How to Cope With a Workplace Bully


Bullying doesn’t necessarily end on the playground. Many who bully as children grow to continue bullying others as an adult. It can be disheartening and frustrating to be on the receiving end of workplace bullying behavior. Still, there are ways you can better cope and manage such behavior within your experience. Here is a brief overview of the most common types of workplace bullying and ways to cope and address it in your life.   

6 Common Types of Workplace Bullies  

The Saboteur – This kind of bullying is motivated by a desire to undermine your every move and prevent you from succeeding at your job. Saboteurs view their peers as competitors that they desperately need to defeat, even at the cost of collaboration and team success.   

The Constant Critic – This person, typically in a management position, talks down to direct reports and picks apart others’ work with little recognition of successes or growth.  

The Gossip – Every office has a workplace gossip, but the hard fact is that gossiping was a frequently cited form of bullying. It can really take a toll on your job performance as well as tarnish your reputation to be on the receiving end of hurtful gossip, so don’t take this form of bullying lightly.   

The Mean-Spirited Prankster – Like the class clown in high school, this person loves to play jokes on coworkers. While it seems like many office gags are innocent, or even a form of valuable bonding and relationship building, there’s a hard line between playing a harmless prank and intentionally humiliating someone.  

The Jerk – Some people are indeed mean by nature. This type of bully brings a toxic attitude to the office environment by delivering angry or condescending remarks to their coworkers with little or no provocation. This is one of the most common forms of workplace bullying, taking shape from the use of aggressive tone, language, or emails.  

The Gatekeeper – A Gatekeeper bully is one who takes a more indirect approach. They actively withhold resources that you need to succeed, such as a boss who doesn’t provide you with adequate time to complete a project or a coworker who doesn’t provide you with critical context in a new situation.   

What to Do If You’re Being Bullied   

While it would be nice if someone within the chain of command could sweep in and swiftly penalize bullies for their bad behavior, the fact is that bullying is tough to identify by those not being impacted by the behavior directly. In many cases, you will likely be left to cope with the bullying on your own. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have resources or support. There are things you can do to manage the situation better.   

The strategy you pick will likely depend on who is bullying you. If it is your peer, then it may be as simple as deflecting a person’s attacks. Remain nonchalant and unafraid the next time the person says something nasty. A simple comeback or ignoring the remark may be enough to tell the bully that you aren’t willing to waste your time with their nonsense. If the bullying continues or worsens, then start documenting evidence that you can present to your manager. Dates, times, and places where the bullying happens can help you build a case for action a manager can take at a later time.   

If your boss is the bully, you may need to take a more delicate approach. Power dynamics can have an essential part to play in how you cope with or overcome a bullying boss. Reach out to your coworkers to see if others are experiencing the same behavior. Chances are that you are not the only one on the receiving end of your manager’s poor behavior. Then together, you can build a case that highlights why your boss’s bullying is hurting the company’s bottom line. Remember that turnover is costly for every company, and losing employees due to poor management behavior is a serious concern for a company.   

If all else fails, to avoid working in a toxic environment, remember that there will always be another job and that staffing experts like us at All-Star Personnel can help you find the team that respects and values your contributions. Call us today to learn more.   

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