In principle, the best way of dealing with workplace bullying is to confront it. But even if you are in a position to confront the bully directly, it is rarely advisable to do so in the first instance.


The best way to deal with problem is by following these four stages:

1. Preparation

Even if you feel you are in a position to confront the bully directly, you should still seek support from another person at the earliest possible stage. Choose a trustworthy person who will take the issue seriously. Keep a written record – including details of all incidents, dates, times and noting the names of any witnesses. This will be important if you later decide to make a formal complaint. Write down how you felt and how you responded at the time of each incident. This may also be important if you later decide to make a formal complaint. Talk to your Union representative at work or your Union official.

2. Confrontation

Once you have prepared your records and spoken to your trusted colleagues and advisors, it is time to confront the alleged bully directly.

Explain to him/her that you have already sought support and that you have spoken to a third party or parties.

If you feel you cannot confront the bully directly yourself, you should either:

(a) seek help from a competent person who can act on your behalf and confront the bully for you or (b) write to the bully saying that you object to his/ her unreasonable or threatening behaviour towards you and that you want it to stop; and point out you have discussed the matter with a third party.

If you decide to write to the bully, keep a copy of your letter and any replies. Avoid being alone with the bully and, if possible, try to find witnesses to the bullying.

3.  Response

If you are dealing with someone who was simply unaware that his/her behaviour was causing  problems, you may find that simply by bringing the issue to his/her attention, the situation is resolved. In such cases, an apology together with a promise not to repeat the behaviour may solve the problem.

If, on the other hand, the bully denies or rejects the criticism, you may have to make a written or verbal complaint to his/her superior.

When making a written or verbal complaint, be sure to stick strictly to the facts. At this point your record of previous instances of bullying becomes important. You should also talk to colleagues about what is happening to find out if others have had similar experiences or if you are the only person suffering in this way.

4.  Resolution

Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be possible to resolve the issue through mediation (using the services of a properly qualified mediator). This would generally be the most preferable course of action to follow. Your Union official should be able to give you advice on how this could be put in place.

However, in cases where mediation may not be appropriate, the issue should be dealt with through an investigation by a competent person or persons jointly agreed by management and the Union. If the investigation finds that bullying has taken place, the bully should then be subject to disciplinary sanctions and penalties in keeping with the seriousness of the offence – up to and including dismissal.

Where necessary, victims of bullying should seek professional help – at their employers’ expense – to deal with any physical, psychological or behavioural problems that may have developed as a result of the bullying.

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