Bullying in the Workplace: How to Recognize and Deal with Bullying (2023)

Bullying in the Workplace: How to Recognize and Deal with Bullying (1)Share on Pinterest

Workplace bullying is harmful and targeted behavior in the workplace. It can be spiteful, abusive, mocking, or intimidating. It forms a pattern and tends to target one or a few people.

Some examples of bullying are:

  • directed pranks
  • intentionally misleading about professional duties, such as B. wrong deadlines or unclear instructions
  • continued refusal of leave requests without reasonable or valid reason
  • Threats, humiliation and other verbal abuse
  • excessive performance monitoring
  • Criticism that is too harsh or unfair

Reviews or followers are not always bullying. For example, objective and constructive criticism and disciplinary action directly related to workplace behavior or job performance are not considered harassment.

But criticism designed to intimidate, humiliate, or single out someone for no reason would be considered harassment.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, bullying affects more than 60 million workers in the United States.

Existing federal and state laws protect workers from harassment only when it involves physical harm or when the target belongs to a protected group, such as B. People with disabilities or people of color.

Because bullying is often verbal or psychological in nature, it may not always be visible to others.

Read on to learn more about how to recognize workplace bullying, how workplace bullying can affect you, and how to safely stop bullying.

Bullying can be subtle. A helpful way to recognize bullying is to think about how others might see what is going on. This may depend, at least in part, on the circumstances. But when most people see a certain behavior as irrational, it's usually bullying.

types of bullying

Bullying behavior can be:

  • Minutes.This may include teasing, humiliation, teasing, gossip, or other verbal abuse.
  • intimidating.This can include threats, social exclusion at work, espionage or other invasions of privacy.
  • Related to job performance.Examples include arbitrary blame, sabotage or interference with work, theft, or acknowledgment of ideas.
  • Vindictive.In some cases, speaking out about harassment can result in allegations of lying, further ostracism, denied promotions, or other retaliation.
  • Institutional.Institutional bullying occurs when a workplace accepts, allows, and even encourages bullying. This intimidation can include unrealistic production targets, forced overtime, or weeding out those who can't keep up.

Bullying behavior is repeated over time. This distinguishes it from bullying, which is mostly limited to an individual case. Persistent harassment can turn into bullying, but because harassment refers to actions taken against a protected group of people, unlike bullying, it is illegal.

Early warning signs of bullying can be:

  • Colleagues may be silent or leave the room when you enter, or just ignore you.
  • You can stay away from office culture like team chat, party or lunch.
  • Your supervisor or manager may call on you frequently for no apparent reason, or ask you to meet several times a week.
  • You may be asked to perform new duties or tasks outside of your typical roles without training or support, even when asked to do so.
  • It may seem that your work is frequently monitored to the point where you start to doubt yourself and struggle with your regular duties.
  • They may ask you to do difficult or seemingly pointless tasks and taunt or criticize you when you don't do them.
  • You may notice a pattern of losing documents, files, other work-related items, or personal items.

These incidents may at first seem random. If they continue, you may worry that something you did caused them and fear getting fired or demoted. Thinking about work, even in your free time, can cause itAngstand fear

(Video) How to tell if you're being bullied at work? 🤔 BBC

Anyone can bully others. According to a 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute survey:

  • About 70 percent of the harassers are men and about 30 percent are women.
  • Both male and female bullies are more likely to target women.
  • Sixty-one percent of bullying comes from supervisors or supervisors. 33 percent come from colleagues. The remaining 6% occurs when people with lower employment levels bully their bosses or others above them.
  • Protected groups are more likely to be harassed. Only 19 percent of those bullied were white.

Harassment by managers can include abuse of power, including unfair negative performance reviews, yelling at or threatening to fire or demotion, denial of time off, or transfer to another department.

She often intimidates people working at the same level with gossip, sabotage at work, or criticism. Harassment can happen between people who work together, but also between departments.

(Video) Identifying Workplace Bullying

People who work in different departments are more likely to bully emails or spread rumors.

Subordinates may bully those working above them. For example, someone might:

  • Show constant disrespect to your manager
  • refuse to do chores
  • Spreading rumors about the manager
  • Doing things to make your manager appear incompetent

AfterSurvey 2014from the Institute on Workplace Bullying, people believed that the victims of bullying were kinder, more compassionate, more cooperative, and more agreeable.

Harassment may be more common in work environments that:

  • are estresantes or cambian with frequency
  • have a heavy workload
  • have unclear policies on employee behavior
  • have poor communication and relationships with employees
  • have more employees who are bored or concerned about job security

Bullying can have significant and serious effects on physical and mental health.

While leaving a job or changing departments can end harassment, it's not always possible. Even if you manage to get out of the bullying environment, the effects of bullying can linger long after the bullying.

Effects of bullying on physical health

If you are being bullied, you can:

  • Nausea or anxiety about work or when thinking about work
  • have physical symptoms such asdigestive problemsÖhigh pressure
  • have onehigher riskProTyp 2 Diabetes
  • Difficulty waking up or getting a good night's sleep
  • to havesomatic symptomssuch as headaches and decreased appetite

Impact of bullying on mental health

The psychological effects of bullying can include:

  • constantly thinking about work and worrying, even in your free time
  • Are afraid of work and want to stay at home
  • need some time to recoveremphasize
  • lose interest in things you usually enjoy doing
  • increased riskProDepressionand fear
  • suicidal thoughts
  • low self-esteem
  • Self-doubt or wondering if you imagined the bullying

How does bullying affect the work environment?

(Video) how to deal with a bully boss at work 1⃣ of 5⃣ Episode 1 of 5

Workplaces with high rates of bullying can also have negative consequences, such as:

  • financial losses due to court costs or bullying investigations
  • Decreased productivity and morale
  • Increase in employee absenteeism
  • high turnover rates
  • bad team dynamics
  • reduced employee trust, effort and loyalty

Individuals who bully may face consequences such as formal reprimands, transfers, or loss of their jobs. But many types of bullying are not illegal.

When bullying is not addressed, it makes it easier for people to continue the bullying, especially if the bullying is subtle. Bullies who take credit for their work or intentionally make others look bad may end up receiving praise or promotions.

When bullying is experienced, one often feels powerless and unable to do anything about it. If you try to confront the abuser, they may threaten you or say no one will believe you. If your manager is bullying you, you may be wondering who to tell.

First, take a moment to remind yourself that bullying is never your fault, no matter what triggered it. Even if someone is harassing you into thinking you can't do your job, harassment is more about power and control than your ability to work.

Start tackling bullying with these steps:

  • Document bullying.Record all bullying actions in writing. Write down the date, time, location of the bullying and other people in the room.
  • Save the physical evidence.Save any threats, comments, or emails you receive, even if they're not signed. If there are documents that can prove bullying, such as B. Denied PTO applications, overly harsh comments on assigned work, etc., keep them in a safe place.
  • Report the harassment.Your workplace may have a designated person that you can speak to if you do not feel comfortable speaking to your line manager. Human resources is a good place to start. It is also possible to discuss bullying with someone higher up if your manager is unhelpful or is the person perpetrating the bullying.
  • Face the bully.If you know who is harassing you, take a trusted witness with you, e.g. B. a colleague or manager and ask them to stop.- zyou feel good about it. Remain calm, direct and polite.
  • Check the working guidelines.The employee handbook can describe steps to be taken or anti-bullying policies. Also, consider checking state or federal policies on the type of bullying you are experiencing.
  • Get legal advice.Depending on the circumstances of the bullying, consider speaking to an attorney. Legal recourse is not always possible, but a lawyer can give specific advice.
  • Get in touch with other people.Colleagues can offer support. Talking to loved ones about bullying can also be helpful. You can also talk to a therapist. They can provide professional support and help you find ways to deal with the effects of bullying while taking further action.

If you are a member of a union, your union representative can offer advice and support on how to deal with bullying.

You can also check your employer's employee assistance program, if it has one. EAPs help you access resources to address a variety of issues that can affect your mental health and overall well-being.

Suicide Prevention Resources

Bullying can affect mental health and general well-being. In some cases, bullying can contribute to depression and suicidal thoughts.

If you have suicidal thoughts, contact a suicide hotline immediately. You can callNational Suicide Prevention Hotline24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

(Video) DEALING WITH A BULLY AT WORK | Successfully Deal with Workplace Bullying (Career Advice)


There are currently no workplace bullying laws in the United States.

The Healthy Workplaces Act, first introduced in 2001, aims to prevent and reduce workplace bullying and its negative effects by providing protection for those who are being bullied. You can also help employers create anti-harassment policies and procedures.

As of 2019, 30 states have adopted some form of this bill. Find out more about the Healthy Workplace Acton here.

How to help if you witness bullying

If you see bullying, speak up! People often remain silent for fear of being attacked, but ignoring bullying creates a toxic work environment.

Anti-harassment policies in the workplace can help people feel more secure when they see bullying happening.

If you witness bullying, you can help:

  • Offer help.Assistance may consist of acting as a witness if the harassed person wishes to ask the harasser to stop. You can also help by going to Human Resources with your colleague.
  • Escuchar.If your co-worker doesn't feel safe going to HR, they may feel better if they have someone to talk to about the situation.
  • reporting the incident.Your account of what happened can help your management team see that there is a problem.
  • Be close to colleagues, if it is possible. Having a colleague close by can help reduce instances of bullying.

Put off

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Bullying is a serious problem in many workplaces. While many companies have a zero-tolerance policy, bullying can sometimes be difficult to detect or prove, making it difficult for managers to take action. Other companies may not have harassment policies.

Taking steps to prevent workplace bullying can benefit companies and the health of their employees. If you have been harassed, know that there are safe steps you can take to address bullying without confronting the bully. Remember to take care of your health first.


1. The Four Workplace Bully Types
(Workplace Bullying Institute-WBI)
2. How to Stop Bullying at Work: Signs of Sneaky Bullying
(Ben Leichtling)
3. How to Deal With a Bully at Work (How to Handle a Workplace Bully)
(Career Contessa)
4. Help - I'm being bullied at work: a practical guide for anyone whose manager is bullying them
(Daniel Barnett, Barrister)
5. Bullying and Corporate Psychopaths at Work: Clive Boddy at TEDxHanzeUniversity
(TEDx Talks)
6. Recognize Covert Bullies at Work | What to Do to Stop Abuse and Bullying | 1-877-8BULLIEs
(Ben Leichtling)


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