How to stand up to office bullies


My boss sends me nasty emails. My manager shouts at me in public. My colleague speaks behind my back. My co-worker posts mean stuff about me on social media. All these are clear signs that you are being bullied at work. Let's show you how to tackle these bullies and stop bullying at the workplace.

My recent article on work place bullying got responses, soon after it was published. It became evident that workplace bullying was for real. It is another matter that most individuals don't see the bullying for what it is, or just fail to recognise it as something that needs to stop.

The office environment and hierarchy at work is such that individuals just learn to take the bullying in their stride. They do not stand up to the office bullies and their reasons for that are often quite legitimate. They fear they might be accused of insubordination and lose their job; they do not know how to retaliate or they do not know whom to report the bullying too and most often they do not want to look for another job. The fear factor has them remaining quiet and tolerating the nonsense.



I don't blame them for their inaction. The bullies do a good job at intimidating people, they are pros at that. It takes some kind of special tactics to deal with the office bully and you should know how to handle bullying when you are faced with a situation. The workplace bully is a reality and you'll probably face one at your workplace.

Identifying an office bully

Workplace bullies are no different from the playground and school bullies. Bullies display characteristic behaviour - they intimidate, pass underhanded insults, resort to public embarrassment and manipulate people. Their behaviour can be terrifying, but you don't have to be fearful of them and put up with their bullying.

As an adult, you are more than capable of detecting spiteful behaviour than you were as a kid. As an adult, you are also capable of reacting to malicious behaviour with tact. A professional approach will get you better results than whining or cribbing. The way you respond to the bullying decides how the perpetrator reacts. Stand up to the bully and it will deter them, keep mum and you give them more ammunition to go after you with.

Tact is very important when handling office bullies. They expect you to cringe and become mortified with their behaviour, but you surprise them when you respond to that behaviour with tact.

Let's introduce you to three types of office bullies and their modus operandi and how you should respond to their attacks.

Sends nasty emails

This kind of bully launches an email assault. They do it so smoothly that you won't realise their ploy until after it is too late. It starts with a cordial exchange of emails and to and fro exchange of ideas on something that you two are working on. And before you know it the bully cc's other people in the emails that they send you.

What's not fine is that now the tone of their emails is different from when it started. They virtually shame you and your ideas and keep everyone posted about what they are doing. Not for once do they think that their behaviour is despicable, they are just trying to intimidate you and shame you in front of the colleagues. It's a power game and this is the best way that they can stay on top.

How to respond to nasty emails

The best way to deal with such a situation is to not respond. Read the email, but don't react, let a few hours pass, but confront the bully before the end of the day. Walk right up to them and question them about the nasty mail that they sent you. You can either go to their work-station or confront them in a more public space, like the cafeteria. Keep your cool, but let them know that you are there to discuss the email that they sent and the language or accusations or insults that they used in it.



Let them know that you mean business and will not stand up for such nonsense. Most bullies, back off when confronted, because they know how to attack, and can't handle being attacked. Chances are that the bully will try and salvage the situation because such bullies are not cut out for a face to face clash. They are only good at attacking from behind, and with others watching they find themselves in a spot.

Once they realise that you will come after them, they will leave you. However, do not be aggressive in your approach. Be calm and keep your wits about you. You want a showdown, but on your terms, without aggression, because that is something that can be held against you.

Takes to social media

This kind of bully also attacks from behind, by posting derogatory or inflammatory posts on their social media, which you and your peers are part of. They often put up status updates about you, not direct, but insinuating stuff directed at you. Their statuses are clearly aimed at you, and you are smart enough to know that, but there is not much that you can do about it because the post doesn't implicate you directly; it is always about 'some people blah blah blah…'

What do you do about it

Well, in this case, do nothing about it. The bully is striking a self-goal, with each passive-aggressive status that they post. If you are watching, so are the others and they too can see through the façade and see the bully for who they are. Such behaviour doesn't go well with people, and soon the bully will get ostracised for their 'some people' posts.

The office tyrant

This type of bullies are really a mean person; they are vicious, malicious and are provocative and in your face. They attack without hiding behind a shield, they feel powerful when they use harsh language. They use their loud voice to intimidate, they argue with a passion and convert a discussion into a fierce battle of words. They stoop to really low levels, play dirty politics and indulge in gossip and mudslinging.

They do not hesitate in calling you names, disclosing your secrets, using foul language and bad-mouthing you.

Such kind of bullying is a tad difficult to deal with because it comes from people who are confident of their abilities and so full of themselves.

Dealing with the office meanie

There is no easy way of dealing with such kind of bullies. You just cannot handle them on your own and will need to seek help. When someone displays repeated contemptuous behaviour towards you, it is time to act. Report the behaviour to your manager because they know you well or go to HR. Remember to take evidence along, you want to provide proof of what is going on. That would back your claim and you'd get a better hearing and a positive response.

This kind of behaviour is best-taken care of by someone in authority. Do not exert your time and energy in fighting off such bullies. It is not worth it and will only stress you more. There are certain situations where you need to decide whether you want something to continue or want it to stop, and this is one such situation. It is fine to go and report the matter, don't be scared of the consequences. It is a step you need to take to create a healthy work environment for yourself – you owe it to yourself.

Finally, don't let the incidents affect your work. The bully succeeds if you let their behaviour get to you. Don't run away, take them head-on, challenge their dominance because bullies are scared of that.

What's been your experience? Have you faced bullying at your workplace? How did you react? What measures did you take to stop it? Do post your response in the comments section.


Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Comments

Author: Umesh22 Jun 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

An excellent article on office bullies and how to handle them. Yes, it is true that these mean personalities are there in every workplace and create problems and embarrassments for the simple hard working people.

One thing which I have experienced in my service period is that if you become aggressive on these people they change their tone and try to cajole or take you with them as if all are one group and then channelize everyone to a third person who is now going to be the victim of their meanness. So, these people are really very clever to change their colour like a chameleon. We have to be very very careful and alert about these bullies and should not believe a word of what they tell us or share with us. It is all part of a trap laid down for us by them. They have to be dealt with sternly and firmly and time to time are to be shown their place. I am not aware of the private organisations but in Govt organisations, such bullies will invariably be there creating a lot of nuisance.



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