how to handle workplace bullying

If You're Being Bullied

Document it. Document everything in writing and save copies of your complaints and reports in your personal files and on your personal, non-work-related computer. “The thing that saved me is I documented everything,” Portelos says. “Someone sneezed, I documented it.”

Don’t immediately quit. “If you quit without having another job lined up in this economy, then you’ve messed up yourself and not the bully,” Ballman says. “The bully wins and will bully someone else.”

...But don’t put your health or well-being at risk, either. “Know your tolerance level,” Ballman suggests. “No job is worth your health or your safety.”

Use caution when working with HR. “I’m not sure HR is the [best route] to go through,” Maria says. “Everything I read said that HR is not your friend. HR works on behalf of the organization.”

Don’t expect your coworkers to back you up. Even if your colleagues say they’re on your side, you may not be able to rely on them when the chips are down. “Assume your coworkers are going to lie to save their jobs,” Ballman says.

Lawyer up. If you are fired for reporting bullying, or if an employer allows retaliation to occur, it may be time to contact an attorney, Ballman suggests.

Remember that you are not alone. “You start to feel you’re the only one going through it,” Maria says, “but you’re not.” Visit the Workplace Bullying Institute Web site for more information, to read tales of bullying or to reach out for help.

This is a companion piece to the feature "Beyond the Playground: When Bullying Elbows Its Way Into the Workplace."

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