Over the next two weeks, we’ll be exploring the topic of bullying in our blog. This week focuses on bullying in the workplace.

October is Bullying Prevention Month and I’ve seen a lot of content around the web about how to talk with the children and adolescents in our lives about what bullying is, how to recognize and respond to it, and proactive measures to keep young people safe both physically and emotionally. But what about adults who bully?

According to a 2017 study, 19% of respondents reported being bullied at work. Verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or more insidious forms of bullying like deriding someone’s work or character to colleagues, withholding resources, are all part of this problem. In New York, bullying can contribute to a hostile work environment; workers who experience this level of misconduct can pursue legal recourse. But even the more subtle forms of bullying can contribute to lower self-esteem and feelings of depression, resulting in the target being less able to perform and more vulnerable to further derision.

If you feel like you are being mistreated by a bully at work, here are three strategies to consider:

  • If you can safely call out and label the behavior as bullying in the moment — speak up! If a colleague is crossing a line, it’s OK to stand up for yourself by labeling their behavior or comments as inappropriate.
  • If you can’t safely speak up in the moment, make sure that you document the bullying incident(s), including anyone who witnessed the behavior, for follow up. You may have options for recourse within your company’s HR policies or through legal avenues.
  • Be aware of, and responsive to, your own physical and emotional needs. Use your support systems at work and at home, or consider speaking with a therapist, to help you process the thoughts, feelings and reactions you’re having related to these challenges.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone is entitled to respect at work. If you are struggling with being bullied, there are resources available to help. Consider reaching out for a phone consultation today to see how therapy can help you resolve workplace challenges.


Read the 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute’s report here: https://www.workplacebullying.org/wbiresearch/wbi-2017-survey/