[i]Ferran Traite Soler/iStockphoto[\i]


On my last day of high school, someone threw a pickle at me. It hit me in the back of my head. I swiveled around, fuming. I saw three laughing jackanapes scamper quickly down the hallway until they blended into the mass of bustling students. "Things will be different when you get in college. It's not like high school. Everyone is nicer, more mature," my parents often told me. But things never really changed.

Bullies Waste Our Resources

Bullies are everywhere. They are on the internet. They are in our schools, and they are in our workplaces. You'll even find them working for environmental charities. Bullying wastes $180 million dollars in lost time and productivity per year. Bullying costs the Australian taxpayers 1 million dollars annually. That's a lot of dough and resources to be paid out for something that people just shouldn't do.

From the Independent:

Chris Ball, national officer for the voluntary sector at the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union, says bullying represents a waste of human resources: "So often people who are bullied end up leaving the organisation. It is a waste of training, it is a breakdown of communications, it is a loss of time."

How to Deal With Workplace Bullies

Check out Bullyonline.org for comprehensive dealing-with-bullies strategies.

1. Take stock of the situation

Are you being bullied? Are others being bullied around you? If you are not the only one being bullied, talk to others who are in the same position as you? You may have allies who can support you if you decide to go to a superior. However, some bullies gain their power by conscripting cohorts. Watch out for that.

Bullies will try to gain power control through criticisms of your supposed shortcomings. They will find a grain of truth about an error your made and expand upon it one-hundred fold. This criticism may bring about feelings of guilt and shame. Those are the same methods a child molesters use to control and silence their victims. Think about that the next time you are bullied at work. Other signs of bullying are having work unnecessarily piled on you, getting overly supervised when you make the slightest error and having other people take credit for your work.

2. Empower Yourself

The bully is just insecure. Your mom was right. He is actually projecting his or her shortcomings on to you. Why? It seems like bullies like to pick on people who excel, are popular or have a difference of opinion. The bully fears that you will expose his or her inadequacy. Knowing that the problem isn't with you is half the battle.

3. Take Action

Keep a journal of all the instances of bullying. Keep any threatening emails, voice mails or letters. If the bullying is severe, you may have to go your boss. The bully may deny everything. Having evidence will help your case. If the bully is your boss, take this evidence to the human resources manager.

Here are some helpful phrases from Bullyonline. Org:

By the way s/he chooses to behave, s/he prevents myself and others from fulfilling our duties.

By the way s/he chooses to behave, s/he brings her/himself, the staff, the department and the employer into disrepute.

The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy; bullying is a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence.

Your criticisms and allegations lack substantive and quantifiable evidence.

Stand up For Yourself

Remember. Never fight the bully at his own game. Always be professional and courteous. If you feel harassed by the bully, say "I feel harassed by you." Call a colleague over if you want a witness. It is OK to demand your rights. It is OK to say no.

Look For a New Job

It sucks to lose. But are you really losing? If a workplace is so unfriendly that it allows bullies to prey willy-nilly, the management is lax. The company probably loses money and resources because of their bully-friendly atmosphere. If you are a stellar enough employee to warrant bullying, maybe it's time to work for some people who will recognize your potential.