Is There A Bully In Your Office?

bully in the office

We are very much aware of bullying that takes place at our schools and how much it affects the lives of our children.  But have you considered the consequences of bullying at work?  Did you know that it even existed?

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute[1] workplace bullying is “abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or causes work interference – sabotage- which prevents work from getting done, or verbal abuse.”

Perhaps we haven’t called it bullying, but we’ve all seen it – or at least seen its aftermath – and the devastation it can cause to individuals and company morale.  Whether you are a victim of workplace bullying or know of someone who is, here are five tips that you should keep in mind when dealing with that hothead coworker (or boss) to defuse or at least manage the situation.

First and foremost, any hostile, abusive or inappropriate behavior should be reported to your boss and/or human resources department immediately to ensure appropriate action and proper documentation of the event.

  1. Always remember it’s not you – it’s them. The source of the hostility is not you – you have not brought this on yourself and, in most cases, it has to do with what the other person is going through.
  2. Don’t take the bait. In many cases, the other person is trying to get a reaction out of you.  If you are aware of what is going on and keep your wits about you, you can essentially defuse the situation quickly.
  3. Don’t argue. Focus on behavior.  While you may disagree with what they say, don’t match their anger with your own.  Instead, take a step back and tell them that you are happy to discuss the subject when they can keep it professional – no yelling, no over-the-top behavior, etc.
  4. Step away. When tempers flare, things get said that shouldn’t, and that can make matters worse.  If you feel things are getting a little heated, take a break and cool off.  Once you have calmed down, you’ll both be better prepared to discuss the issue at hand.
  5. Stay safe. When it comes to bullying or any hostile situation, your safety is of the utmost importance.  Don’t let them back you into a corner where you have no safe way to leave, and certainly don’t touch them or threaten them.  Even pointing a finger at them could be misconstrued as a threat.  Above all, don’t get involved in a physical confrontation…it will always end badly.

These suggestions from  are offered to prepare you in case you find yourself in a hostile situation or are confronted by a bully at work.  Finally, immediately let others know what’s going on.  It’s for your protection, and perhaps a superior can intervene and help you settle your disagreement.

Could your office benefit from training on how to resolve conflict in the workplace?  Call Business Relationship Edge at 732.859.8419 to learn more or visit


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