Work Place Bullying
The WBI Definition of Workplace
Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or
more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or
more of the following forms:
• Verbal abuse
• Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are
threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
• Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting
Is driven by perpetrators' need to control the targeted individual(s).
Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and
Requires consequences for the targeted individual
Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or
Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies' personal agendas
take precedence over work itself.
Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.
Work Place Bullying Groups:
1. Threats to personal standing: spreading rumors, yelling, name
calling and temper tantrums.
2. Threats to professional standing: toxic emails, denying access
to resources, assignments, projects or opportunities.
3. Control or manipulation tactics: failing to invite someone to an
essential meeting, threating job loss and excessive monitoring
Work Place Bullying
Feedback from groups:
• How did it feel?
• Did it lower your morale?
• Feel frustrated?
• How would the group deal with the situation?
• How would you from the group deal with the situation?
Dealing with threats to personal standing:
• Spreading rumors and hurtful gossip
• Yelling, name calling, mocking, insulting or ridiculing
• Unwanted physical contact or physical gestures that intimidate or
• Temper tantrums, mood swings and shouting
• Aggressive posturing
• Displaying offensive photos or objects
• Invalid or baseless criticism
• Obscene language
Dealing with threats to professional standing:
• Denying access to resources, assignments, projects or
• Stealing or taking credit for another’s work
• Interfering with someone’s work performance
• Failing to return phone calls or messages
• Little or no feedback on performance
• Withholding information essential to perform one’s job
• Toxic Emails
• Flaunting status
Control or manipulation tactics:
• Failing to invite someone to an essential meeting
• Threating job loss
• Excessive monitoring or micro-management
• Assigning tasks that cannot be completed by deadline; setting
• Interference or sabotage
• Ignoring a coworker with the intent to harm or control
• Refusal to take responsibility
• Harsh treatment
• Treating a worker differently than peers and coworkers
Spread Rumors (boss)
Go to the boss and discuss the issue.
If talking with the boss does not resolve the issue, then discuss
with your companies human resource department regarding your
A tyrant boss gets his way with employees through intimidation
and unjust acts. As an employee, you shouldn’t fear such a fiend.
The eyes of the law place bosses and employees on equal
footing. You must try to talk some sense into your boss first before
doing anything drastic.
How to Handle a Boss Who Yells
Don't take it personally. It's not about you. Good managers who know how to use authority
appropriately don't need to yell; problems don't get under their skin because they have effective
tools at their disposal (such as performance counseling and moving out employees who aren't the
right fit). Don't let their problems affect your sense of yourself.
If your boss regularly yells at you, it can be helpful to keep in mind that it's highly likely that that his
colleagues know he has a problem and have more sympathy for you than you might realize.
Consider addressing the problem head-on by talking to your boss about it. Yellers are people with
needy egos to protect, so give his ego the padding it needs before you launch into your request.
For instance, start off by saying that you really like the job and the work he gives you--and even that
you generally like working for him, if you can stomach that--and then say something like: "I really
have trouble hearing your feedback when you yell at me. I definitely want constructive criticism, but
it's hard for me to take it in when you're yelling." However, while this can actually have an impact
with some bosses and I've heard from people who have done it successfully, be prepared for it not
to change much; by definition, we're talking about someone who's a jerk.
Escalate it. Look around your workplace--is there a higher-up who seems open to people going
outside the chain of command in order to bring problems to her? Going over your boss's head is
always tricky, but if an employee came to me to complain about her boss yelling at her, I'd jump at
the chance to address the problem. I'm not the only one. You can also go to HR, of course,
depending on your HR department's track record of helping employees in similar situations. Know
what you're getting into first though: Is the culture one that seems like it would care about abusive
What if you have tried everything and you are continue to be at
the receiving end of a bullying boss or difficult boss?
1. There is an opportunity to follow a formal complaint procedure
within the organization.
2. Paul Keijzer article: “Are You Being Bullied By Your Boss?
Bully Back,” states that he had a good friend of his who tried
several different techniques to stop his bullying boss. He had
seen two of his coworkers quit due to the bullying boss. The
friend decided to take his problem to the companies ethics
3. The company decided the that the bullying boss was not acting
in line with the company values and decided to let him go.
4. Paul’s friend is still working at the organization and is doing a
What Happens to the Bullying Boss?
The bully moves on.
Hopefully he/she has learned from his experience of being let go
because of his/her bullying style and personality.
A possibility he/she changed his/her approach and stopped bullying
Maybe, but not likely though…
Bullies often remain bullies and the best way to deal with them is to
have courage to stand up against them.
Stand up to bullies without turning into the thing you hate, and watch
your workplace experience drastically change.
How many of you have encountered such issues in your