How to shut down a bully at work: Let’s take the bull by the horns

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While most people think of bullies as kids, bullying doesn’t end with the high school. Kids who bully in schools often grow up as office bullies.

There’s a new breed of bullies cropping up in the workplace every day. While statistics vary, studies reveal that nearly half of all American workers have been affected by office bullying, either as a target or a witness.

From verbal abuse to offensive conduct, unnecessary work interference to sabotaging work; workplace bullying can take many forms. Persistent and prolonged bullying can hinder not only your performance at the workplace but can adversely affect your health as well.

So, to put a full stop to bullying, here are some points that can help you knock-out the bully at work.

1. Don’t blame yourself

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Bullies who attack you with verbal insults or physical intimidation tries to beat you at mind games. Acknowledge it’s not about you; it’s about the bully. Don’t lose your confidence or think you are incapable or incompetent in any way.

If you’re being bullied, never blame yourself for anything — however appeasing it may seem. Blaming yourself will only bring down your morale which will make it easier for the bully to victimize you the next time.

Rather than thinking low of yourself, stay calm and rational. Think how you can get out of the situation stronger and better.

2. Stand up for yourself because no one else will

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The first thing to shut down a bully at work is to accept the fact that you’re being bullied — in whatever form. Take a stand against it because no one else is going to do it for you. I know it’s easier said than done but the first step is often the hardest one to make.

The next time the bully treats you like a doormat or vilifies you. Look straight into his eyes and say, “From now on, I won’t allow you to treat me this way. Back off! ”

Your new strong avatar will make the bully run backward and mind his own business.

3. Kill them success

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There is nothing more disappointing for a bully to see his actions fail to cause any harm to you. Do your best work. Don’t give them any reason to pass unpleasant or sarcastic comments about your work.

The bully’s work will seem more justified if you aren’t doing your best work, or if you do things like coming late to work, take long lunch breaks etc. So the only thing that can shut their mouths is when you pick yourself up, make the most of the technology and the available resources and let your success do all the talking!

4. Build a strong support system

Having a strong support system helps! Employees who are being bullied often keep such instances to themselves. This is where you can handle the situation in a different way.

Instead of keeping things to yourself, start building an alliance — not against him but to support yourself. Having a support system by your side will help you tackle the situation better and will also help you win support of others in the organization.

5. Escalate / seek support

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If directly confronting your bully has little or no effect, you might need to escalate the matter to your boss. And if your boss is the bully, you definitely should escalate the matter to HR.

Make sure you’re accusations are strong enough, back them with concrete public instances, evidence, allies, and witnesses. This will support you and your case against the bully.

Before concluding, Let me share a true story with you all. Once a supervisor at a large legal advertising firm, put his hands and shoved of an employee out of his office. In front of the entire office, she called the police and said, “I’d like to report an assault”. The CEO arrived in two minutes and had a meeting with both of them. “What are you doing to my company”, he said angrily to her. “It’s about me not your company”, she said matching to his tone. She was surprised when she was asked what it would take to cancel the call to the cops. She demanded to fire the bully and he was fired immediately.

If your efforts aren’t bearing any fruit, then don’t mind putting up a resign stating your reason clearly. If you’re working for an organization that tolerates or encourages bullies, it’s not the right place for you. Never accept anything that does not resonate with your values and principles.

Whenever things go out of the way, think and act rationally. Don’t be afraid to take the bull by its horns and try to emerge as a victor, not a victim.

Originally published at


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Vartika Kashyap runs the marketing team at ProofHub — a project management software for teams of all sizes. She is a seasoned marketing professional who is an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s been featured among LinkedIn’s Top Voices for the year 2016 & 2017. Connect with Vartika on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.

Also follow our company page @ProofHub to get the recent updates about our tool, published articles, motivational quotes & presentations.


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