Why are Bullies, Bullies?


We can hypothesise a number of reasons why bullies are bullies, however, when it comes to workplace bullying these are usually the reasons why –

  • They have their own personal psychological issues that they have not dealt with
  • They are jealous over another’s abilities to do a job, especially when they are recognised for their work and contribution
  • They fear that someone else will succeed on the job and they, the bully, will be perceived as less than (which further adds to their current insecurities)
  • Then there are those who unfortunately just don’t have the self-awareness or the emotional intelligence to build a rapport or work cooperatively with their co-workers 
  • They simply get a kick out of upsetting individuals



Get to know your Bully well

In time, find out when and what triggers them to respond in a maladaptive way.

Does the bully wait to get you alone, or does he/she wait until others are around so that they can publicly humiliate you? 

By understanding the bully’s patterns of behaviour will best prepare you not to get caught off guard and to better manage your responses and reactions. 

Gain an understanding 

Ask yourself, where is the bully “coming from?”  What issues are triggering them to act this way? You may try asking them for feedback and ask what their grievances are with you and see what their response is. They may shrug you off and say there is no problem when there clearly is or it may open a dialogue where you can clear up any misunderstandings.

Set Boundaries

When working on board it is really difficult to get some space form the bully when you have to live and work together. Think about what the limits of your contact with the bully will be. Perhaps you can swap some shift to limit the amount of time you work together? Know when to remove yourself from a “bullying” situation. Figure out a way to engage them in the least possible way and to exit the situation as quickly as possible. Do not attempt to reason with them when they are irrational. Also, try to avoid being in a situation where you are alone with them.

Self-regulate your emotions 

Initially, this will be extremely difficult as the purpose of the bully is to get some sort of reaction from you.  Stand up to the bully once you have had some time to collect your thoughts and calm yourself down. You can assertively tell the bully this is not the time nor the place, but when you have both calmed down, you would like to address the issue. Stay logical and practical. Keep your responses short and sweet, indicating there is no room for discussion.

Keep your positive network close

Stay close to the colleagues who support you. Sounds obvious but there’s nothing like being in the company of people who respect, love, and appreciate you. Some bullies have a knack of humiliating you or second-guessing yourself. Remember you are enough and you have a lot more going on for you than the bully. Build your on your strengths from the negative experience, as painful as the experience is; there is a lot of growth that can come out of this. Be proud of who you are and the beautiful attributes you have. It is likely that the Bully recognises your strengths but just doesn’t know how to cultivate it within themselves. 

Developing compassion is a great way to not only manage your feelings but build resilience. When I come across difficult people or bullies, I approach them with curiosity as I believe they have underlying issues going on for them and they don’t have the emotional or social skills to learn how to deal with it, so the next easiest thing to do is to project.

If you are experiencing a bullying situation, feel free to book a complimentary session, and we can work through it together.