Surviving Workplace Bullying: Effective Coping Strategies

Workplace bullying is a serious issue affecting millions of workers each year. Surviving workplace bullying can be challenging, but it’s essential to your physical and emotional well-being. Bullying at work can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as decreased productivity and job satisfaction.

In this section, we will provide effective coping strategies that can help you deal with workplace bullying. These tips can help you protect yourself from further harm and begin to heal from any damage that has already occurred. Whether you’re currently experiencing workplace bullying or are recovering from a previous incident, these strategies can help you move forward and thrive in your work environment.

Understanding Workplace Bullying and Its Effects

Workplace bullying is a type of mistreatment that involves persistent, unwanted behavior directed at an individual or group in the workplace. Such behavior can take various forms, including verbal abuse, physical assault, intimidation, and exclusion from social and work-related activities. Workplace bullying can have several negative effects on individuals and the work environment.

One of the most significant effects of workplace bullying is the negative impact it can have on mental health. Individuals who are bullied at work may experience increased levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. This, in turn, can lead to decreased job satisfaction, lower productivity, and increased absenteeism. Workplace bullying can also create a toxic work environment that can have negative consequences for overall employee morale and performance.

Studies have shown that workplace bullying can lead to a range of physical health problems as well. Individuals who experience workplace bullying may develop headaches, digestive problems, and sleep disturbances. In some cases, workplace bullying can even result in serious medical conditions such as heart disease.

Understanding the Different Types of Workplace Bullying

There are several different types of workplace bullying behavior, each with its own unique characteristics. Some common types of workplace bullying include:

Type of Workplace Bullying Description
Verbal Abuse Includes name-calling, yelling, and belittling comments.
Physical Assault Includes hitting, shoving, and other forms of physical violence.
Intimidation Includes threats, blackmail, and other forms of coercion.
Exclusion Includes ignoring, excluding, and isolating individuals from social and work-related activities.

It is essential to recognize these behaviors to understand when workplace bullying is taking place. Identifying workplace bullying can help individuals take steps to protect themselves and seek appropriate solutions.

Recognizing Workplace Bullying Behavior

Workplace bullying can take many forms and may not always be easy to identify. Understanding the different types of bullying behaviors can help individuals recognize when they are experiencing or witnessing workplace bullying.

Type of Bullying Behavior Description
Verbal bullying Includes belittling, name-calling, and yelling. Can be direct or indirect.
Physical bullying Involves physical aggression, such as pushing, hitting, or throwing objects, and can result in injury.
Emotional bullying Manipulating or humiliating others, spreading rumors, or withholding information to create a negative work environment.
Sexual harassment Includes any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Discrimination Occurs when someone is mistreated or excluded based on their race, gender, age, or other protected characteristic.
Intimidation Using fear and threats to control or manipulate others.

It’s essential to recognize workplace bullying behavior to take appropriate action. If you observe any bullying behavior in your workplace or experience it yourself, it’s important to report it to your supervisor or human resources department.

Signs of Workplace Bullying

Not all workplace bullying is easy to spot, but there are some common signs that you may be experiencing or witnessing bullying behavior. These include:

  • Feeling intimidated or uncomfortable around certain colleagues
  • Being excluded or isolated from work-related activities or conversations
  • Receiving excessive criticism or being blamed for things that are not your fault
  • Having your work sabotaged or undermined by colleagues
  • Being shouted at or publicly humiliated

These signs should not be ignored, and action should be taken to address the situation.

Coping Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Bullies

Workplace bullying can be a distressing experience, and it is essential to have effective coping strategies in place to deal with it. Here are some practical steps individuals can take when dealing with workplace bullies:

  1. Stay Calm: It is essential to remain calm and composed while dealing with a workplace bully. Avoid reacting impulsively and instead maintain a professional demeanor.
  2. Document Incidents: Keep a record of the bullying incidents as they occur, making note of the date, time, and details of the incident. This information can be useful when reporting or seeking support later.
  3. Seek Support: Reach out to colleagues or friends for support during this difficult time. Having a strong support system can be crucial when dealing with workplace bullying.
  4. Confront the Bully: If possible, face the bully by respectfully sharing your perspective and setting clear boundaries. Ensure that you remain professional and avoid engaging in a heated confrontation.
  5. Report the Incident: Consider reporting the bullying incidents to a supervisor or HR manager. Many workplaces have policies in place to deal with incidents of harassment or bullying.
  6. Take Care of Yourself: Prioritizing self-care is essential when coping with workplace bullying. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.
  7. Consider Legal Action: If the bullying behavior is severe and persistent, it may be necessary to consider legal action. Seek legal advice to learn more about your options and potential outcomes.

By following these coping strategies, individuals can effectively deal with workplace bullies and survive the challenging experience. Remember that surviving workplace bullying is possible, and it is essential to prioritize your well-being when navigating this difficult time.

Seeking Support and Reporting Workplace Bullying

Dealing with workplace bullying can be a daunting experience, but it is important to seek support and speak up about any incidents of bullying or harassment. This not only helps the victim feel heard and validated, but it also raises awareness about the issue and can lead to prevention measures being put in place.

If you are experiencing workplace bullying, the first step is to reach out to someone you trust, whether it is a supervisor, HR representative, or coworker. It is important to document the incidents of bullying, including the date, time, location, and any witnesses present. This information can be used when reporting the incident and can help support your case.

It is also important to be aware of your company’s policies regarding workplace bullying and harassment. Many organizations have established procedures for reporting such incidents, and it is important to follow these procedures in order to ensure that the incident is properly addressed.

If you feel uncomfortable reporting the incident to your immediate supervisor or HR representative, there are other resources available. Many organizations have employee assistance programs (EAPs) or hotlines that offer confidential support and counseling to employees who are experiencing workplace bullying or harassment. Additionally, there are numerous support groups and organizations dedicated to preventing workplace bullying that can provide helpful resources and guidance.

Remember, seeking support and reporting workplace bullying is not only important for your own well-being, but it also helps to create a safer and more positive work environment for everyone. By speaking up about workplace bullying, you are taking a stand against this harmful behavior and helping to prevent it from occurring in the future.

Creating a Positive Work Environment

If you are dealing with workplace bullying, creating a positive work environment can provide a sense of safety and support. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Lead by example: Whether you are a manager or an employee, modeling respectful behavior sets the tone for the entire workplace. Treat colleagues with kindness and empathy, and make it clear that bullying behavior will not be tolerated.
  2. Encourage communication: Foster an environment where people can speak openly and honestly about their concerns. Encourage employees to voice their opinions and feelings without fear of retribution, and provide regular opportunities for team members to share feedback and ideas.
  3. Provide training: Offer training sessions on workplace bullying and harassment, teaching employees how to identify and report these behaviors. Provide resources for coping with workplace bullying, including advice on how to address negative situations constructively.
  4. Promote work-life balance: Help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance by encouraging breaks, flexible schedules, and opportunities to pursue personal interests. By prioritizing employee well-being, you foster a more positive, supportive workplace culture.

Remember, creating a positive work environment takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it. By prioritizing respectful behavior and providing support for employees dealing with workplace bullying, you can help create a workplace where everyone feels safe and valued.

Coping with Workplace Bullying: Resources for Assistance

Dealing with workplace bullying can be challenging, and seeking outside support can be beneficial. If you or someone you know is experiencing workplace bullying, there are numerous resources available to provide assistance.


Several organizations offer helpful resources and information on workplace bullying. The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) provides free resources on workplace harassment and bullying, including books, educational material, and research data. Another organization to consider is the National Workplace Bullying Coalition, which offers support and resources for individuals and organizations experiencing workplace bullying.


If you need immediate assistance, several hotlines offer confidential support for individuals experiencing workplace bullying. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line both provide resources and immediate assistance for individuals in crisis. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can also provide support for those experiencing workplace harassment and abuse.

Support Groups

Support groups can be an excellent resource for individuals experiencing workplace bullying. Talking to others who have experienced similar situations can provide comfort and a sense of community. The online support group, Workplace Bullying Support Group on Facebook, offers a safe space for individuals experiencing workplace bullying to share their experiences and receive support from others.

Remember, you are not alone in dealing with workplace bullying. Seeking outside support and resources can help you cope with challenging situations and take steps toward a healthier and more positive work environment.