3 Common Workplace Bullies and How to Handle Them

Bully imageYou probably thought that bullies were only a problem at high school. That once you entered the adult world of work and career you’d have left all those unpleasant kids behind.

Sadly, that’s not the case. I fact, grown up bullies are just as prevalent – but maybe a bit more subtle.

Just like the high school bullies, adult bullies manipulate those around them using public humiliation, underhanded insults, and intimidation .

However, now you don’t have to put up with this kind of behavior from others just to look like you’re tough.

By identifying malicious and bullying behavior and dealing with it professionally will demonstrate to management and colleagues that you’re the mature guy you wish you’d been as a teenager.

Better still, it will deter the bullies from targeting you, and hopefully others too.

To make it simpler for you I’m categorising the three main types of bullying seen in the modern office workplace.

1. Facebook Bully

Did you know Facebook can be weaponized?

This is where someone posts passive-aggressive status updates mentioning “certain colleagues and co-workers” without naming names.

Of course, everyone knows who the target is. These remarks are clearly directed at specific colleagues, thinly veiled attacks that make most people squirm at reading.

But because they’re surreptitious it’s very difficult to do anything about. And if you do it tends to escalate into an even worse situation.

There is a solution: this is where the old maxim of “just ignore it” works well. You need to rise above the nastiness knowing that everyone else is silently judging the perpetrator.

That usually turns into the bully being maneuvred out of the business if he doesn’t stop doing it fairly quickly.

So you don’t have to put up with it for long.

2. Email Bully

This kind of bully transforms a professional communication system into a public squabble.

There you are,  sharing your opinion on a project professionally. Then the next thing you know, the bully has cc’d half your office, and bcc’d the rest.

Unlike the open, friendly one to one meeting you had recently, in the email broadcast you’re being castigated and chastised in full view of your colleagues.

Not nice.

There is a solution:  first, don’t respond or reply by email. You need to take a little time to cool down so that you can handle this one more rationally.

After an hour or two walk over to the bully’s desk. Most bullies are much less likely to be confrontational when you approach them face-to-face.

Explain that you’re not sure how what he meant in his message, and ask if you could go to a conference room and chat. You’ll be surprised  just how quickly his attitude changes to being more reasonable.

3. Old Fashioned Mean Guy

Some people never learn, and these kind of bullies are no exception.

They use overt threats, they shout and bawl, and they turn discussions into personal character assassinations.

What’s more, they bring in whatever ammunition they can, your personal life, they use foul language, gossip about you with co-workers and send you nasty emails.

Unlike the previous two bullies these ones can’t be reasonable.

There is a solution: go to your manager, or his/her boss, or HR.

These bullies just aren’t tolerated in modern organizations and need to be handled by professionals.

If you’re having to deal with this kind of bully save your time and energy by handing the problem to those who are paid to handle it.

It may not feel good to do this, but we’re all adults now and have to take responsibility for own behavior – and that includes that bully.

Whatever you do, choose to deal with it rather than going to the doctor for a sick note and hide.

In summary; always take the high ground, never get dragged down to the bullies’ level.

Two wrongs don’t make right, if you find yourself getting drawn in and react with equal force there’s a good chance you’ll end up in much more trouble.

You don’t want to get fired because of your inability to cope with someone else’s bad behavior.