How To Deal With The Workplace Bully


Have you ever felt tension with a co-worker? Perhaps they rubbished one of your ideas, made you feel inadequate, or undermined you in order to get ahead.

Well, according to a new study by banking consultant, Cecilia Harvey, you’re not alone. Her research into what she calls, the ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’, at work, found that 70% of female executives had been bullied by a female boss.

What’s more, a further 33% said that they’d been undermined by women either junior to them, or on the same level as them.

Dealing with the workplace bully can be intimidating, but it’s important to tackle it head-on, to avoid the situation getting worse. Read on for our insights on how to deal with the workplace bully.

Understand the signs of bullying

Firstly, it’s important to understand the signs of bullying. While it’s easy to put someone’s attitude or behaviour down to them having a bad day or personal issues, the reality is, this isn’t acceptable if it’s getting you down or making you feel uncomfortable.

Workplace bullying can take many different forms. It could be that you feel you’re constantly being criticised and picked on in front of your colleagues. You may feel that you’re being excluded, or there have been threats made about your job.

Bullying can take place over email, in person, or worse, on social media outside of work. Whatever it is, this is not ok, especially if it’s making you feel stressed or affecting you in your personal and professional life.

Prepare a list of evidence

Gathering evidence of incidents where you’ve felt bulled is crucial. Perhaps they’ve sent you passive-aggressive emails or undermined you in front of your co-workers. Keeping a note of these occurrences will help you out when it comes to reporting them.

Include a reference of the date, what happened, and what was said. You should also make a note of anyone else who was there at the time and may have witnessed it. Don’t forget to also write down how it made you feel. Sometimes it can be hard to recall such emotions or remember exactly what happened. So, having a list of evidence can help you out.

Don’t retaliate

If someone is acting brash towards you, it’s important not to retaliate. After all, you don’t want to get caught up in an office brawl or be accused of bullying yourself.

Rather than getting angry with them, take a deep breath and a step back. Remember, you are no less important than them, but the way they’re dealing with the situation is not something you want to get involved in. Be the bigger person and take the high road.

Be assertive and stand your ground

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stand your ground. Being assertive is important. It could even encourage your colleagues to act the same.

Remember, bullies, enjoy feeling powerful. If you stand up for yourself in the right way, they’re more likely to leave you alone. Just don’t stoop to their level. This could come back to bite you later down the line.

Speak to your manager or HR

If a colleague is bullying you, it’s important to approach your boss about the issue. Refer back to that evidence you prepared earlier and ask for a meeting where you can explain what’s happened.

A good manager should be able to guide you through the situation and take the necessary steps to rectify the issue. However, if you don’t feel you’re getting the support you need from them, you can escalate it to the HR department.

In addition, if you’re feeling bullied by your manager, HR will be your go-to. This might not be easy to do; especially if you work in a small organisation, however, as a business they have a duty to protect you.

Don’t let a workplace bully get you down

Bullying is not acceptable in any situation, let alone in the workplace. It’s important to recognise the signs of bullying and to prepare a list of evidence if you do feel as if you’re being targeted.

The workplace should be a fair and equal environment and while there are certainly different levels of seniority, you shouldn’t be made to feel as if you are inadequate. Take the above advice on board and remember to escalate the issue to your HR team if you feel the situation worsening.

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