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Standing up to bullies at work

Photo shows an unpleasant  office working environmentWhen you hear the word bully, it is hard not to instantly think of school and the difficult times you or someone you know might have had when they were bullied by somebody there. What is sometimes forgotten is that bullying also takes place in adult life, and in the workplace, it can manifest easily in the form of a tormenting boss or colleague or simply the same school mentality of a stronger person picking on someone they perceive to be weaker.

How do you stand up to bullies at work though? We have all heard stories of people who have stood up to bullies by confronting them head on, but in the workplace, that can quickly escalate and become an issue for the entire workforce. It is easy to allow it to continue and bury the issue, but it will only manifest itself in other ways – including depression, illness – and your work performance will suffer as a result.


If you have decided that enough is enough, you need to have a plan of action in place. Simply wading in and confronting your bully in public could be a disaster, especially if the colleague in question is well established and liked and it only seems to be you that they have an issue with. It could cause you to be pushed to the outside and result in you becoming excluded from the team.

The best course of preparation is mental preparation. Confrontation doesn’t sit well with everybody, and if you are not prepared, it could be you who comes off second best. You should have everything you need to say planned out and be calm and poised to have your say in a respectful manner, without becoming emotional or aggressive.

Consider the Consequences

In order to be better prepared, it is important that you consider the consequences of your actions. Are prepared to lose your job? To walk out? To be able to say “This stops now or I walk” and mean it? You want to be able to show strength and courage under fire, but have the conviction to follow through with your actions.

Being prepared to fight your corner and stand by your demands for the bullying to stop are essential if you are to stand any chance of preventing this negative behaviour from continuing. You also have to consider that your place and reputation in the company might never be the same after you have stood up to your bully, especially if the bully takes it upon themselves to try and ruin your reputation as a result of your confrontation.

Remember: You are not alone

It is important that every employee knows that they are not alone when it comes to bullying. There are people you can talk to – both inside and outside of your employment – and you will want to see them out and get advice to deal with both the torment of bullying and how to deal with it. Employees and managers alike can be trained to avoid bullying and harassment in the workplace. If it is your boss that is bullying you, talk to your colleagues before confronting the boss directly. Knowing you have their support will help you to get the confidence you need to stand up against their bullying tactics.

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