Workplace Bullying
Career Advice,  ChampLeaders Boot Camp,  Leadership

How to Deal with Workplace Bullying

Updated Content 

First Publised: July 20, 2019

Bullying is unacceptable.

Let me just get it out there so you know that this is something that should not be tolerated in any shape or form.

But unfortunately, it’s something that we live with one way or another. And sometimes, this happens at work.

If you’re in a situation where you desperately need the job and need to endure bullying at work because you are waiting on a call from companies then yup, you’ll have to take this (albeit not forever) until you get the new job.

Before I share with you career tips to deal with this, let’s get into some definition and stats about bullying.

Bullying in the Workplace means the following:

Workplace Bullying Behaviors


  • Sarcasm, condescension, name-calling

  • Public belittling, taunting, criticizing, and teasing

  • Singling people out in negative ways

  • Shouting and intimidation

  • Withholding resources

If you experience any of the above behaviors at work then yup, you are dealing with a bully.

Sometimes, these behaviors happen in the most subtle way that you might not pinpoint immediately especially if you’ve been dealing with it for years. It’s important that you know the tell-tale signs, so you become aware on how to deal with these situations much better.

Now for some mind-blowing stats about workplace bullying found in Linkedin…

Workplace bullying Stats

  • Every target of a bully may lose up to 200 hours of productivity annually. If that targeted employee takes sick or vacation time, it may be a total of 400 hours of lost production to the employer.
  • In 2011, half of employees in a workplace survey said they were treated rudely at least once a week at their job. This was an increase of 25% from a similar survey in 1998.
  • 96% of American employees experience bullying in the workplace.
  • 62% saw sabotaging of others’ work or reputations as the primary form of bullying in the workplace.
  • Women [53%] are more likely to be bullies in the workplace than men [47%].
  • Bosses make up the majority of bullies.
  • 54% of bullies have been bullying for more than 5 years.
  • Workplace Bullying is counterproductive and while the intention of bullies (well, mostly) is to get shit done, they may be able to get short wins but this is an express trip to losing the hearts and minds of the employees  in the long term.

    Here’s some Career Tips that I’ve used in the past …

    1. Seek to understand

    This may sound like you are not fighting back and being passive with the bully but it isn’t. Seeking to understand where the other person is coming from will help you get better perspective on the behavior.

    Try your best to strip the emotions from the situation and genuinely understand why the behavior happened.

    Answer these tough questions.

    • Was it work not completed?
    • Was it not up to standards?
    • Was the deadline met?
    • Was there miscommunication along the way?
    •  Were expectations not met in the course of the getting the job done?

    Ask yourself the hard questions and answer honestly. Chances are you will get to understand why your Boss acted the way that she/he did.

    Oftentimes, people don’t get upset for no reason. There is always something that triggered the emotion or behavior that resulted to the reaction.

    Workplace Bullying
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    2. Accept Opportunities

    As you think through the reasons why the behavior happened, own up to your mistakes and opportunities. Nobody is perfect.

    Ownership is part of building a strong mental foundation that is essential to your success at work. Only a strong mind can beat bullies.

    If you really dropped the ball, then own up to it.

    Part of ownership is learning from what happened. So, be sure to note the things you have learned in the process and address them immediately.

    3. Communicate with your Boss

    Workplace bullying is something that happens quite often in a professional setting and should be addressed.

      After resolving the issue and the dust has settled with the root cause of your Boss’ behavior, then go ahead and have a serious conversation with your Boss.

      Workplace bullies are aware of their behaviors.

      But oftentimes, nobody confronts them and because of this, they feel invincible. The environment at work has allowed the behavior to foster and over time, the bully gets more confidence in being … well, a stronger bully.

      Bullies exist in the workplace because leaders higher up have allowed it to happen. Yes, there is ownership here from the highest levels of leadership.

      The discipline and standards are dictated by senior leaders in an organization. And if senior leaders are not “aware” it’s happening, then there’s an even bigger issue.

      Build that confidence in addressing difficult conversations with your boss especially in situations when you feel bullied.

      Remember that a critical skill in being a leader is not only communicating the good news, but the bad news too.

      Start with and then or challenging. And the most important part, describe the . 

    I suggest that you use the S-B-I Model. Situation, Behavior and Impact. 

    To prepare accordingly, here’s some quick tips:

    • Write down the situation in bullets. Take out the emotion. Focus on the real meat of the what happened.
    • Associate what happened with a behavior. Be specific on the action. Example, “You sent the information a day before the deadline and yelled at me as you were following up at the end of the day.”
    • Provide the impact of the behavior. Use words like, “Your action made me feel…” or “What you did made me look like …”. Describe the outcome of the behavior that you want addressed. Don’t shy away from naming your emotions.

    Check out these 50 Team Engagement Activities Guide that will Transform your Team Today!

    4. Document the interaction

    Yes, this may be difficult. But this gives you protection in the long run when sh** hits the fan.

    Write an email after your conversation and send it to your boss. Be objective and outline the points discussed or lack thereof.

    Remember that this email is the Minutes of your discussion. Take out any emotion and just be straightforward.

    This is an important Career Tip that oftentimes get disregarded. Documentation is important in the professional setting. If you don't document then it's assumed that IT NEVER HAPPENED. 

    And, bullies often calm down and get their actions in check after documentation is done. Some will get upset and bully you even more but do not be afraid.

    You have time stamped the incident and this will go a long way when you must face Human Resources.

    Also, depending on the severity of your discussion, go ahead and forward the email to Human Resources with a note on confidentiality after you send it to your Boss.


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    Losing sleep over your team?

    Spending way more time at work than with your loved ones because of problems with your team? 

    Wondering how you can KEEP them motivated so they work harder?

    Build a Reliable Team Engagement Program that actually works.

    5. Be aware of the bully's actions AFTER your discussion

    Retaliation happens in different ways so be cognizant of subtle queues. If you start getting “less work” or you suddenly get to be an outcast or worst, fired then these are tell-tale signs of retaliation.

    If you get this treatment after your conversation, then my advice is to document.

    You need a trail that will need to be referenced at one point or another that includes dates and specific behaviors. Always remain objective .

    However, if your Boss starts to have a change of heart and starts to treat you better or at least is trying to make a change then embrace the situation.

    Give your Boss a chance to redeem himself/herself.

    Just as you bravely and confidently talked to him/her about being bullied then be open to change and reconciliation. As you take on the change in your Boss’ behavior, you will realize your strength and that while the experience was tough, it has brought about a good change.

    This is a win in itself.

    6. Decide on staying or moving on.

    I’ve come across a quote lately that said, “The hardest thing to do is to stay or to go.” Or something to that effect.
    While it may be more personal in nature, it couldn’t be any truer in a workplace setting.
    After you have done your best to communicate and genuinely give your boss a chance at redemption and the bullying has not stopped then it’s time for a serious decision-making move.
    Weigh in all the factors that are important in your life, career and overall situation. More importantly, think hard about your values.
    Workplace bullying is #real.
    And you must decide if you want to walk away from it or not. There are some people I know of that experience bullying in the workplace for years but has gotten used to the bad behavior that they have accepted it as the norm.
    Bullying is NEVER normal. And it shouldn’t be.
    Take a stand and follow through. Whether you stay or go, be firm on your decision.

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    While communication of mid-level management is important, a support structure that encourages communication and reconciliation should be in place.
    Be an advocate of change and be mindful of your behavior.
    The last thing you want to happen is your team accusing you of being the bully. Champion leaders bring the team together.
    Be the glue that binds the team. Nourish your team with positive reinforcements. This will build a lasting environment that fosters loyalty and hard work.

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    About Daisy Casio

    Daisy Casio is a Passionate Operations Leader with over 16 years of work experience in various leadership roles. She has run diverse teams in multiple locations and has built teams from the ground up. She is the Founder of ChampLeaders Blog dedicated to transforming leaders to Champions. She writes about leadership, management, productivity, career tips, team engagement and many more. 

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