How to deal with a bully in the workplace

How to deal with a bully in the workplace
Share with a friend:

Does a co-worker or even supervisor often talk over you, criticize you or take credit for your hard word? If you answered yes then you might be dealing with a bully, and you are probably trying to figure out how to deal with a bully in the workplace.

Bullying does not always stop at the end of childhood. Unfortunately abusive, harassing and intimidation behavior can follow you into adulthood and into the workplace. In fact, bullying in the workplace is actually exceptionally common. But what is the best method of dealing with a bully in the workplace? Below are 3 simple steps to follow.

This is how I recommend you deal with a bully in the workplace.

1) Address the issue and confront the bully.

Most people hate confrontations and will usually do anything to avoid them. I am sure that the thought of confronting your workplace bully is terrifying, especially if the person responsible is more senior in the company then yourself.

I always recommend starting here because there is the possibility that the offender does not realize that their behavior is affecting you negatively. If this is the case, then simply bringing it to their attention may be enough to get the bully to change their ways. Try to cover the following points when addressing the offending behavior;

  1. Describe the behavior that the bully is displaying.
  2. Tell the bully how their actions are impacting your work.
  3. Make it clear what behavior you will not put up with in the future.

During this discussion always keep an open mind. Remember it is possible that you are contributing to the difficult situation without knowing it.

2) Keep records of the bullying behavior.

If you have already tried to confront the bully with no success you are probably going to need to take further action. In this situation filling a complaint will probably be needed to deal with a bully in the workplace. Before you do this though to need to get your facts straight. This means documenting each incidence of the bullies’ behavior that you are having an issue with.

Keeping detailed records, that include dates and times, helps to create a timeline of events. These records also assist in showing a pattern of bullying rather than a few individual occurrences. It will also help you to recall information more easily when under pressure.

It would also be a great idea to keep a note of whether any other employees were witness to the behavior or particular events. There is a chance that after filing a complaint the situation is going to escalate, especially if you have tried to confront the bully previously with no success. It is going to be a fantastic advantage if you are able to call a witness to verify your side of the story.

A note on recording conversations.

In a previous post, we discussed the fact that you are able to record anyone that you have a conversation with, even without them knowing. You can read that article here if you are interested. If you are worried about the bully disputing your side of the story you should consider recording the bullies’ behavior. This is how to deal with a bully in the workplace! I would also advise you to record step 1 when you confront the bully. If step one is a success you can just delete the recording without telling anyone. However, if step 1 is unsuccessful, at least you have evidence that you have already tried to address the issue.

3) Tell a manager or HR about the bullying.

If you have tried to talk to the bully, maybe even more then once with no success. And you have documented the behavior in detail then you need to get help. It’s time to approach your manager or Human Resources Manager in your organisation. Each company is different, but you will know who the best person to speak to in your company is.

When discussing the behavior that is disturbing you, remember these two very important points;

  1. Focus on the pattern of behavior, not individual events.
  2. Make the conversation about how the behavior is affecting your work, not how it is affecting your feelings.

Once you have presented all your evidence and called witnesses if necessary the ball is in Managements court. Hopefully, you will start to see changes in the bullies’ behavior, this is how you will know that action has been taken. If nothing changes I recommend you start to make other arrangements to move away from the bully. Either ask for reassignment within your current organisation, or worst-case scenario, start looking for a new position.

A few additional points to remember regarding how to deal with a bully in the workplace.

Don’t take it personally

Try to remember that more likely than not the bullying is not about you, but more about the bully. It is probably originating from a feeling of insecurity and a desire to be in control. Do not let the behavior make you feel bad about yourself, stay strong, focused, and always keep your cool!

If nothing changes, Leave!

I mentioned this before but I really want to stress this point. A workplace bully can affect you emotionally and more importantly your well-being. This distress will affect your work performance and can even start to affect your home life. If you have done everything you can to eliminate the behavior with no success. MOVE ON!!! It’s the best thing that you can do for yourself.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read through this. I hope that it was just out of curiosity and not because you are currently dealing with an office bully. If you are or have in the past, please tell me about it in the comments below. I always respond to every comment I receive and maybe there is something specific about your situation that I can help you with.

Get all the best job search advice along with discussions surounding Labour law and work from home / Side hustle ideas.

* indicates required


The information contained on this website is simply aimed at providing readers with guidance on labour law in South Africa. This information has not been provided to meet the individual requirements of a specific individual. Bizcraft will always suggest that legal advice be obtained to address a person’s unique circumstances. It is important to remember that the law is constantly changing and although Bizcraft strives to keep the information up to date and of high quality, it cannot be guaranteed that the information will be updated and/or be without errors or omissions. As a result, Bizcraft will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable, for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.


  1. […] are exceptions to this rule, and if you are aware of any unethical behaviour, unsafe behaviour or bullying taking place you might want to consider reporting this to your […]

  2. […] READ  How to deal with a bully in the workplace […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top