How To Deal With Workplace Bullying

An issue that no one wants to deal with at work is bullying. Unfortunately, bullying still happens. If you, or someone you know, is having to deal with a bully in the workplace, here’s my advice on how to handle it:


When a colleague or boss’s behaviour has crossed the line between being a little bit snappy to bullying, it is important to act quickly and do something about it. However, we can start double-guessing ourselves: is it really bullying? Signs to look for:

  • Being undermined or unduly criticised – whether it’s the quality of your work or more general criticisms of your actions or behaviour, they are making you feel as though you are being picked on or pulled down unfairly.
  • Badmouthing you to other people – if you are getting a sense that they are talking about you behind your back in a way that is not appropriate
  • Excluding or ignoring you – if you are being left out of conversations or projects you might expect to be a part of and it’s making you feel isolated from a team or group
  • Intimidation or coercion – pressuring you into doing something, either directly or by making you feel guilty or scared if you don’t do what they are asking
  • Not allowing you to take credit for your work – if they take credit, give credit to someone else, or minimise others’ perceptions of your involvement in a project 


If you feel you’re being bullied, and you’ve got evidence, as above, then rather than approaching the bully, it’s better to go to HR. But before you do, I strongly recommend organising your facts and information so you are ready with good answers, because HR will almost certainly ask you:

  • How long has this been going on?
  • What form is it taking?
  • Do you have any other specific information or evidence? (This is not to catch you out, but the more you have, the more cut-and-dried it will be so think about specifics that you can share)
  • How is it making you feel?
  • Do you think anyone else has noticed? (Again, this is about whether there are helpful witnesses rather than a cover-up!)
  • What would you like to see happen?


Then book in to see HR, letting them know in advance that it is urgent. Hopefully, they’ll take swift action to resolve this but if it’s just you and this is the bully’s first reported misdemeanour (and the company is already under pressure) it’s unlikely to result in their dismissal. Now that you’ve been treated this way by them, perhaps you won’t want to work with the bully again? In this case, maybe you should simultaneously be looking around for another role. 

3 resources on how to stamp out workplace bullying:

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