Bullied At Work? Here’s How To Stop Workplace Bullying

Despite how far we’ve come, we still haven’t made a lot of progress on completely eradicating bullying. This is why every employee needs to be aware of how to stop workplace bullying.

Bullying lurks in the four corners of the office, causing damage to employee morale and productivity, and costing company owners thousands in take-home profits. It can happen to any person, even if he or she is already in a senior position, or a rank-and-file employee.

David Yamada, Suffolk University Law School professor and president of non-profit, the New Workplace Institute, points out that the behavior often goes unrecognized until “it’s too late.”

“They’re sinking into a really bad state emotionally, finding it harder to go to work and it might even affect their job performance,” he tells Forbes.

There are statistics to prove it. Data from The Workplace Bullying Institute’s survey in 2014 reveals that victims of bullying “leave their jobs at a shocking rate of 83 percent vs. 18 percent than those who target them.” 

Identifying workplace bullies

Remember the saying we hurt the ones we love? The same can be said of your bullies. 

Sometimes, those who tend to bully you are people who are next to on the corporate ladder or a teammate. Strange enough, the bully can also be in the person of a friend or loved one at work.

According to HR Morning, there are eight kinds of bullies that you can encounter at work.

You have most likely encountered a number of them; their most common denominator is their manipulative behavior, and love-hate treatment of you.

They could be nice to you one moment, or completely the opposite. They could be people who work well with you, only to undermine you or position in the end.

WBI data showed that men make up 69 percent of bullies. Women, on the other hand, are most likely to be the target of bullies, accounting for 60 percent of the incidences. 

Managing bullies

In its fact sheet, the Australian Human Rights Commission provides a number of actions that targets of bullying can do. They are summarized below:

  1. Document incidences of bullying as proof when you ultimately file a complaint.
  2. Getting help from support services within or outside the organization, such as the labor union that you belong to (if you belong to one in your country).
  3. Talking to the bully and letting them know that their actions are wrong and unwelcome.

These are the initial but effective steps that one can take to mitigate the situation. Often times, talking to a third-party, such as a work union, to mediate between the bully and you will help nip the problem in the bud.  

What if your boss is the bully

What happens if your bully is a superior?

Bully bosses are in abundance everywhere; yet even so, it’s difficult to spot one, as we are most likely to be tolerant of their behavior. After all, our bosses have authority over us. They tell us what to do, and when we mess things up, we expect some form of discipline from them.

At times, this discipline is unnecessary or bordering on abusive. We think it’s okay, because, well, bosses throw temper tantrums, too.

This lack of awareness about bullying from higher ups doesn’t only happen at the workplace, but at institutions that serve as watchdogs.

“I haven’t studied office bullying systematically,” Harry Levinson, Ph.D., head of the Levinson Institute in Waltham, Massachusetts, tells Psychology Today.

Psychology Today reported that no one, indeed, had the chance to study the subject. It observes, however, that while the issue is an ongoing challenge, workplaces today are learning to “weed out” the bullies before they reach the zenith of the organizations they work for.

Managing up

Our instinctive reaction to bullying is either to keep silent, or retaliate in probably the most hurtful way as possible. Then again, that’s only adding insult to injury. What if you couldn’t afford to leave your job?

Robert Mueller, author of Bullying Bosses: A Survivor’s Guide, says you don’t have to leave your job for self-preservation, in an interview with CIO.

Here are the things he would want you to do, in a nutshell:

  1. Make a record of the things your boss do to you to spite you, even the subtlest ones. “Teasing counts. Sarcasm counts. Ignoring you or criticizing you counts. A very public glare or silent treatment counts,” Mueller told CIO.
  1. Don’t give your bully fodder to use against you. Mueller advised readers to dress well and look composed. Keep your cool or excuse yourself when your boss is acting out. And when your boss is feeling friendly and chatty, don’t share with them any information about your personal life.

When all is said and done

Never forget to check your employee handbook or your local labor laws for additional information. You will find that your local employment laws are protective of your being and wellness at work, and honor your safety as their utmost priority.

In some countries, such as Canada and Australia, employees are automatically enrolled in unions that protects their rights as a worker. These unions are very responsive, and are quick to investigate any problem brought to their table.

If any meaningful dialogue isn’t reached, consider filing legal action. This is especially important if you feel that your safety is at risk.

Bullies exist, whether we like it or not. But they have to be put in their place in the right manner. Wouldn’t you agree?

Have you been a victim of workplace bullying? What did you do to end the situation?

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Sandy Miguel is an independent website publisher, journalist and photographer from the Philippines. She used to be the managing director of an advertising technology provider where she managed around 50 online contractors at one time. Sandy writes about managing work-related stress, exploring one's options outside the four corners of an office, and work-life balance for Get Over Your Job.

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