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Delicately dealing with the office bully

What’s the worst thing about the office bully?

What’s the worst thing about the office bully?


It’s not the devastating putdowns, the passive-aggressive scoffs, or even the exhausting smirk on the know-it-all’s face.


For Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute, it’s that the bully usually wins — in 64 per cent of cases, Namie says, the victim winds up jobless.


“Unfortunately, targets are often the person that gets ostracized, and seen as the problem,” agrees NoWorkplaceBullies.com blogger Catherine Mattice. “Like, ‘Get over it, we’re adults here. What do you mean you’re being bullied?’”


But workplace childishness is common, and it’s no playground for the victims, many of whom, Namie says, “Suffer anxiety, depression, even PTSD in the most severe cases.”


Here are three steps to let your tormentor know you won’t take it anymore.


Step one
“Name it,” recommends Namie. “Call it bullying, psychological violence. Stop self-blaming.” For the pushovers who bullies often pursue, “that may take weeks, months, even years,” Namie admits. Although, if you catch on early, Mattice suggests cornering your intimidator for a chat.


“That’s only a tactic you should use right at the beginning,” she warns. Afterwards, let your body language do the talking. “Use their name, look them in the eyes, and stand with your chin up, arms at your side,” she advises.


Step two
Call in sick — because you are. “Stress-related health diseases can kill,” Namie notes. Spend your day off building what he calls a “business-based, dollars and cents” case against the bully. Are they affecting turnover? Absenteeism? Company reputation? “Try to put dollars to that,” he says. “Document everything,” Mattice adds. “Any emails you received, instant messages, phone messages.”


Step three
“Expose the bully, to the highest person you can (excluding) the bully’s apologist,” Namie says. “Speak in third party terms. Make the case that this bully is too expensive to keep.” It probably won’t work, he cautions. “So why do it? For your mental health,” he offers. “Go out guns-a-blazing. Later, you can say I worked for a bully and I chose not to be there anymore.”