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How to Handle and Identify Workplace Bullying

Read on to find out more about how to handle and identify workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying has increased over the years as the workforce increases in the U.S.

Whether you are a remote worker or in a physical office, workplace bullying may occur in the form of verbal interactions, email, teleconferences, or other methods. Unfortunately, most workplace bullies get their way while the victims may not receive support from their peers.

Read on to find out more about how to handle and identify workplace bullying.

Workplace Bullying Studies

Workplace bullying has become so prevalent that a Workplace Bullying Institute provides resources for those who may feel hopeless in their environment. The institute has also conducted several surveys and studies over the years.

First, the institute defines workplace bullying as repeated mistreatment, constant abusive conduct, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, or work sabotage.   

The Workplace Bullying Institute found in their studies the following:

  • Between 2017 and 2021, there has been an 11% increase in workplace bullying, with 30% of workers bullied
  • About 48.6 million Americans have been bullied at work
  • Those who are targeted for bullying are 67% more likely to lose their job
  • 40% of those bullied are managers
  • Higher rates of bullying occur with remote workers
  • About 90% of the public believe new laws must address workplace bullying
  • Workplace bullies are 67% males and 33% females
  • Amongst male bullies, 58% are male targets, and 42% are female targets
  • Amongst female bullies, 65% are female targets, while 35% are male targets.

How to Identify and Handle Workplace Bullying

There are common signs to identify and handle workplace bullying. On the other hand, there are subtle signs that may not be as noticeable.

Continue reading on how to spot workplace bullying and how to handle it.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is one of the most apparent signs of workplace bullying, including jokes, gossip, or mockery.

If the bully raises their voice and constantly berates the co-worker, it is a red flag.

Verbal abuse can also occur in emails between persons with threatening language or constant, unwarranted criticism that becomes personal.

The best way to handle verbal abuse is professional confrontation by letting the other employee know the verbal abuse is not warranted. There is another way to express their grievances, and it is not the workplace. If the bully has issues with the employee’s work, urge cooperation and teamwork.

If the bully does not change their behavior, it is best to alert HR or someone with authority.

Work Sabotage

Suppose one employee sabotages another employee’s work, such as telling them wrong deadlines, deleting files, editing their documents without their consent with invalid information. In that case, it is bullying that can lead to someone losing their job. 

If you have a higher-up, such as a supervisor, manager, or owner, let the person know that a co-worker or yourself is being sabotaged. Most of the time, the problem resolves there. If not, contact HR.

Intimidation

Constant threats, forcing someone to isolate, or invading their privacy are forms of intimidation. 

It is best to confront bullies professionally about this behavior or alert your superiors. If that does not work, you need to contact HR. 

Institutional

Some workplaces have competitive environments where bullies are rewarded. This also results in a “toxic” work environment where you are forced to work overtime without any agreements or given unrealistic goals.

Confront the people who encourage these practices, which is typically a higher-up. Although, because it is institutional, there is no guarantee anything will change. At times, the best decision is to leave that job for another.  

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned how to handle and identify workplace bullying, the best step is to take action.

If you are witnessing someone being bullied, contact your HR department. If there is no HR department, speak with the higher-ups. The last resort is to confront the bullies by expressing your concerns in a professional manner.

Support the person being bullied. Make sure they know they are not alone. If it is affecting their mental health, consider calling a hotline or connect them to therapeutic resources.

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