Stopping a Bully in the Workplace

When you were a kid, bullies were sent to the principal's office. But if you've got a bully in the workplace, it's not quite as easy.

Bullying comes in many forms—from gossiping and spreading rumors to placing someone in a dangerous situation.

The Effects of Bullying

According to Let's Talk . . . Harassment & Bullying, which provides a candid look at the topic, bullied employees can experience:

  • A great deal of stress
  • An inability to focus
  • Less productivity
  • Unsafe conditions
  • Health issues like headaches and digestive problems
  • .  . . You get the idea.

Depending on the harassment, bullying can also cause a company to face legal issues. In short, bullying is toxic. It's bad for everyone's morale and productivity and has nothing but negative effects on the company's bottom line.

How to Handle Bullies

If you're the target of a bully, Chrissy Scivicque, the founder of, has a five-step answer.

  • Evaluate. Look at the situation objectively. Is this person generally foul to everyone or just picking on you? Or does the person just have a bad attitude. If the person is just unpleasant you're probably not alone. Practice patience and try to keep it from affecting your work. If it ramps up to true bullying, step up your game.
  • Stand up for yourself. Don't be an easy target. Don't get ruffled. Set your limits. Be professional. Bullies want a reaction; don't give it to them.
  • Document the Situation. Keep a log of what happens and every time it happens. Should things get worse, the log will be invaluable.
  • Involve Supervisors. Bullies can be relentless. You may need to call in for help. Human Resources are often the best resource, but if not choose a trusted supervisor. Patience is again needed, as your supervisor may have to deal with bigger issues and legal ramifications.
  • Move on. If you've done everything you can do and nothing has changed, it's time to consider moving on. You're not letting the bully win; you are taking care of yourself. You deserve a workplace that is safe and values you.

The major point here is that bullying can't be tolerated. It wasn't tolerated in school and it has no place at work. By standing up for yourself you're not only helping yourself, you are helping the entire company.

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.