How to Deal with Bullies at Work

How to Deal with Bullies at Work

Do you want to know how to deal with bullies at work?

Bullies are everywhere, from the streets in your neighborhood to school, in your community, and even at work.

When people talk about bullying, it is often perceived as something that happens primarily at school while growing up.

However, surprising as it might seem, there are also bullies even in the place of work.

Sometimes, your bullies at work might be individuals that are in a higher position of authority over you in the workplace.

One or more of these might try to intimidate or coerce you into doing something, even the wrong things because they see you as weak or vulnerable.

Bullying can also come from colleagues who are even of the same level as you at work.

Some might feel that owing to certain advantages they have over you, such as size, education, or authority, they can bully you.

Bullies are not nice people to have around, whether they are at school or in the workplace.

They might be making you lose your efficiency at work, and even lose your joy because of their intimidation.

And if something is not done to properly deal with such bullies at work, it can eventually drive you away from your work.

However, you shouldn’t and wouldn’t want that to happen, and that is why you need to learn how to effectively deal with bullies at work.

If anything, such ones should be the ones to leave with their toxic attitude if they cannot change it or work on themselves.

While it might not be in your power to fire a bully, there are things you can do on your own to manage or change them if possible.

We will consider some of those practical steps in a moment.

How to Deal with Bullies at Work – Who is a Bully?

A bully is a person who constantly and habitually seeks to intimidate or abuse others, especially those they see as weaker or vulnerable.

Bullies use coercion or force to seel to dominate and control others.

This is not a one-off incident as that is not enough to categorize one as a bully, but they make this a habit and are very consistent with it.

Usually, the person who is the bully has or believes himself or herself to have more power than the person being bullied.

It might also be that the bully believes that his target or victim has less power or capability to defend himself/herself.

Hence, the bully picks on this one, and harass, intimidate, abuse, and even coerce him/her to suit his will.

Often, the bully aims to use direct force or some other form of intimidation to force the prey to do something he/she doesn’t want to do.

The art of bullying started right from our school days when the biggest boy/girl in class or the strongest coerce the weak ones to submission.

Those bullies end up doing things like taking the student’s lunch away, verbally abusing or ridiculing them, or even beating them up.

This same process of bullying is also applicable at work and you can readily find bullies there.

While these might not do petty things like taking away the lunch of co-workers, the principle behind bullying still applies.

Some persons at work might use force or coercion to have their way all the time and pick on those who appear weaker.

This weakness might either be in power or even knowledge and skills.

Those who make it a habit to do this are bullies at work.

Understanding Why You Might Be Bullied at Work 

Are you a victim of bullying at work? If yes, the first thing you might naturally ask yourself is: “Why Me?”.

It is often hard to understand why a bully has decided to make us his prey and who to pick on aggressively.

Well, while the temptation might be there to feel that the problem is with you, it is not.

Usually, when people become bullies, it is often a problem with them, most especially their self-esteem and insecurities.

To understand this well, just take a moment to remind yourself of some movies you’ve watched where students get bullied in school.

Which category of students is usually the victim of bullies?

Oftentimes, it is those who are intelligent students and doing well academically in their class that gets picked on.

And who are the bullies?

The “big” boys, who might not be that smart academically but have the size to intimidate and scare others.

Those bullies act out of their insecurities because they see something in their victims that scares them or they are envious of.

The said thing applies in the workplace.

Bullies at work that you need to deal with are dealing with their insecurities and see something about you that threatens them.

It might be that you are a very likable person, and they do not get such likes and attention and so resort to bullying you.

Other Reasons

Another reason might be your knowledge, skill, or experience which they lack, and they want to make up for that with bullying.

With such qualities or advantages you have over them, you already stand inches above them, and they don’t want that.

Therefore, they become bullies, using their power to try and pull you down, either with words or actions, and make you feel smaller than them.

Sometimes, your bullies might not be doing that for any of the above reasons, but just out of sheer dislike for you.

And some bullies at work that you need to deal with might just have made bullying a way of life.

How to Identify Bullies at Work 

From the definition of bullying used above, it might be easy to confuse bullying with criticism at work.

Does it mean that every time your superior or even colleague criticizes you, he/she is bullying you?

The answer is no.

Here are some acts that come off as bullying at work, and you need to watch out for to identify this negative trait:

  • Is there a coworker at work that constantly shouts at you even for flimsy reasons and you live in daily fear of that person or the thought of that? If yes, then it might be a sign of bullying.
  • A bully at work might also be someone who enjoys taking credit for the work you do, and receiving the attention and praise to himself/herself.
  • Another act that constitutes bullying at work is when a superior or a colleague never appreciates your input and always looks for ways to pull you down even when you do well.
  • Sometimes, bullies at work also function by using coercion to make you do something against the company’s rules, like falsification or other bad acts.
  • A bully in the workplace could also exhibit this negative trait by constantly putting you down in front of others or using harmful jokes and humor that are detrimental to your self-esteem.

Characteristics of Bullies at Work 

So that you do not confuse who a bully is at work with someone who is just looking out for you or being “funny”, take note of some recurring characteristics.

If you notice, there is an emphasis on the frequency of the bullying acts with the word “constantly”.

That means a bully doesn’t just do one or more of these things as a one-off event and rest, but they keep coming back.

Another trait of bullies at work that you should deal with is that they use force or coercion in the process and the aim is to harm or hurt you.

Bullies at work also target people who they perceive as powerless to react to whose power is not equal to theirs.

Hence, when you see all these characteristics play out in the process, you can easily tell that it is workplace bullying.

Negative Effects of Having Bullies at Work and Why It’s Important to Deal With Them

The presence of bullies at work is not something any manager or business owner should take lightly.

This is because it can have a big negative impact on the individuals who are being bullied and the organization as a whole.

Here are some of the negative effects of workplace bullying:

Bullying at Work Negatively Impacts Productivity 

This is one of the most common negative effects of having bullies at work.

The targets of bullies, i.e. those who are being bullied would have their level of productivity stunted by this act.

When one is a victim of bullying, it is hard to concentrate at work.

Furthermore, the period after an encounter with the bully is generally unproductive.

Because the bully does not have a good rapport with the target also, there is no collaboration on that side.

And that can lead to a decrease in productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

It is a Very Unpleasant Experience for the Victim

Nobody loves to be bullied.

Moreso, bullying is a very unpleasant experience for the victim.

And, if you are a victim of that consistently, you will agree that your self-esteem is affected.

Regardless of the skills, knowledge, abilities, and experiences you have, being bullied can blind you to all these.

If bullies are left unattended and you do not know how to deal with them properly, their ideas and opinions might get into your mind.

And before long, you might start to doubt your competence and value, and suffer low self-esteem.

Bullying Can Cause Confusion and Depression for Victims

If there is one thing that bullies do very well, it is to mess with the minds of their targets and drain them emotionally.

Being bullied at work can leave those who are victims filled with trauma and constantly ask themselves if they are the problem even though the victims are nit the problem

This can leave them confused and feeling helpless, and can even deteriorate into depression.

That is how serious workplace bullying is, and why you need to learn how to deal with it.

Lack of Job Satisfaction and Eventual Employee Turnover 

One of the main reasons why employees stay at their jobs is when they get happiness at work and have job satisfaction.

In other words, if you are not able to give your employees job satisfaction, you would have failed as an employer to hold them down.

Having bullies at work can only make those who are victims and even observers of the bullying dissatisfied with work.

And when there is no job satisfaction, the next thing is to start losing employees to voluntary termination of employment, or turnover.

That is a cause for headache and concern for a business owner or manager when there are bullies at work.

It Creates a Toxic Work Environment 

Still toeing the line of a lack of job satisfaction being a result of bullying at work, it also causes a toxic work environment.

As an employer, you want your workplace to be a haven of peace, tranquility, and joy.

However, having bullies in your ranks would only make your workplace the opposite.

Bullies at work make the environment toxic.

Sometimes people would either copy their bad behaviors.

That is how bad behaviors spread, jealousy and envy step in.

Hence, it is important to figure out how to deal with bullies at work.

It Gives the Company a Bad Image 

What happens when you start losing employees because there are bullies in the workplace?

Your guess is as good as ours; those who leave would spread the news about it to others who wish to hear.

What then happens is that you have news around the community about your organization, and not a good one.

This would paint your organization in a bad light and would scare the best talents away from working with you.

How to Deal with Bullies at Work – Practical Methods to Use

In this part focusing on how to deal with bullies at work, we would be covering:

-The actions of the employee being bullied

-What to do as an employer who notices bullying at work.

Sadly, many organizations today do not pay enough attention to this and often let it slide.

However, seeing just how negatively it can impact your workers and business should make you do otherwise.

Workplace bullying is a serious matter and one that must be treated as such.

With that in mind, here are some of the ideas that you can implement to help you deal with bullies at work:

Identify Who Your Bullies at Work Are 

You cannot fight that which you do not know, right?

Therefore, the first process in dealing with bullies at work is to first know who the bullies are.

To help you identify these, reference the definition of bullies given above and also how to identify bullies at work section.

This will help you to know who might be acting as a bully to you in your workplace and know where to “direct your blows”.

Remember too to apply the difference between constructive criticism and bullying, so you do not mix them up.

Once you’ve identified who your bullies are, then you can go on to the next steps.

Find Out Why Your Are Being Targetted by the Bully(s)

Do you remember some of the reasons we mentioned earlier that might make you a target for bullies?

Look at the ones who bully you at work and try to figure out why you are their target.

In most cases, the bullies have certain insecurities when it comes to you, and that is what is their motivating factor.

Knowing the reason why you are being bullied.

This will help you in deciding the approach to use in tackling the issue.

Be Confident in the Face of Bullies 

The main objective of bullies is to use doubts, harassment, and coercion to make you lose your self-esteem and confidence.

Bullies at work want you to believe that you are not what you say you are, and not good enough.

They want you to show a lack of confidence or insecurity.

Instead, the more they try to bring your down or discredit you, the more you should show confidence in yourself and what you do.

You need to take away all elements of doubt in yourself and believe that you are what you say you are and more.

When you do this, you are taking away some of the power that workplace bullies have and dealing with them accordingly.

Speak Up for Yourself 

There are many forms of verbal bullying or actions that bully going around at work.

Therefore, be quick in taking the action to speak up when you notice that bullies are getting into that habit.

Let them know you do not appreciate what is being done that comes off as bullying to you.

This you can do either in a private meeting with them or at the spot where constant bullying happens.

If the bullies are fond of discrediting your work, you can also ask them to let you know of better solutions or alternatives.

That way, you are deflecting the actions of the bullies and standing up for yourself, while still being professional.

Know About Your Company’s Policies on Acts of Bullying

As acts of bullying by those culpable gets too frequent and serious, you should take immediate actions to nip it in the bud.

Hence, either you are an employee experiencing bullying or you are an employer who notices bullying at work, you need to spring into action.

Research your company’s policies especially on bullying and what is applicable.

This will arm you with enough information and knowledge you need to take decisive action as a means of dealing with such bullies at work.

Document Incidents of Bullying 

A time will come when you will have no option but to escalate cases of bullying to your management.

When that time comes, you need to prepare to make your case.

That is why it is important that you document all the incidents of bullying and also have eye-witnesses.

Ensure you make your reports or documentation as detailed as possible.

Escalate to Your Superiors/Management 

When you’ve walked through the steps above, and there isn’t any glaring improvement on the part of the bully, the next step is to escalate.

You might make this the first step in cases whereby the bullying is a serious one and involves harassment.

When presenting your case, be sure to mention how the actions of the bully have impacted you as an individual, your work efficiency, and productivity.

Also, ensure you link this with the effects it has had on the company as a whole.

This would make your point objective and improve your chances of getting a favorable hearing.

Don’t Fight the Bullies

Look at your bullies at work, are the people you stand a chance beating if it comes down to a physical fight?

Maybe yes, or no.

If you have a physical reaction to bullying, then you are letting the bully win, as that is what they want from you.

When experiencing acts of bullying and you can no longer keep your cool, it is best to walk away, 

Don’t Hesitate to Leave If It Persists 

Of course, this is always going to come as a last resort.

Once you’ve applied all the ideas and suggestions given so far, you should start seeing changes.

However, if there are none or the bully at work is the employer himself, then you might need to walk away.

This would be after you must have discussed it and let them know how their actions make you feel.

You might find out that it is a habit they feel no remorse over and plan on sticking to.

Then, for the good of yourself and your mental health, it might be best to leave if it comes down to that.

How to Deal with Bullies at Work – Concluding Remarks 

Do you have bullies at work and wonder how to deal with them?

Now, you wonder no more.

With all the practical measures so far discussed, you can effectively deal with and beat bullies without using your fists.