Stressed overworked young business woman sitting on floor. Fired and feeling depression in workplace

Tackling the Tyrant: Dealing with a Bullying Boss and Thriving in the Workplace


Bullying is not a phenomenon restricted to schoolyards; it can manifest itself in various forms in the workplace as well. A bullying boss can significantly impact an employee’s mental and emotional well-being, and ultimately, their job satisfaction and productivity. This article aims to address the issue of workplace bullying, specifically from bosses, and provide research-backed strategies for employees to overcome this challenge.

Recognizing the Bullying Boss

Before addressing the problem, it is crucial to understand the signs of a bullying boss. Some key indicators may include (Tepper, 2000):

  1. Unreasonable expectations and persistent criticism
  2. Public humiliation or belittling
  3. Exclusion from important meetings or discussions
  4. Sabotaging work or taking credit for accomplishments
  5. Making threats or displaying aggressive behavior

The Impact of Bullying Bosses

Research demonstrates that employees subjected to bullying by their bosses experience several adverse effects. A study by Namie and Namie (2009) found that victims of bullying reported higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments. Additionally, these employees were more likely to disengage from their work and experience decreased job satisfaction and productivity (Hershcovis et al., 2007).

Strategies for Dealing with a Bullying Boss

  1. Document incidents: Maintaining a record of bullying instances can help in making a strong case when reporting the issue to human resources or seeking legal assistance (Namie & Namie, 2009). Be sure to note the date, time, location, and details of each incident, as well as any witnesses present.
  2. Build a support network: Connecting with colleagues who have faced similar situations can provide emotional support and advice. Research by Lutgen-Sandvik (2008) found that forming alliances with coworkers can help victims regain a sense of control and empowerment.
  3. Confront the bully assertively: Research by Rayner (1997) suggests that confronting the bully assertively can potentially stop the behavior. However, it is important to remain professional and refrain from aggressive or accusatory language. Focus on the specific behaviors that are causing distress, and express your desire for a respectful work environment.
  4. Seek organizational support: If the bullying persists, report the situation to human resources or another appropriate authority within the organization. Present your documented evidence, and express your concerns about the impact of the behavior on your well-being and productivity (Namie & Namie, 2009).
  5. Prioritize self-care: Engaging in stress-reduction activities, such as exercise, meditation, or seeking therapy, can help mitigate the negative effects of bullying on mental health (Giga et al., 2008).


Dealing with a bullying boss can be a significant challenge, but it is essential to remember that you have the right to a safe and respectful work environment. By identifying the signs, seeking support, and taking action, you can stand up against a bullying boss and thrive in your workplace. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and strategies available to help you overcome this difficult situation.


Giga, S. I., Cooper, C. L., & Faragher, B. (2008). The development of a framework for a comprehensive approach to stress management interventions at work. International Journal of Stress Management, 15(4), 364-381.

Hershcovis, M. S., Turner, N., Barling, J., Arnold, K. A., Dupré, K. E., Inness, M., … & Sivanathan, N. (2007). Predicting workplace aggression: A meta-analysis

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