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Get help with Workplace BullyingWorkplace Bullying

Definition of Workplace Bullying

Bullying at work is the repeated, health or career endangering mistreatment of one employee, by one or more employees.  The mistreatment is a form of psychological violence and is often a mix of verbal and strategic insults preventing the target from performing work well. 

Issues from the User Forum:

Workplace Bullying

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I am a receptionist for my company and I am harassed (bullied) over the telephone by constant interrupting phone calls from an employees wife. This has been on going for over 5 months and I have been keeping a log of the times an...
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The problems of Workplace Bullying

  • Litigation is not effective
    • Few laws regarding it
    • Difficulty in building the case
    • Some bullies have the attitudes of “so sue me” due to the difficulties in building a case
    • Employers can outspend and outlast lone plaintiffs
    • Financial jeopardy for the target due to the high legal costs
    • The payoff due to bulling wins are relatively low and often do not justify the costs of litigation
  • Poor support for the targets
  • It is up to the person being bullied to address it on their own
  • Many companies look for bulling amongst the workers, but most bullying actually comes from management

The cost of bullying

82% of targets feel they have to leave their jobs   *The Bully at Work, Gary and Ruth Namie
When employees voluntarily leave their job, 50% of them have done so due to issues with their supervisor

Steps to solve bullying:

  1. Understand the bully
    • Chronic bullies – people who identify that bullying is a part of their nature, and do not perceive a need to change their actions
    • Opportunist bullies – competitive people who are interested in making career gains even though it may involve stepping on other people
    • Accidental bullies – bullying caused by social ineptness and lack of awareness. 
    • Substance abusing bullies – people whose social interactions are impaired by their dependence on artificial stimulants
  1. Identify the type of bullying
    • Unrealistic job demands
    • Unreasonable criticism
    • Creating an inconsistent or unfair work environment
    • Not giving credit where it is due
    • Insults, putdowns, yelling, screaming, and other abusive behavior
  1. Document the instances of bullying in detail
    • Document specifics, time and date
    • Identify allies
    • Determine code violations
  1. Determine a plan to resolve the bullying
    • Request a meeting time where you can confront the bully in a professional setting
    • Seek assistance from senior management.
    • Seek third party mediation
    • Seek legal advice
    • Get medical attention
    • Establish and protect boundaries
    • Do not blame yourself
    • Solicit witness statements
    • Follow internal complaint processes
  1. Communicate the problems with the bully or two levels of management higher than the bully
  • Taking the bully on directly at work may have undesired or unpredictable consequences for the target
  • In many cases, the bully may be seen by management as “getting the job done”
  • complaining about the bullying may draw repercussions against the target rather than the bully.

When a target reports bullying in the workplace:

11% of targets are transferred

38% left voluntarily

44% were terminated

In only 7% of those cases, was the bully censored, transferred or terminated.  

*WBTI Research (2003)

The Anonymous Option

When communicating with either the bully about their actions, or with management, it may be suggested to remain anonymous so that you have a greater sense of the outcome without needing to endanger your position. 

    • Communicate anonymously to the bully at
    • Communicate anonymously with the bully’s boss at to determine how much support they may be willing to offer
    • Suggest better employment practices
    • Determine cost to company of downtime/turnover

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