Workplace Bullying Happens on Colleges & Universities, Too

by Aug 27, 2013

It’s clear that workplace bullies lack emotional maturity. They are known for being uncomfortable, threatening, or just plain intolerable. Workplace bullies frequently play favorites, and ignore others in return. With all of these behaviors and actions, its clear that workplace bullying will end up making your office or work environment extremely stressful, overwhelming, and unproductive.

How’s this for a troublesome statistic: sixty-four percent of those targeted by a workplace bully end up losing or quitting their job. Additionally, bullying costs employers around $250 million annually due to lower productivity, staff retraining, healthcare, and litigation. There is nothing good – economically or otherwise – about workplace bullying. This is an estimate based on cases discussed at the ACUHO-I annual conference.

Good news: workplace bullying CAN be stopped.

There are various tactics an employee can take to stop a workplace bully. Unfortunately, one solution will not solve all workplace bullying issues and combining multiple tactics is the best solution for dealing with workplace bullies.


Ignoring the bully may sound like its impossible, but its doable and necessary. Engaging the bully empowers and energizes them, with the bully thinking they’ve “got to you.” Some good ways to ignore the bully: walking away, changing the subject, or disregarding them altogether. The bully may get bored and simply give up.


Maybe the bully is not aware they actually are a bully. You might just have to call them out on their bullying behavior. Remember to always speak to the bully in private, so they don’t feel embarrassed or defensive. Never say “you.” Avoid sounding like you are blaming the bully.


Prove yourself through your work, and make sure your work is exceptional. Be committed to your organization, and show it clearly. There’s a chance the bully may look at you from a different, positive light. He or she may even look to you, as a leader.


Keep a record or log, noting when you are bullied, how it happened, and how you responded. Also, take note of possible witnesses, as they may be needed to present a case against the bully later. Better to be safe than sorry.


It may be necessary to report bullying incidents to your Human Resources department. This is where your record or log of bullying occurrences becomes key. HR will better know how to respond based on the information in your records. Your HR department or manager can even issue an anti-bullying policy, or re-iterate and distribute it if one already exists.


Workplace bullying can be quite the negative experience. But don’t let it drain you of a positive attitude, which is essential for moving forward and succeeding. Don’t blame yourself as a target – the bully is insecure. As the saying goes, “keep calm and carry on.”

Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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