Workplace bullying

How To Prevent Workplace Bullying? 3 Perspectives

Workplace bullying and harassment are unfortunate but real aspects of having a job. Unfortunately, a large majority of people have either undergone or witnessed bullying at some point in their lives. In workplaces, the general assumption goes that bullying can come only from superiors. However, you can be a subject of bullying from your juniors and equals. Bullying can take many forms as well. This blog will take you through the essential concepts related to bullying. It will help you understand how workplace bullying works and what actions you can take against it.

What Is Workplace Bullying?

In its most simple form, we can define workplace bullying as an attempt to overpower someone weaker. It is an attempt to abuse a person who is in a vulnerable position and, therefore, cannot fight back. Bullying at the workplace can take many forms – intimidation, threats, unhealthy jokes, etc. It generally hurts the employees, affecting them psychologically as well as physically. In some instances, the impact can be drastic enough to encourage employee turnover.

However, an important distinction exists between bullying and behavior that you do not like. Sometimes, criticism and feedback can appear like bullying, especially after you have given your best. But as a responsible employee, you should try to cultivate the ability to differentiate between the two and behave accordingly.

Types Of Workplace Bullying

Bullying can take many forms:

  • Mental harassment: Putting extra pressure on the individual and pushing them towards situations that induce stress or anxiety.
  • Verbal picking: Saying things that can hurt the person, being abusive or derogatory towards them, making them the object of jokes and mockery.
  • Intimidation: Issuing warnings, threatening harm, or adverse repercussions to stop some activity.
  • Exclusion: Excluding someone from groups and social situations by spreading rumors or negative gossip about them.
  • Disturbing work: Sabotaging efforts, evading privacy, and creating a detrimental impact on their performance at work.
  • Discrimination: Leaving someone out of the community on the grounds of caste, color, sex, gender orientation, national or ethnic identity, etc. This is the most common form of bullying faced silently by marginalized and protected communities.
These are just some common forms that are seen across workplaces. However, the list is by no means exhaustive. The example of bullying at work can come from our surroundings too. As such instances are not uncommon, we should keep a keen eye and take action if any instances of workplace bullying are observed.

What Are The Signs Of Workplace Bullying?

Before taking action, it is imperative to understand and identify the signs of bullying. Bullying can take many forms. Some common symptoms are:

  • Avoiding workplace and related conversations
  • Isolation
  • Making excuses for certain behaviors
  • Dodging some conversations, avoiding questions
  • Being ashamed
  • Distress
  • Getting undermined
  • Constant work reassignments, break in promotions
These are some common signs of workplace bullying and harassment. However, these are not the only signs. Other unlisted behaviors may be indicative of facing bullying as well.

How To Prevent Workplace Bullying: A Manager’s Perspective

A manager holds substantial power and authority that would enable them to mold the behaviors of the employees. Consequently, they should endeavor to create a hospitable environment for everyone. Additionally, it is a manager’s responsibility to look after the psychological well-being of their employees. While doing this, managers should take special care in protecting individuals belonging to historically marginalized communities. Avenues for reporting incidents form a crucial part of the anti-bullying mechanism in any organization. Further, some steps that managers can take to prevent bullying are as follows:

1. Conduct training and awareness programs

Organization-wide programs that focus on empowering individuals and making them aware of the repercussions of bullying should be conducted. These make it easy for others to identify where and when bullying happens and how to deal with it so it can be avoided. Additionally, employees can be educated about legal measures as well.

2. Anti-bullying policy

Create an anti-bullying policy and make the employees aware of it. Within the organization’s management and human resources structure, ample methods of reporting any untoward incident should be available for the welfare of the employees. Ensure the availability of a fair grievance redressal mechanism for the employees.

3. Develop a healthy culture

Managers should strive to create a healthy culture that celebrates differences within the organization so that such incidents do not arise. Establish mutual respect among all the employees irrespective of hierarchical positions. Define the culture of the organization to be strictly intolerant of bullying.

4. Take action

When incidents of bullying are reported, ensure that appropriate steps are taken. Measures taken to undo the damage should deter such behaviors in the future. Also, protection should be guaranteed to the employees present as witnesses.

Preventing Workplace Bullying: An Employee’s Perspective

On the other end, employees can take steps to prevent bullying in the workplace. Crucially, employees can be influential in forming a robust and collected front against bullies in the workplace. As a vigilant employee, you can be a vital help to bullying victims. Otherwise, you can help bullying victims by taking some other steps as well.

1. Be supportive

Firstly, be supportive of your co-workers. Be a patient listener if someone comes to you and tells you about their experience. Afterward, suggest ways to resolve their issues and guide them if needed. Sometimes, you might be asked to be present as a witness too.

2. Be by their side, literally

Ensure that the victim is not confronting the bully alone. When they meet someone expecting an incident of bullying, ensure they are accompanied by you or someone else. Collective support tends to bring down such incidents.

3. Encourage reporting

Persuade your co-worker to report the incident. Initially, they would be uncomfortable and afraid of coming to the open regarding the incident. Reassure them that it has nothing to do with them and that they do not deserve that behavior for any reason. Later on, help them seek counseling or support if needed.

4. Include them

Workplace bullying often takes the form of discriminatory exclusion from social settings. Therefore, if you are comfortable, try to intervene on their behalf. If you see negative rumor-mongering targeting them, try to dissuade it, or at least not participate. Similarly, you could try to support them during conversations or meetings.

What Can I Do If I Am Getting Bullied?

Firstly, understand that it is not your fault. Your actions are not the cause. The bully is behaving that way for their reasons. Further, keep note of these points if you face workplace bullying:

  • Don’t retaliate in reaction: Retaliating with the same effect will not solve the problem. Instead, it will escalate the issue into a bigger mess that can affect you even more. Avoid adopting the same harmful behaviors of your abusers. In case you do have to respond, do that calmly.
  • Avoid their company: Avoid confrontations with toxic people and your bullies. Simply reduce the opportunities that they get. Ask someone to accompany you if you have to interact with the bullies. This will help you retain confidence, and the bully will not be comfortable in the presence of others.
  • Collect evidence: When you are getting bullied, collect evidence of the same. Ensure that security mechanisms and storage systems are functioning effectively. This can be extremely helpful when you report the incident to your organization or the court of law.
  • Report the incident: after thinking through the whole incident with a calm mind and gathering all your evidence, approach the HR manager of your place. Otherwise, go through the mechanism established by your organization.
  • Seek counseling: Bullying at the workplace can take a toll on your mental health. The impact can be massive and detrimental. The psychological impact can easily cross workplace boundaries and affect your personal life as well. Therefore, this necessitates that you take care of yourself and seek support to help you tide through.


Workplace bullying remains a pertinent issue for organizations worldwide. If you or anyone you know is facing it, try to take steps to ease the problems. Throughout the journey, remember that it is not your fault but your bullies’ pettiness that causes the behavior. Stay strong and stay safe!

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