Unlike how it happened in the schoolyard as a kid, bullying as an adult does not involve throwing mulch and pulling hair. Sometimes, recognizing bullying in the workplace can be a bit difficult.

But once you see workplace bullying, how do you put a stop to it? You cannot simply run to a teacher and let them know. Having a bully at work can make both your personal and professional life miserable. The good news is that you do not have to suffer alone. Whether you are being pushed around or you notice the workplace bully, you can put an end to bullying in the workplace.

Noticing workplace bullying

Workplace bullying may not look like what you think it does. The simplest definition is negatively targeting one or more individuals. While physical workplace bullying is possible, it is more than likely verbal accusations.

Bullying is more than just a one-time occurrence. Rather, it builds up over time, creating an imbalance of power with the bully having an advantage over the other individual. It does not go so far as harassment, which makes an unsafe workplace. It simply makes the workplace particularly uncomfortable for a certain individual.

Types of workplace bullies

Generally, there are four types of workplace bullies. These include:

  • Aggressive bully: An aggressive bully is probably what you think of when you imagine a bully: outright rude. They may threaten or use intimidation to bully someone.
  • Gatekeeper: Preventing your coworkers from succeeding by withholding resources is actually a form of bullying. This type of bully is known as the gatekeeper.
  • Critical bully: A critical bully will have one person they single out to humiliate and be incredibly critical of. This is usually someone the bully perceives as a weak link.
  • Institutional bullying: This comes from the workplace itself. Having a job in which your manager or boss expects you to work overtime for free or encourages an unhealthy environment would be considered bullying.

Speak up and put it in writing
Once you recognize bullying, you should say something about it. While you may feel uncomfortable about the idea of confronting a bully, especially one you may work with daily, it is crucial to say something early.

You can also put a record of this behavior in writing. Whether it is in a personal record or an email to a trusted friend, this way there is a concrete paper trail of the occurrences.

Let someone higher up at work know

If confronting the bully directly does not work, it may be time to escalate the concern. Either let HR or your direct supervisor know. However, if your supervisor is the bully, it is alright to go to their supervisor. If you have written evidence of the bullying, you should bring that to the meeting as well. The person in a position of power is the one who will be able to take disciplinary actions if necessary.

Be sure to take care of yourself

Although it may not feel like it, your life is worth so much more than your job. Be sure you are still taking care of yourself outside of work. Try pampering yourself a little more often or showing yourself more love at home. Either way, make sure you are not neglecting your needs.

Regardless of whether or you are the individual being bullied or you happen to notice bullying behavior, you should reach out and tell someone. The psychological effects of bullying can be scarring, and the sooner you work to repair this trauma, the better. I suggest reaching out to a mental health professional to work through this pain. Reach out to my office today to schedule an appointment.