How to spot and deal with office bullies


Unfortunately, bullies don’t stop in high school, we find the in the workplace too. They’re extremely toxic individuals and can make your time at work unbearable.

Chemory Gunko, founder of shares points on how you can spot and handle office bullies.

How to spot them

Bullies are easy to spot; you can spot them through their obvious outbursts, threatening behaviour, frequent harassment and ridiculing of others. Here are other characteristics you can look out for:

  • They will use recurring angry outbursts as a weapon.
  • If the bully feels someone needs to be taught a lesson, they will embarrass the person in front of others.
  • They intentionally harass others and are always looking for a scapegoat and someone to blame.
  • They are verbally abusive and will publicly ridicule or humiliate the object of their bullying.
  • They may dominate meetings by arguing, criticising, using sarcasm and spewing insults.
  • They are emotionally volatile to the point of physical aggression against lifeless objects, such as slamming down the phone, throwing an object across the room or pounding on a table.
  • They will roll their eyes and cough to undermine what other people are saying.
  • They will socially exclude the person they are bullying.
  • Claims the ridicule was nothing but good-natured teasing. He/she would say things like: “I was just kidding.” “Why are you so sensitive?” “You need to lighten up” or “You need to learn to take a joke.”
  • They will sabotage and prevent work from getting done or withhold resources from others.
  • They will leave the object of their bullying out of important meetings or fail to share information.
  • They steal others’ work or ride on the success of others’ work to get ahead.
  • They build alliances in the company and undermine anyone who won’t support him/her.

Handling the bully

Gunko says if you believe your health and career are being damaged and you want to take this to your manager or HR person, you will need as much proof as possible.

You may want to approach another co-worker to give “evidence” of the bullying – this will support your report. While others might be reluctant to get involved, the truth is that the bully is disliked, so others will rally by your side. If this is not the case, next time you are the object of their rant, turn on your recorder on your mobile phone. If you are being repeatedly bullied you will have many chances to do this. Gather as much proof as necessary to be taken seriously because the bully will not take kindly to you standing up for yourself.

If you feel isolated in the work environment where bullying occurs, it is more challenging to survive without a good support system. If you enjoy what you do as well as the engagements with others it may be worth your while to guard yourself against these assaults and ignore the person. Should this be a direct superior though, you may want to reconsider your options. There are times to fight and there are times when it is soul-destroying to remain in the environment, especially if you have little chance of getting to a win-win situation.

By Amanda Ndlangisa

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Sihle Bolani

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