8 Types of Workplace Bully and How to Shut Them Down

Irate customers, overtime, staff meetings, and deadlines. Whether you’re slaving away behind a hot stove or slumped over a well worn keyboard (ahem), the workplace can be stressful. I mean, if it wasn’t all that difficult, you wouldn’t be getting paid for it, right? Day-in day-out, occupational stresses are generally unavoidable. Bullies, however, are a different story.

They come in all shapes and sizes, and vary dramatically in attack styles, too. The important thing to remember with these cases is that bullying has very little to do with the actions of the victim. Bullying is a habitual desire for physical or social power. As a general rule, victims of bullying should do their best to ignore it if possible. I realize that we can’t all be zen masters 24/7, 365, so here’s a little Office Bully how-to cheat sheet. Print it off. Laminate it. Pin it up at your desk. Or, you know, just start with clicking that “next” button. Let’s go!

The Prankster

Everybody loves a good gag. A sticky note here, a missing tool there. Tasteful workplace pranks can be a great way to raise morale and liven up a boring day. They can also cross the occasional line too. But it doesn’t take long for the joke to wear thin and the laughter to subside. A few too many off-side acts of mischief to the wrong person, or the same person repeatedly can cause real, unfunny problems.

So, what should you do if the prankster crosses a few too many lines? On the first occurrence, you need to ignore it. If you can’t ignore it, try not to get too upset over the situation. On the second occurrence, talk to them about it. Tell them how the pranks make you feel and politely ask them to stop. On the third occurrence, try and get some backup. Ask another co-worker to politely communicate your issues with the person. That should do the trick.

pathdoc / Shutterstock
pathdoc / Shutterstock

The Saboteur

They sneak around, pull strings, and chop you down at every opportunity. The saboteur bully often takes credit for your ideas or spins tall tales of your incompetence. They’ll keep you close and use their inside information to obstruct, interfere, and even denigrate your hard work.

Got a co-worker that’s constantly trying to sabotage your work? First, cover your butt. Save those e-mails, dot your i’s, and be ready to prove your innocence. Nothing damages a saboteur’s credibility more than getting caught in the act. Kick it in to high gear and outperform them. If that fails, you can talk to them about it, report it to HR, or try your best to ignore them.

Fred Ho / Shutterstock
Fred Ho / Shutterstock

The Criticizer

The dog-eat-dog 9 to 5 world can bring out the worst in people as any level of success comes with its fair share of critics. These bullies’ modus operandi is obstruction through constant nitpicking. They search for flaws and highlight ways in which they would have performed the task better. They aren’t shy about broadcasting your flaws to your other co-workers either. It can be frustrating to say the least.

There are a number of ways to deal with it. First, try your best not to take the slights personally. Second, try and focus on the underlying message. I mean, maybe, their statements have merit. You may learn something. If that doesn’t work, you can always shower them with a little extra kindness. And if all else fails, just ignore them, or avoid them wherever possible.

Ollyy / Shutterstock
Ollyy / Shutterstock
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