Dealing with a bully

Dealing with a bully

Learning how to deal with a bully is essential in the 21st century. Bullies are everywhere. They are in our schools, churches, and the workplace. It takes one bully to make your life feel miserable. You will have to deal with this Goliath of a bully.

How do you know that you are dealing with a bully?

The common signs of bullying and how they make you feel

  • Condescension. The bully speaks to you like you are a dimwit, a person who is unable to think, talk, or do anything intelligent or acceptable.
  • Humiliation. Your persecutor seems to derive great pleasure in humiliating you publicly and often ropes others in to throw verbal stones at you or, worse, to ignore you.
  • Criticism. Always criticise your work or behaviour for unjustifiable reasons
  • Shame. Make you feel ashamed for no real wrongdoing or that you are the problem, inadequate or unworthy.

Signs on the behaviours of your bully

  • Spread rumours: He or she speaks to others behind you back, making sure that the rumours find their way back to you.
  • Setting others against you. Deliberately set others against you to create conflict or force you to be an outcast in the team.
  • Aggressive. Speak or behave aggressively towards you.
  • Moody. Displays mood swings from civil and friendly to angry and unpredictable.
  • There are many other signs of bullying, refer to ERC for more information.

The impact on you?

Your emotions usually spin out of control, and your confidence drops. You think that running away is your only option. You know that you have to face your tormentor.

What if your bully is your boss?

More and more senior leaders are becoming tyrants in the workplace, alienating the people they dislike. They create a toxic culture where bully tactics and behaviours are prevalent. Many of their direct reports feels politically obliged to heed their bidding or cast a blind eye. You realise that you are the sheep on the altar and that no one can save you except yourself.

Your actions to end your persecution;

  • You try and ignore the entire situation, hoping that things will improve.
  • Work harder and for longer hours wishing that this will save you from being oppressed.
  • You engage in a civil conversation with him or her. Explaining how his/her words and behaviour is affecting you. Only to find that he or she mocks you or pretend that you’ve imagined everything.

How can you deal effectively with a bully?

Starting with you: 

  • You should keep calm, breath and manage your emotions.
  • Acknowledge to yourself that you deserve respect. 
  • Say, “No!” to being ill-treated. By setting clear boundaries, it makes it clear as to what you find as unacceptable behaviour.

 Practical steps to break free from being oppressed

  • Seek help from a trusted colleague, your HR department, or consult with a legal advisor who will guide you with regards to your rights and how to proceed against intimidation tactics.
  • Keep a record of your ordeal.
  • Confirm inappropriate instructions via email.
  • Establish who will be willing to testify to the abuse that you have suffered. They, too, could be victims of this tormentor.
  • Keep to the facts of the matter. An over-emphasis on only the emotional aspects of the bullying makes the case hard to prove. 

Policies and laws against victimisation.

  • Don’t fall prey to bullying or victimisation. There are policies and laws against bullying. The Employment Equity Act section 6 (1) and 6 (2) deals with bullying, which is a form of harassment. Everyone is subject to these laws.
  • Most companies have a grievance procedure that allows you to act against your tormentor. 
  • Should you exhaust the internal process without a satisfactory outcome. You can refer the matter to the CCMA (Commission of Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration). 

Why should you deal with bullies?

  • To improve your work experience you need to formally challenge your tormentor.
  • You will learn how to face your fear and deal with other bullies.
  • You will set an example to help others who are being bullied.

The lessons you gain from these tyrants.

  • You learn that you have the power of choice. You can decide who and for which company you want to work. Do your research. Find out about the company values, the leaders, and how happy the employees are to work there. Never forget that your health and well-being are just as important as being financially stable. 
  • You learn how to put a stop to all forms of bullying.  
  • You learn that many people are willing to help you; if you are brave enough to ask.  


Defeating your Goliath, will be one of your proudest moments. Your strength, resilience, and confidence will grow. One such challenge is enough to ensure that you never find yourself in such a situation ever again.

2 thoughts on “Dealing with a bully”

  1. There are indeed so many bullies out there. They are intimidating when they are in a position of power and you believe you have a lot to lose as a subordinate. I agree with you as scary as it is one needs to stand up to bullying otherwise the bully continues. As a parent I often advise my kids to stand up to bullying and report it. We expect our kids to display courage and yet we as adults are scared to do the same. I have found if you stand up to a bully they start seeing you are not a push over and in most instance back off. Record keeping is critical and telling someone is key. You may find that you are not the only victim and others may be willing to come forward with you. Being bullied can be emotionally and mentally traumatic on you as an individual and on your family. Go for counseling and seek help.

  2. I agree with you – it is emotionally and mentally traumatic. Counseling is a great way to deal with being bullied
    Your feedback and input will help many others – thank you

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