5 Steps for Handling a Bully at Work, for Coworkers and Teams

From elementary school to the workplace, unfortunately bullies exist. 

In the office, this type of behavior can be detrimental to any company culture.  

Bullying comes in many different forms.  It can include gossiping, excluding, undermining, intimidating, being two-faced, abusive actions, passive-aggressive or just plain aggressive behaviors. 


No matter what kind of bully, there is a better way to handle the situation should you come across one.


5 Steps for Dealing with a Bully:

#1 Get educated about your options.

There are many, many different resources available to employees and employers on how to identify and handle bullying situations in the workplace.  Knowledge is power and education on this topic will help you be prepared if/when situations occur. 

#2 Whatever you do, DON’T get emotional.

This can be a tough one especially when someone is being hurtful. 

Whatever you do, know that bullies are looking to get a reaction out of you.  Giving them that reaction only feeds into their behaviors.  Removing your emotion from the situation will help you calmly and clearly defuse difficult situations.

#3 Keep a log of everything.

If you feel you are falling victim to malicious behaviors, document every incident. 

A best practice for keeping a journal or log is to email yourself so each entry is date and time stamped.  When it becomes appropriate to escalate your concerns, you will have everything prepared and well-formed for HR to evaluate.

#4 Focus on doing your best work.

No matter how a bully tries to work your nerves, make sure you stay focused on doing the best you can at your job.  The last thing you want is any of their accusations to gain validity because your work ethic is suffering. 

#5 Know when to ask for help.

Its generally best to first go to someone outside the office, meaning not someone who is co-worker or manager.  Use some caution when approaching HR.  Remember they are always more company-focused and they are also not your personal counselors.  When you do decide to move forward with bringing your concerns to HR, be constructive.  Ask them if they have a specific plan for handling these types of situations. 


Dealing with bullies is always a difficult situation and can be extremely uncomfortable. 


However, if you look at the situation as a learning opportunity, you can grow from it.  Managers and higher-ups will likely take note of how you handled the situation too.  When handled correctly, you can find a sort of power for positive change stemming from a negative situation.