How to Handle a Workplace Bully

They constantly interrupt. They strong-arm people. They love demeaning others and ruffling feathers.

And unfortunately, they work right next to you, every day.

While most playground bullies eventually move beyond their childish, offensive behaviors, some people never grow up. If you’re forced to deal with a bully at work, here’s how to stop them in their tracks (and stop them from undermining your success on the job):

Identify the specific action that bothers you.
Does this person constantly criticize or even raise their voice at you? Shirk responsibility? Take credit for your work? Determine what is it about their behavior that makes you uncomfortable. Once you understand that, you can do a much better job of controlling your reaction to it, and then choosing the best course of action.

Stay calm.
Bullies thrive on intimidating and upsetting others, so don’t give them what they want. When they antagonize you, remain calm:

  • Address the bully by name.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Keep your voice even, low and peaceful.

Let them “spin themselves out.”
Eventually, even the most devastating tornado loses its power. The same is true of a workplace bully. To defuse them, first let them vent (i.e., explain their issue without interrupting). Once they’ve had their say, reply with, “I’ve listened to your side of the story; now it is my turn to speak.” If they interrupt, don’t skip a beat. Remain calm and keep talking. Typically, as soon as they realize they can’t run you over, they will change their tune.

Be direct.
Name what bothers you. Describe how their behavior impacts your work. Explain that you will not put up with it moving forward.

Document everything.
Save offensive emails or voicemails. Keep a document listing the date, time and details of any incident with the bully. This way, if you eventually seek outside help, you’ll have evidence to support your claims.

Draw the line.
A bully is typically opportunistic and will push boundaries as far as they can. Don’t feel obligated to tolerate their pushiness. If they cross a line and become verbally abusive or otherwise inappropriate, go through the appropriate channels to file a complaint.

Need to get away from a workplace bully?
Simply looking for a better employment opportunity? Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities. We’ll help ensure that you don’t just search, but succeed.