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February 11, 2014

How to Handle Office Bullies

Bullies aren’t found just in schools, on playgrounds, and online. There are bullies in offices everywhere. Adult bullies can be sneakier and less obvious than their child and teen counterparts, but their actions are just as harmful to people and productivity.Woman yelling in megaphone

Bullying behavior in the workplace includes:

  • Withholding information or resources that people need.
  • Spreading hurtful and/or insulting rumors and gossip.
  • Humiliating and disrespecting people in public.
  • Being hypercritical and negative toward a specific person.
  • Undermining a person with management and their team.
  • Isolating and blatantly ignoring a person.

Bullying behavior must be addressed and handled because it can destroy a person’s self-esteem and confidence and will erode morale, motivation, and productivity in the office. Here are some tips to help you handle this challenge:

  • Take action as soon as you become aware of the bullying. Delay can make the situation worse.
  • Research the situation. You need facts to ensure that bullying is really occurring.
  • Consider the sources of anecdotal reports. The interests and agendas of the people who give you evidence can color their interpretations.
  • Be completely fair, reasonable, and objective!
  • Document the bullying behavior and its consequences to both the person being bullied and to the work environment.

If you discover that bullying is occurring, follow your company’s policies and procedures for taking corrective action and ask for assistance from your HR department.

See my blog post The Dangers of Office Gossip for more information.


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