Managing The Bully

Most people are unaware that bullying is a common occurrence in the workplace.  Managing the bully is an essential skill.


Many individuals are well acquainted with this unfortunate workplace abuse; either by being the bully, or being on the receiving end of one.


A survey polling 1000 respondents highlighted that only 4% of respondents confirmed they’d never been bullied, or felt bullied at work. A shocking 96% have felt bullied at one point or another throughout their career.


It’s easy to believe that bullying is only initiated by those in authoritative positions, such as a managers or team leads. However this isn’t always the case. The survey stated that 25% of professionals who had felt bullied or have been bullied, were bullied by a colleague or peer.


Bullying has numerous negative effects, from health concerns to low productivity and undue stress in the workplace. This is why it’s imperative that the necessary steps are taken when managing the bully, to counteract this behaviour.

Below are a few suggestions for you to consider if you happen to find yourself being bullied while at work.

If you believe that you are being bullied in the workplace, one of the first things you have to do is take stock of the situation. Try to discover how you might be influencing this challenging situation.


While it is possible that nothing you do actually influences being bullied, however, the aim here is to well and truly assess the situation to know if you are doing something to provoke the situation. If you find out that something you do is contributing to the situation, attempt to alter this behaviour to asses whether the outcome becomes different. From this perspective, this can be the best method in determining how you go about this situation.


One thing you should bear in mind is that we all make mistakes. Take some time out to understand if the situation can be classified as bullying, or if it was a one-off event that happened because the party at fault had a terrible day. If this is the case, it would be best to simply move on and let it go.

Understandably, numerous people are fearful to speak up if they feel they are bullied. This might be out of concern for what others think. Additionally, if the individual bullying them is someone in a place of authority over them, then speaking out could put their livelihood in danger.


The long term, continuous bullying is bound to have a very negative influence on one’s wellbeing. This then has a knock-on effect on your ability to perform your job to the best of your ability. This is why you have to care for yourself by developing a plan of action that helps you address the situation.

If you do not feel comfortable directly confronting the individual bullying you, you could discuss the issue with human resources or your manager.


The option you choose should be one that feels right for you. One thing to remember is, when voicing your concerns to others, you should not apportion blame. What you should do is create a game plan of how the bullying is going to be addressed and how it affects the wellbeing, morale, and productivity of those concerned.

While this can be quite difficult to do even for the most detached person, it is still important that the bullying is not taken personally.


You should always remember that bullying is much more about the bully than the person being bullied. Often times, when a person decides to bully, they feel insecure and attempt to control the narrative by belittling others.


What you should do is work on creating healthy emotional borders which stops you from feeling terrible like they want, or reacting to a bully.

Doing this might be the most difficult thing to do, but you have to fight through that discomfort to not only speak up but also stand up for yourself when facing a bully. You have to let them know that it is not appropriate for them to talk to you the way they do. You could use the phrases below:


  • I don’t appreciate you speaking to me like that
  • We should move this conversation back to a point where it can become productive
  • Let’s take some time to pause on this matter

If the situation is becoming untenable, leaving should be considered.


The most important thing should be your wellbeing. Without it, you are unable to properly function and do your duties. If you have taken steps to eradicate the bullying to no avail, then you should consider exploring other options.


You could consider job opportunities with a different department or even a new organisation.

Ensure that everything is documents.


This tip is a very important one that you must remember. You should document every interaction you have with your bully. Not only does this help you create an event timeline, but it also aids you in recalling information when it is needed.


If the bully is trying to make you look incompetent, then you could request a written confirmation that details his or her assertion. What this means is that you should communicate with your bully via email so that there is written evidence of such communication.

As stated earlier, most people tend to believe bullying does not occur in the workplace, or that it has a lower incident rate at organisations, but this is far from the truth.


If you are in a situation where you feel you are being bullied, you have to take action to protect your wellbeing.


All these tips are useful when encountering a bully, so do not be afraid to take a stand as it empowers those going through the very same situation around you.

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