Business Discussion — By © Royalty-Free/Corbis

There is a common misconception that bullying only occurs in schools or universities; however, bullying in the workplace is more common than many people realize. According to the 2017 US Workplace Bullying Survey, 60% of U.S. workers have been affected by bullying at some point in their career. The main difference between workplace and schoolyard bullying is that it is not physical, but rather verbally and psychologically abusive. In addition, workplace bullying is often instigated by a person in authority or power position, with the desire to dominate and cause fear in the victim.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and even though it can be a delicate subject to manage, especially in the workplace, it is essential to know how to respond, whether you are the victim or a bystander.

Here are four ways to manage workplace bullying:

  • Consider Culture As companies become more globalized, you will likely be working with people from many cultures. It is very common to have miscommunication due to cultural differences. Ask yourself if the situation could be due to professional environments that vary by culture – such as a hierarchical office versus a more egalitarian workspace – before jumping to the conclusion that it’s personal.
  • Communicate If you are feeling mistreated by a colleague, manager or even your boss, be clear and communicate what has occurred. Consider only objective facts, and avoid subjective opinion.
  • Corroborate If you determine that bullying has occurred, don’t stay silent. Seek out coworkers that have witnessed or experienced the abusive treatment in the past too. You’ll need evidence and support if you choose to file an official complaint.
  • Report If the mistreatment doesn’t stop, contact your HR department. They will provide the correct company protocol on how to handle the situation.  

Even though bullying may occur more than we like, there are solutions. Stay positive and be open about the situation, knowing that you are not alone.


Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.