How To Deal With Bullying In The Office

Bullying in the office isn’t just playground antics transported into the adult world; it’s a serious issue that can severely disrupt a professional environment and cause psychological harm to its victims. Dealing with workplace bullying is critical not just for individual well-being, but also for the overall health and productivity of an organization.

1. Recognise the Signs

Before addressing bullying, it’s essential to recognize it. Bullying can be:

  • Verbal: Derogatory remarks, insults, or unfounded criticisms.
  • Relational: Exclusion from group activities, spreading rumours, or undermining someone.
  • Physical: Any form of physical intimidation or assault.
  • Cyberbullying: Using digital platforms to harass or demean someone.

2. Document Everything

One of the first steps in confronting office bullying is to document incidents meticulously. Maintain a record of dates, times, places, individuals involved, and the nature of each incident. This documentation can be crucial when discussing the issue with supervisors or HR.

3. Maintain Professionalism

Responding aggressively or defensively can escalate the situation. While it’s natural to want to defend yourself, maintaining a calm and professional demeanour is crucial. This not only shields you from additional harm but also ensures that any subsequent investigation is more straightforward and free of complexities.

4. Address the Bully

While it may seem daunting, sometimes the most direct approach can be effective. Consider discussing your concerns with the bully in private. They may not be aware of the impact of their actions, or they might be going through personal issues. Use “I” statements to express how you feel, for example, “I felt hurt when you said X during the meeting.”

5. Seek Support

You don’t have to deal with bullying on your own. Talk to colleagues you trust. They might have witnessed the bullying or have been through it themselves. Their support can be invaluable, both emotionally and when seeking a resolution.

6. Escalate the Issue

If direct communication doesn’t resolve the issue or if the bullying continues, it’s time to escalate. Speak with your supervisor or manager. If they’re the bully, go one level up or approach HR. Provide them with your documentation to back up your claims.

7. Familiarise Yourself with Company Policies

Every organization should have a policy in place for dealing with bullying or harassment. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines. It will give you a clearer understanding of your rights and the procedures for addressing such issues.

8. Consider Mediation

Mediation can be an effective way to address and resolve workplace bullying. This involves a neutral third party helping the individuals involved communicate their issues and work towards a resolution. Many companies offer mediation services, or you can seek external professional mediators.

9. Seek External Support

Professional organisations, helplines, or even legal counsel can provide guidance and support. In the UK, for instance, ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) offers advice on workplace issues, including bullying.

10. Take Care of Your Mental Health

Bullying can have a significant impact on mental well-being. Seek support from a counselor or therapist who can provide coping mechanisms. Prioritise self-care and activities that help reduce stress.

11. Evaluate Your Position

If all avenues have been explored and the bullying persists, it might be time to consider if staying with the company is worth the emotional toll. While no one should feel forced out of their job due to bullying, your well-being is paramount. Sometimes, a fresh start in a healthier environment can be the best solution.

12. Be a Force for Change

If you’ve faced bullying, consider advocating for a more robust anti-bullying culture in your office. This could involve:

  • Organizing training sessions on respect and communication.
  • Forming a support group for those who’ve experienced bullying.
  • Engaging in team-building exercises to foster a more cohesive and understanding workplace.


Workplace bullying is a grave issue that requires proactive measures. By recognising the signs, documenting incidents, seeking support, and following company procedures, victims can effectively address and overcome the challenges posed by bullies. Furthermore, by fostering a culture of respect and understanding, companies can ensure a safe and productive environment for all their employees.

Remember, no one deserves to be bullied. By standing up against bullying, not only do you help yourself, but you also pave the way for a more inclusive and harmonious workplace for all.