How you can fight back against a bully

Bullying in the office is alive and well, according to recent statistics.

Almost half of 1,305 respondents said verbal abuse is common where they work, according to a survey by New York consulting firm Integra Realty Resources. And 29% of workers admit that they have yelled at co-workers, says the American Management Association.

What’s the best way to handle a bully? Most people simply leave, researcher Pamela Lutgen-Sandvick recently told Gannett News Service. But that only strips the workplace of its best talent. The best tactic: Stand up to them.

Standing up takes planning and preparation, since bullies can be manipulative and sneaky, says Lutgen-Sandvick, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and an expert in workplace bullying. Her advice:

• Gather support. You’ll be more likely to gain management’s attention if you’re speaking as a group.

• Write down every bullying incident. Then compile a list of the costs of bullying: increased turnover, the loss of talented workers, lost productivity and absenteeism. Provide specific statistics to make your case to management.

Here’s one statistic you can use: In a survey of 9,000 federal employees in 2002, 42% of female and 15% of male employees reported being harassed within a two-year period, resulting in more than $180 million in lost time and productivity.

• Be factual, when recounting incidents. A calm, detached incident report will help managers see the bullying pattern more clearly.