“The fact is, we still have bullies, and we still have victims who are trained not to stand up for themselves.”  

~ Joe Wurzelbacher

In a previous working environment, I was asked my opinion.  Specifically, how would I handle a particular situation of pervasive workplace bullying?

While crafting my response, several other colleagues indicated they too had experienced workplace difficulties with bullies and expressed a desire for the environment to change.  During the ensuing discussion, it was discovered that:

  • We each had differing definitions and perceptions to describe “workplace bullying”
  • Several colleagues felt powerless to intervene when bullying occurs in the workplace for fear of retribution from both the bully and management
  • Some workers had a perception that bullying is part of the organization’s culture. Several co-workers stated that immediate management took little or no action when bullying occurred in departmental meetings.

BPost - Thursday Tip 07-16-15 Bullying


The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) defines examples of workplace bullying as “any negative behavior that demonstrates a lack of regard for other workers. This can include a vast number of disrespectful behaviors including:

  • Harassment
  • Incivility
  • Teasing
  • Gossiping
  • Purposely withholding business information
  • Overruling decisions without a rationale
  • Sabotaging team efforts
  • Demeaning others
  • Verbal intimidation

Ultimately, the discussion circled back to the “how” question.  Specifically, how should the perceived workplace bully be handled? How should a colleague respond when being bullied and still maintain their employment?

In fact, in recent years, bullying has become an issue throughout the workplace.

According to a recent survey, more than 30% of workers indicated they have experienced bullying.  In Utah, a bill recently passed requires state employees to complete training regarding abusive contact in the workplace.  In California, anti-workplace bullying training content must be included in state-mandated supervisor training.  Several resources exist to provide training to adult workers on how to handle bullying in the workplace, including:

Other resources include the HR department and/or the Learning and Development department within the organization.  Ultimately, during our specific team conversation concluded without a firm plan of action, but an agreement that each person was now aware that an action existed, and a commitment to be more respectful during individual interactions in the future.

Possibly, this small step of team collaboration and behavior expectations will cause a positive chain reaction within the workplace environment.



Difficult Conversations with Your Coworkers

Practicing behaviors that lead to greater team work and improved communication in the workplace.

This article updated 2/7/2020