Why Do People Bully Me in the Workplace?

Bullying can make the workplace a miserable environment.
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No matter how much you love your job, a bully can make coming to work every day a nightmare. Bullies pack a devastating arsenal of insults and tactics designed to help them get their way while making you feel terrible. No matter the situation, if you're being bullied, it isn't your fault. Bullies have several reasons for their childish behavior. Understanding why your bully is attacking you may help you figure out a way to put a stop to the behavior.


    Many bullies choose their victims simply because they are jealous of them and their accomplishments at work. For example, maybe you were awarded that promotion that the bully thought she deserved more than you. Or maybe your boss praised you for a job well done on your latest project, but said nothing to your coworker. If you always seem to be getting rewards and preferential treatment, your bully may be lashing out simply because she's jealous. If this is the case, it might be helpful to sit down with the bully and talk about her feelings. Don't accuse her of being jealous of you. Instead, try asking if something's bothering her. Once she stops feeling so jealous, the bullying is likely to cease.

Strong Values

    Bullies love to pick on people with morals and values stronger than their own. For example, a bully might ask you to stay silent if you catch him doing something wrong, such as stealing from a coworker or taking credit for work he didn't do. If you refuse and point out your colleague's deception, he may respond by taunting you and calling you names. You're proud of your ethics and moral beliefs, but your coworker can use them to mock and harass you. If you ever need to report the bully or another worker for something he has done wrong, try to do so anonymously or ask your boss not to identify you as the person who reported the issue. In times when you can't hide your values, tell the bully firmly that you respect his beliefs, and you'd appreciate it if he respected yours.

Low Self-Esteem

    People with low self-esteem are often a popular target for bullies. Such people are usually shy, quiet and tend not to socialize much. If you have these traits, a bully may perceive them as weaknesses and use them as an excuse to attack you. A bully might do this to make herself feel strong and competent despite her own inadequacies. Even if you feel like an introvert, try making a friend at work or having brief conversations with your colleagues. The bully will be less likely to pick on you if you're surrounded by people. If you think you've got low self-esteem, boost it by thinking about your positive traits and your best accomplishments. Write them down and read the list whenever you're feeling blue.

Independent Thinking

    Bullies often hate people who don't go with the established flow or conform to their expectations. For example, if you refuse to socialize with a group of gossipy coworkers, a bully may harass you about it and try to make you give in. This can be a difficult situation because groups of people tend to defer to the bully to avoid his wrath. A bully might pick on you because he wishes he was an independent thinker with his own ideas. The bully might secretly believe that you're superior to him. Demanding respect from the bully might put him in his place and cause him to back off.

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