Dealing with the office bully

May 11, 2012 at 4:45 p.m. ET

Is there someone at your office who pushes people around and goes out of their way to be mean and vindictive? You've got yourself an office bully. Here are some ways to deal with the situation.

Office bully

Do you dread going to the office because of that one particular person who's always unpleasant to be around, who's always pushy, snarky and sour? Sounds like you've got an office bully in your life, but the good news is that there are ways you can deal with their harassment before taking drastic measures (such as quitting your job).

Start by keeping records of their behaviour

Should you decide to report the office bully, you'll need documentation of their behaviour. Note dates, times and a detailed description of what transpired. Jot down who was present at the time of these incidents (you may need witnesses to back up your account in the future). If you have emails or other physical proof of the bully's actions, be sure to keep those on file as well.

Take the direct approach

You could start by talking with the bully directly about his or her behaviour. You'll have to assess your situation, of course, but being upfront with the person in question is a good (and fair) first step. Share how you perceive his or her behaviour and how it affects you and your job environment and performance. Keep the conversation on a work level rather than frame things in a personal way. You may want to document your private meeting in case you do have to bring the matter to a higher-up in the future.

Speak to your superior

If, after speaking to the office bully, you don't see a change in his or her behaviour and tactics, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the hostile environment the office bully is creating. Be sure to document this meeting too, and share with your boss the discussion you've already had one-on-one with the bully.

Report the bully's behaviour to human resources

If your discussion with your boss doesn't result in any changes, consider reporting the situation to human resources, or speak to your superior one more time about the lack of improvement in the situation. Mention that you are considering speaking to HR for their help in managing the situation. Human resources should have policies and standards in place, and they'll be skilled in managing such difficult workplace relationships.

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