You'd like to think that by the time you get out of high school, bullying is a thing of the past. But, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35 percent of people have been bullied in the workplace and 58 percent of the targets are women. And while stomping on the bully's foot might have worked in grade school, it won't fly in the workplace. Instead, you can take other steps to ensure the bully receives the appropriate discipline.
Bullying in the workplace takes many forms, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. It defines bullying as abusive conduct in the workplace that occurs on a repeated basis, and notes that both employers and co-workers can commit bullying. One of the keys to identifying workplace bullying is how often it occurs. One off-color comment might be offensive, but your employer likely won't consider it bullying because it's not an ongoing issue.
As you parents might have told you after you were bullied in grade school, the best way to stop a bully is through standing up for yourself. The same approach holds true in the workplace, provided you do it in a calm, mature manner. Workplace therapist Brandon Smith recommends a multi-step approach when dealing with difficult co-workers. First, keep your distance as much as possible. If that doesn't work, document all the instances of bullying. Confront the bully in private, explain how the bullying affects you and ask that it stop.
Reporting the workplace bully is the next logical step if your confrontation wasn't effective. Provide your supervisor or the human resources department with a document that indicates all the instances of bullying to help support your case. Management will review your complaint and take the appropriate steps. In many cases, your bully will be your manager; human resource law firm Bernardi Human Resource Law reports that 81 percent of workplace bullies are managers. If your bully is your manager, speak to a human resources representative.
Termination for bullying in the workplace is definitely a possibility, but many businesses use a multi-stage approach to discipline based on the nature of the offense. HR Hero reports that discipline often occurs in four stages, beginning with a verbal warning, followed by a written warning. The third stage is one or more days off work without pay, and the final stage is termination. The HRVoice website states that despite the prevalence of bullying, many employers don't hand out significant punishment to bullies, as just 1.5 percent of workplace bullies are terminated.
- Workplace Bullying Institute: Results of the 2010 and 2007 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
- The Workplace Therapist: How to Confront Untrustworthy Co-Workers
- Bernardi Human Resource Law LLP: Bullying in the Workplace
- HR Hero: How to Discipline & Document Employee Behavior
- HRVoice.org: Workplace Bullying and the Role of Human Resource Management
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images