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Workplace Bullying: What It Is and How to Deal With It

by | Mar 4, 2022 | Employee Behavioral Health, Tempo Live, Workplace Bully/Politics, Workplace Mental Health

It seems like everyone is talking about bullying these days. It’s a major problem for parents, teachers, and school administrators. But what about the workplace? 

For a long time, workplace bullying was dismissed as tough competition or “office politics.” However, recent research shows that it’s a real problem that takes a toll on both workplaces and individuals. Here is how to deal with it successfully.

Man raising his hand

What Is Workplace Bullying? 

  •  Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: 
  •  Verbal abuse 
  •  Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating 
  •  Work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done 

Bullying consists of three elements that distinguish it from other forms of conflict: 

Repetition; threats; and misuse of power. 

Remember that bullying can come from management or even subordinates, so it is not always from a co-worker. 

3 Ways to Deal With Workplace Bullying 

How can you handle bullying at work? Try these three ways: 

  1. Discuss the situation with management, going higher up or to human resources if needed. 
  1. Document instances of bullying, including witnesses and supporting information whenever possible. 
  1. Band together with colleagues who have witnessed or experienced the bullying for backup when reporting the behavior

What Is My Employer’s Role? 

Employers should have procedures for managing workplace bullying. Acceptable and unacceptable behavior should be determined and shared with employees. Employers should encourage sharing and reporting negative behaviors and take action by: 

  • Investigating 
  • Discussing the behaviors with employees 
  • Determining next steps with human resources 

Management or Human Resources may need to take disciplinary action with the bully or bullies. Having set standards helps provide a clear system of what’s okay and what happens when behaving improperly in the workplace. 

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