Three Ways to Spot a Bully at Work and How to Handle Them

When I graduated junior high, I thought I'd left bullying behind. I was wrong. When I graduated high school, I again thought bullying was in the past, but no. There it was at college and even in the workplace.

Bullying is just an ugly side of human nature and will forever need to be controlled.

Definition of Bullying

Bullying is serious.

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as — the repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:

• Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or

• Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or

• Verbal abuse

Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying is also frighteningly common!

A Forbes article cited work by Judy Blando of the University of Phoenix that demonstarted that almost 75 percent of employees surveyed had been affected by workplace bullying, whether as a target or a witness.

Three Ways to Spot a Bully

So what can you do? The first thing is to spot the bullies. This is not an inclusive list, but here are three easy ways to decide if a co-worker might be a bully.

Torments. This covers a lot of ground because there are endless ways to torment a co-worker — from “intentionally” ignoring them to sabotaging their work.

Throws Co-workers Under the Bus. People who tattle and have others take the blame for their mistakes.

Publically humiliates. Individuals that say “I’m just joking”, but use that as a shield when telling jokes at others expense.

Handling Bullies

If you have bullying going on in your workplace, the first course of action is . . . action! Quite often there is a need for conflict management and that may entail conflict management training.

1. Encourage communication. Give people a voice. Speak openly about bullying and allow others to speak about their experiences. No one should be suffering in silence or be in conflict with a bully.

2. Offer video training so everyone, including the bully, can look at both sides. There is a wide variety of great training videos on the topic. Here are just a few:

3. Enforce company policies. Make sure employees know the company’s policies about bullying. If your company doesn’t have any policies, it might be time to talk to the HR department (possibility with the assistance of an attorney) write some up.

We will never rid the world of bullies. But we can go a long way to making sure they aren’t wreaking havoc at work!

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a screenwriter and freelance writer and editor--with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines.