Workplace harassment and discrimination can take on many forms, some of which may be more serious than others. Bullying is one occurrence that may start small but eventually veer into harassing and discriminatory practices if left unaddressed. Because dealing with workplace bullies is everyone’s responsibility, The Spruce offers the following tips on how to handle this unfortunately common issue. 

If you’re subjected to bullying, take note of each occurrence in case you have to report the issue. The more proof you provide, the easier it will be to resolve the issue with management. While you may feel uncomfortable with reporting the problem, you must do so right away if you believe someone is at risk of being hurt or seriously threatened. While most bullying situations don’t progress to that level, you want to make sure that your workplace remains safe and secure. 

In cases where bullying behavior is not as serious, being assertive is often helpful. Bullies are less likely to target people who are assertive and confident in their abilities. They’re also less likely to target a person who is competent in his or her duties at work. If you’re working directly with a person known for bullying, remain firm but polite in your behavior, as this will prevent tensions from rising. 

Finally, if you are targeted, stand up for yourself. Even if the bully’s statements seem absurd and hard to believe, make sure you offer a rational defense to prevent others from picking up on the issue. While it may be more dignified to remain quiet when the victim of targeted attacks, doing so can actually backfire if your co-workers end up believing the bully’s statements.