If You're Being Bullied By A Coworker, Here's What You Should Do

Much of our adult lives are spent at work, which means many of us will spend a lot of time in the presence of co-workers. Ideally, you want to work with people that you like or at least can get along with in order to help achieve goals at work. However, co-worker relationships aren't always happy and healthy, and while we might have thought that bullies are only on the childhood playground, workplace bullying is also a serious problem.

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as "repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more employees of an employee: abusive conduct that takes the form of verbal abuse; or behaviors perceived as threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; work sabotage; or in some combination of the above." 

The institute also claims that 30% of the adult American workforce are bullied on the job, and estimates that 76.3 million workers are affected by this problem. This is definitely not okay, and if you are one of those affected by workplace bullying, you can find out how to deal with those bullies at work below. 

Try and document all instances of bullying at work

According to Fairy Good Boss, people can experience different forms of bullying while at work, including intimidation, condescension, taking credit, gossiping, and more. 

Speaking to Monster, conflict-resolution specialist, Tara Fishler, said that bullying "at its core" is all about "power." She added, "When someone feels threatened or powerless, they try to exert power over other people through bullying." Fishler also recommends that if you experience bullying in the workplace, you should document all instances of bullying behavior with a date, time, and action, so if it continues, you have evidence to present. 

If you're being bullied by a co-worker that's at your same level or a subordinate, Lynne Curry, the author of "Beating the Workplace Bully: A Tactical Guide to Taking Charge," recommends trying to deflect the bullying with a nonchalant response, such as "give it a rest." 

Gary Namie, the director of the Workplace Bullying Institute and co-author of "The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes from Killing your Organization," notes that if the person bullying you is your supervisor or another senior figure, you'll need to be mindful if you decide to confront them as "you can't stand your ground as readily, since there's a power dynamic."

Per Verywell Family, when confronting others about workplace bullying, it's important to be confident and to have specific examples of the behavior that you would like to stop. 

Prioritize your own mental and physical health

If your company has a human resources (HR) department and confronting the bully hasn't seemed to work, go to HR with your complaint. According to Forbes, an effective way to do this is to outline to HR everything that you have done to prevent the bullying, rather than telling them you haven't yet tried to act on it. Another top tip when speaking to human resources is to keep your emotions in check, as being too emotional might discredit your version of events.

Per Fairy God Boss, speaking with a therapist or a counselor could also help give you some coping strategies or ideas for how to deal with your specific workplace bullying situation. 

Most importantly, do what's best for your physical and mental health. It may be that you just can't work there anymore, as you can only control your response to the situation and can't force anyone to change. While looking for another job is scary, enduring repeated bullying can have detrimental health effects like high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression (via Monster). 

So remember, don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and feel free to remove yourself from an unhealthy situation.