Some say men do the most bullying; others say women do the most bullying. Men bullies tend to bully other men slightly more than they bully other women; women bullies tend to bully other women much more than they bully men, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s survey. Our focus is how to talk with men. However, some of our recommendations also apply to female bullies.

This same 2007 survey found that 37 percent of the approximately 7,700 workers said they were recipients of bully behaviors. This survey found that almost three-fourths of the bullies were at a higher level than the recipient. The bully could be the recipient’s supervisor, the group coordinator, the team leader, or a similar position.

Bullies tend to look for someone they think is vulnerable in some way or someone they think may not complain or stand up to them. If you are a new employee or have been newly promoted, a bully may think you are a threat or see you as competition. As with sexual harassers, bullies come in all sizes. There’s no way to predict who will be a bully.

As in sexual harassment cases, some recipients never tell their management about the behaviors. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute survey, 40 percent of the recipients never reported the bullying behaviors; another 38 percent said they filed an informal complaint at their company.

Silence Is Not the Answer

Being bullied is a horrible reality. You find yourself giving up your power unwillingly to someone else who pushes you around looking for your breaking point. The recipient is being humiliated many times in front of colleagues for many weeks, months, or more. Sometimes colleagues join forces with the bully, to keep the recipient down and out. Being bullied can be embarrassing to talk about; it can make you feel foolish or ashamed.

No matter how awful you feel, you must report this behavior. Don’t blame yourself for the bully’s behavior. A bully’s a bully. If he’s not picking on you, he’ll be picking on the next person who shows up.

Adapted from Audrey's book (co-author), Code Switching: How to Talk so Men will Listen.

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