How to Deal with Bullies at Work

How to Deal with Bullies at Work

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1. Research your company's policy

If you're being bullied at work or know of someone who is, research your company's policies to determine the proper protocols to report such activity.  Many organizations have a no-tolerance policy for such behavior, which includes reporting guidelines when being subject to or witnessing it. If your organization 

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1. Research your company's policy

doesn't have a policy or the current policy needs updating to reflect remote work arrangements, speak to your manager or HR department about putting a new company policy in place to protect employees from abuse.

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2. Take a beat

If you feel you are being bullied at work, take a breather to size up the situation. From a calm and grounded perspective, you can determine the best way to deal with the situation. Tip: Keep in mind that people make mistakes. Take a moment to size up the situation and determine if the "bullying" was simply a one-time incident or something that will evolve into continued abuse and harassment.

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3. Take care of your wellbeing and mental health

Understandably, many individuals are afraid to speak up when they are being bullied. They might be concerned about what others will think. And, if the bully is their boss or someone in a position of power, then one's livelihood is at stake. However, bullying can have a negative impact on your overall wellbeing, both mentally and 

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3. Take care of your wellbeing and mental health

physically. Take care of yourself by pulling resources together to support you. A mental health professional or counselor is an excellent place to start to help you deal with the stress of bullying and come up with solutions on how to handle it.

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4. Talk to your higher-ups or HR

If you are not comfortable speaking to the individual who is bullying you directly, you might need to discuss it with your manager or human resources. Choose the course of action that feels best for you for your situation. Tip: When addressing your concerns, focus on the negative impact on productivity, wellbeing, and morale while staying professional and calm.

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5. Don't take it personally

While this is easier said than done, do your best to not take bullying personally. Remember, when someone is bullying you, it's more about them than it is about you.  Often, a bully is acting from a place of insecurity, jealously, and/or from a need to control. In fact, the targets of bullies are often high performers that do well at work. Practice having 

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5. Don't take it personally

healthy emotional boundaries that keep you from reacting or feeling bad about yourself when workplace bullying occurs.

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6. Address the issue directly and rise above

This won't always be possible or comfortable, but it is often best to speak up and stand your ground when communicating with a bully. At the same time, you want to be professional and take the high road. Augustine advises, “Stay calm and rise above. Take the higher ground and try to respond in a rational and professional 

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6. Address the issue directly and rise above

manner. There's no point in trying to beat a bully at their own game, as it will only add fuel to the fire. Instead, address the conflict head-on by letting them know — in a non-accusatory tone — how their actions are making you feel.” Fran Hauser, author of "The Myth of the Nice Girl," suggests the following phrases when dealing with a work bully or 

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6. Address the issue directly and rise above

someone who is not treating you appropriately: – "Please don't talk to me that way." – "Let's try to get this conversation to a place where it can be productive." – "Let's take a break and come back to this later."

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7. Leave if it's not worth it

Your wellbeing and mental health are most important, and without it you're no good to anyone. If you have done all you can to eliminate the bullying, but it's still occurring, then it might be time to explore other options and leave the organization. It might feel like the bully won if this is the avenue you choose, but when you take care of 

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7. Leave if it's not worth it

yourself and leave a bad situation, you're the winner. Also, you want to know you're working for an organization that takes care of its employees and puts a stop to abusive behavior when it occurs.

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8. Document all of it

This bit of advice on how to handle bullying in the workplace is extremely important to remember: Always document everything related to your interactions with the bully. This not only provides a timeline of events, but it also helps you recall information more easily when needed. Augustine suggests, “Save email threads, take 

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8. Document all of it

screenshots of text messages, and keep a log of the instances in which your colleague bullied you. Jot down the dates, times, locations, and the names of any people who witnessed your co-worker bullying you firsthand. If you have the ability to record your video conference meetings, do so and hold on to the files, should you need to 

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8. Document all of it

present them as evidence of your colleague's bullying ways.” When possible, communicate via email when dealing with a bully to have a written record of the communication, as well. Tip: If a bully is attempting to make you look bad or imply you're not doing your job, you can ask for written confirmation and details that they will have to own up to when questioned.

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9. Consult with an attorney

Though states do have rules and regulations in place for bullying, it's not illegal. However, bullying that is also considered harassment is illegal.  If you don't get a resolution at work after going through all of the channels you know to go through, you might want to speak to an attorney to discuss your options. Generally, this 

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9. Consult with an attorney

is a last resort due to cost and time required to pursue legal channels but could be worth it depending on your circumstances.

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