Bullies can come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their targets. Bullies prey on the vulnerable, the weak, the insecure, as these people are often the easiest to enervate. Bullies grow bolder with power, and attack those who are non-confrontational, new to the workplace, or moral, because often this crowd of people is not likely to retaliate. But bullies also seek out other types of quarries. Those who pose a threat to the bully, i.e. competitors and veterans, are often victims of bullying, because the bully wants to annihilate any threat to their advancement trajectory. Additionally, women and racial minorities are not exempt from the bullies’ victim group either.

But how can workplaces and workers combat bullying? One idea is conflict resolution.

  • It’s imperative to identify the problem: how is the bully being enabled?
  • Once this is established, the next step is to talk, calmly to the bully.
    • Ask the bully:
      • What do they want?
      • Why do they want that? (i.e. what are the pros of having “that”)
      • What sort of timeline do they want “that” in?

Once the answers to these questions are in place, it then becomes conceivable to concoct a plan and realize what the next, healthy, steps are to obtain the goal. The bully’s goal should never be at the expense of other workers.

However, sometimes identifying the bully’s problem and creating a plan of action isn’t so easy. If the bully truly is a menace, and you’re not in an authoritative position to deal with the problem, here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Tell the bully to stop. This of course, is easier said than done. Using words like, “please stop”, and calm tones can sometimes pacify the situation. Additionally, it can often be more powerful when you tell the bully to stop harassing someone else.
  • Documents and witnesses. Keep track of all the times you’re bullied, and make sure you have witnesses who can also testify. The more proof you have, the stronger your case will be.
  • Meet with HR. This is part of HR’s job! Set up an appointment with human resources to discuss the issue at hand. Again, sometimes when action comes from a third party, a resolution is more feasible.