Workplace bullying is a common problem, costing businesses a great deal of money every year, and affecting the health and well-being of employees. Bullying at work can be a challenging problem to solve, because most workplace bullies will not do anything in front of a manager. In addition, some of the worst bullies can actually be managers. To handle bullying at work, you need to address the problem as soon as it begins, and in as calm a manner as possible. You also should carefully assess the political environment in the company, and the resources available to you.
Bullying at work can take many forms, from insults, intimidation, cruel jokes, or harassment, to someone always taking credit for your work, badmouthing you in front of other employees, consistently leaving you out of projects, or even threatening you with violence. If someone threatens violence, it is important to go directly to your superior, the human resources department, or even the police if you truly fear for your safety. Do not attempt to deal with the situation yourself.
If violence is not an issue, however, the best first step may be to confront the bully yourself in a calm manner. Do not yell or threaten him or her, simply state your case and that the bullying needs to stop. It may be helpful to ask questions, such as, "Would you like your spouse to be treated this way at work?" After you have spoken to the bully, document the incident, what you said, and his or her response; this may be helpful later if the bullying does not stop, and you need to bring the issue to a superior. Continue to carefully document any incidents of bullying.
Meanwhile, be sure that your superiors know what you do and how hard you work every day. Do not allow the bully to take credit for projects you have worked on or completed, and do not allow him or her to dominate any meetings you may have, or to discount all your ideas. Presenting a calm, assertive front while proving your own success at work can sometimes cause the bullying at work to stop; most bullies are simply after the feeling of control over others and will move on to someone else if you do not provide the satisfaction they seek.
It is important to maintain your friendships at your workplace, but do not badmouth the bully to others. If the bullying at work continues, and confronting the bully on your own has not made a difference, speak to a manager or someone in human resources. They will then be able to issue a formal warning, which could eventually lead to disciplinary action or even termination if the behavior does not improve. Sadly, in some extreme instances, your best option may be to transfer to another department, or even leave the company if the bullying comes from above, and you lack the political leverage to put a stop to it.