it. While there's a multitude of signs of bullying, it’s still important to know what they are as soon as possible. 

One of the most obvious signs of bullying is physical harassment and actions of abuse. Often times, these actions begin as lighthearted jokes. Though it’s easy to get lost in the humor of bullying when it might be so prevalent in media, in reality, just a few simple pranks can lead to a chain of negative consequences. 

If you notice something, do something. It’s important that we realize bullying on any level isn’t something to take lightly because there’s always the chance for it to get worse. As an employer, be aware that bullying does not stop at the playground. It is possible it will occur in your workplace, so it’s important to cultivate a mindset amongst your employees about how to respect one another, notice the signs of bullying if it occurs, and take action. As an employee, be mindful of the possibility of bullying and do not take it lightly if you notice it. Once you know what bullying looks like, changing it is much easier. 

Choose to make a change

Noticing bullying is only part of the battle. Next, there must be a decision to make a change.  

The most important tip to stand up to bullying is to stand up for what is right. While it may seem like a big cliche, the biggest fuel for bullies is the attention they receive. This ignites their confidence, especially when the victim cannot stand up for themselves. Bullies, after all, can only bully someone if they let themselves be bullied.

Even if you’re the victim of bullying, you have the power to limit its effect. If you choose to finally say “enough is enough”, then ending the bullying will be a lot easier than you may have originally thought. 

As an employer, keep in mind that noticing bullying is not enough. Stand up for your employees and create a zero-tolerance environment. Bullies will not want to continue bullying if they know it is wrong and if they feel that everyone around them is noticing their wrongdoing. Call it reverse psychology, but it works. 

Take action

It’s now time to take action. 

Bullying can ultimately be dealt with in a multitude of ways. Which option is chosen is ultimately dependent on the type of situation the victim is in. After all, not every case of bullying is exactly the same as the next and not every person deals with bullying the same way. Here are 4 options on how to take action against a bully! 

1. Talk it Out

Communication is a bedrock for conflict resolution. Telling the bully up front that you will not tolerate what they’ve been doing can open their eyes to reality. Bullies can’t know what they’re doing wrong if you don’t tell them what’s bothering you. This can go both ways as well. If you’re an employer who has witnessed bullying, address the bully firmly and explain why such actions are unacceptable. 

The importance of conversation stems far beyond just bullying incidences. If you know something is wrong or if you need help, especially in the workplace, don’t hesitate to ask. A lack of communication can lead to more serious consequences in the future. 

2. Go to your Seniors

Though it may seem frightening to come to your seniors with an issue like bullying, it’s likely that they will able to help. Remember that to stop the bully, you should be ready to confront them, but your seniors can be resources to help you do this and support you.

If your supervisor is also your bully’s supervisor, this can be very effective if the supervisor is unaware of his employee’s actions. Come with key stories or evidence prepared and explain the situation in a calm manner, stressing that you want action to occur to prevent the bully from further bullying you or someone you know. Finally, take some time to assess how stopping the bully might help the office as a whole and how it would actually benefit your supervisor to help you.

3. Go to Human Resources

If you feel that your superiors are out of reach, connect with human resources. After all, they’re meant to be a resource for the workers. Similar to going to your seniors, this can be very effective in stopping a bully. Do not hesitate to contact someone to help you if you cannot find the ways to help yourself. There’s no reason to suffer bullying longer than you have to. 

4. Bring in the Law

Though this may seem like a drastic step, some cases of workplace bullying might only be able to be resolved through the law. Learn your options, talk to human resources or an attorney, and research what would be best for you. Bullying is currently not illegal, but harassment is. Though a lawsuit may be more troublesome, it may help to know what you could do. Often times, bullying cases do not need the law to be settled, but it’s important to know that you have this option and you have the power. 

5. Take time for yourself

If you’ve ever faced a bully, you know how draining it can be. Don’t forget that your mental health is extremely important to your work and personal success. Try surrounding yourself with people who make you feel more productive and at peace. Take time off to reevaluate your priorities, perhaps looking at whether the work you’re in is right for you, and heal. It might even be beneficial to talk to someone about your experience and your feelings. A clearer head will help you tackle the bully more strategically and produce a more successful outcome. 

Changing something like bullying is definitely no easy task, but it’s necessary to not let an issue this severe turn into something worse. Just know that you have the power to create a healthier work environment by stopping a bully. If you’ve ever felt victim to a bullying, try these steps and see what they lead to. 

If you want to share your story with us or more tips on how to deal with office bullying from personal experience, leave a comment below!