Bullies in the workplace? You bet

  • Blog Post by: Dee DePass
  • April 19, 2012 - 11:08 AM

Cowering from bullies in the workplace?

Know two things. You're not alone and there are tips to stop the abusive behavior.

Susan Heathfield , human resources author for, reports there is no shortage of bosses who yell at their workers; pick, pick, pick at that one mistake, or constantly undermine or talk over their underlings. She estimates that 54 million Americans admit to being bullied on the job at least once during their careers.

She notes a study conducted by Zogby and the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute that found that about 37 percent of Americans have been bullied on the job, usually by a boss.  According to the study:

  • Bosses made up 72 percent of bullies
  • 60 percent of bullies are men, but 71 percent of those who bully women are women
  • 45 percent of those bullied experienced anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other stress-related health problems
  • Only 3 to 4  percent of victims sue or complain to state authorities

So, what's a worker to do? Heathfield has a few tips:

  • Set limits on what you will tolerate.
  • Describe the behavior of the bully to the bully. Don't editorialize. "You are screaming and swearing at me" 
  • Tell the bully exactly how their behavior impacts your work and hurts the company
  • Tell the person you will not put up with the specific behavior in the future
  • Leave the room. End the phone call. End the meeting. Reschedule the next meeting sans bully

 If nothing changes, seek help:

  • Report the bully to management and human resources.
  • But first document the time,  date, location and witnesses of the behavior.
  • Keep copies of abusive e-mails
  • Ask co-workers to keep a log of the behavior
  • Recognize when it's simply time to change jobs

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