How to Deal With Harassment & Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying leads to a stressful workplace.

Bullying leads to a stressful workplace.

You may love your job, but when your coworkers start bullying or harassing you, you're ready to empty your desk and call it quits. Bullies can be demanding, belittling or just plain rude, but that doesn't mean you need to put up with them or find a new job. You can put bullies in their place simply by being assertive and taking a stand. Show bullies that you won't put up with their harassment, and they're likely to back off and let you work in peace.

Ignore the bully's behavior if she only bothers you occasionally and her actions aren't too upsetting to you. Some bullies will get bored by your unresponsiveness and look for easier prey.

Tell the bully to stop harassing you. Make sure she knows that her behavior bothers you. For example, you might say "What you just said embarrassed me; please don't do it again." Although you may think it would feel good to scream at the bully and tell her off, it's best to stay as professional as possible.

Ask for the names and testimonies of people who witnessed the harassment. If you must report the bully to a supervisor, ask if they'll share what they saw to support your claims.

Avoid responding to harassing e-mails or text messages. If you decide to reply, tell the sender that you're not interested in receiving further messages from her. Save a copy of the messages in case you need them to file a report against the bully.

Talk to your boss about the bully if her behavior continues. Ask if your boss will transfer you or the bully to a different department. Suggest that your boss create a zero-tolerance anti-bullying policy and make that policy known to everyone in the company.

Make a formal complaint to the human resources department or your boss's superior if she fails to address your concerns. Put your complaint in writing so it's more difficult to cover up, and keep a copy at home for your own records.

Contact an attorney if the harassment continues and your managers refuse to help. You'll have a more successful case if you've kept evidence, such as voice mails, e-mails or written notes, of the bully's harassment. Note that bullying isn't illegal, so an attorney can't help you with that. Harassing behavior that is illegal includes things like threats of physical violence, unwanted sexual advances or gender discrimination.

Tips

  • Talking to a friend or writing about your feelings in a journal may help you weather the bully's actions.
  • Try to make at least one friend at work. Bullies are less likely to attack people in groups.
 

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

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