Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullying

Inform yourself
For many people, there is some relief in simply recognizing that they are being bullied and that help is available.

Understanding how abusive conduct is defined is an important foundation for action. If you have not already done so, please take the time to read the What is Workplace Bullying/Abusive Conduct? section of this website.

Take action
Taking action does not mean you have to confront the bully. It means identifying specific, manageable steps you can take to address the problem, and beginning to take those steps. As a first step, consider making an appointment with a campus resource person appropriate to your situation for assistance in mapping out a strategy.

Depending on the circumstances, your strategy may include:

    • Minimizing your exposure (and/or modifying your response) to the bullying behavior
    • Documenting incidents of bullying
    • Seeking counseling to strengthen your coping skills as you carry out your plan
    • Reporting the problem to your supervisor or another appropriate authority

Document incidents of bullying
By definition, bullying is a pattern of behavior, sustained over time. When viewed in isolation, individual acts of bullying may not seem significant. Effective documentation will describe specific incidents, show the pattern they create, and make clear the detrimental impact on individual and organizational effectiveness.

The following template is designed to help you capture the most useful information in a relatively concise format. You may also want to save emails or voice messages that demonstrate the problem.

Date, time, place, who was present
What happened? Words, volume, tone; gestures, facial expression, body language
How did it affect you – at the time, and later?
How did it affect others?
Has it happened before? Is it part of a pattern? What does the pattern look like?

Seek counseling to strengthen your coping skills
Most UCSC employees have access to free or low cost counseling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP services are confidential, voluntary, free of charge, and accessible. You may call (866) 808-6205 for a confidential consultation with a representative of Optum. The representative can tell you more about how the service works, and help you find a counselor who understands the problem of workplace bullying -- and what you can do to stay healthy while you are dealing with it.  Further information about the EAP program is also available online.

Students may contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at the UCSC Student Health Center to inquire about no-cost, confidential counseling: (831) 459-2628. More information is available at the CAPS website.

Reporting the problem to an appropriate authority
Depending on the circumstances, you may choose to approach the supervisor of the alleged bully, or another manager or supervisor who knows and values your work. If you decide to arrange such a meeting, here are some suggestions to help you achieve the best outcome.

Before the meeting

  • Outline your presentation. Prepare to address each of the following points:
    • What is the pattern of behavior?
    • How long has it been going on?
    • How is it affecting your ability to do your job effectively?
    • What is the impact on the work group, unit, or department?
    • What, if anything, has been done to address the problem, and what has been the result?
  • Organize your documentation
    • If no record exists, sit down with a calendar and piece together your memories of each incident
    • Ask co-workers who have witnessed the bullying to recount their memories
  • Record the address or print relevant sections from this website

At the meeting

  • Use a calm voice and confident body language
  • Provide a brief overview of the problem. Avoid exaggeration.
  • Emphasize your credibility
    • Your record as a productive employee
    • Your ability to get along with others
  • Acknowledge that the bully may not be aware of the impact of his or her actions
  • Ask if the listener has questions or needs further clarification
  • Provide names, if you have them, of other employees who have been bullied and would be willing to discuss the problem
  • Ask what action will be taken and / or when you may contact the person to follow up