How to Handle a Workplace Bully

How to Advance Your Career

Did you know October is National Bullying Prevention Month? Unfortunately, bullies aren't relegated to childhood, and they don't exist only in schoolyards. As it turns out, bullies also are common in workplaces, according to resume-writing company TopResume, which recently completed a workplace-bullying survey in which 71 percent of respondents said they have felt bullied by a boss or direct supervisor, and 25 percent by a peer or subordinate.

"Although bullying may be associated with childhood playgrounds, bullying is unfortunately a common part of many workplace cultures," said TopResume's career advice expert Amanda Augustine, who is also a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and certified professional resume writer (CPRW). "Working in a toxic work environment where bullying is part of the culture is a recipe for disaster -- for both one's well-being and career -- so professionals should address the situation as soon as possible while they search for a better opportunity in a healthier work environment."

Although there are many ways to deal with a workplace bully, perhaps the most effective is to address one's bully head-on.

"This won't always be possible or comfortable, but if it is, speak up and stand your ground when communicating with a bully," Augustine advises. "In a recent Time article, Fran Hauser, author of 'The Myth of the Nice Girl,' suggests using the following phrases when dealing with a work bully or someone who is not treating you appropriately: 'Please don't talk to me that way.' 'Let's try to get this conversation to a place where it can be productive.' 'Let's take a break and come back to this later.'"

If you can't stomach confrontation, by all means go over the bully's head. "If you are not comfortable speaking to the individual who is bullying you directly, then you might need to discuss it with your manager or human resources. Choose the course of action that feels best for you for your situation," continues Augustine, who says to take extra care when going up the chain of command. "When addressing your concern with others, don't play the blame game. Come up with a plan of how you are going to address the bullying concern and be sure to include its impact on productivity, well-being and morale coupled with some possible solutions."

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Contact Successful Meetings Editor in Chief Vincent Alonzo with your "How To" ideas.