“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.

W o r k s h o p G u i d e

Fierce and Focused: 55 Workplace Civility Quotations to Support Your Working Life

Workplace civility can be an effective tool in the global workplace. Enclosed you will find encouragement curated according to ten common categories, including workplace bullying, leadership, communication, workplace skills, and excellence. Read more here

Michel Hobson is one of the most sought-after workplace training leaders in the region. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans multiple countries and hundreds of companies. | HobsonTraining.com

#DifficultConversations | #Enough | Code of Conduct | Diversity | Leadership | Training | Work Environment

This article updated 2/7/2020