Bullies can be found anywhere, from the halls of elementary schools to the office at work. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, and they are of all cultures, races, genders, and ages. Bullies can be found where one least expects them, even among adult leaders in prestigious positions. They prey upon vulnerable people who are reactive to them and upon people with excellent etiquette.
If one does not let the bully get him or her down, if one does not react to negative comments, there is a good chance the bully will stop. I recall that when I was a child very few children teased me because they knew that I would not have been impacted by their words. When the bully knows his or her comments will not impact the psychology of the victim, it is less likely the bully will continue to pester the subject. At the scholastic level, the bully has less power than he or she has on the job.
All that I had learned about resisting bullies in school as a child was not quite as effective when I encountered an adult bully in the workplace. She was a fellow co-worker who would always put others down when they asked questions. She would make statements such as “You should have known that.” She would never answer the questions asked of her when I asked them. At one point, I discovered that she was telling other fellow employees that I should have known something but that I did not know how to put a decimal in a test score. As soon as this fellow teacher earned her PhD, she called me in with a letter full of reprimands for accusations that I, fortunately, proved to be untrue. She had told me to go to a meeting at one venue, but she invited all the others in the group to the same meeting at another location. Fortunately, I had proof in the form of a letter.
I had never been susceptible to bullies in my childhood, but I discovered that when the bully is your boss, or even someone who pretends to be your boss (such as a fellow teacher), dealing with the bully is a whole new ball game. If the bully is your boss, you must consider whether or not it is worth it to continue working with that person. You might decide to report the bully to others around you, such as superiors and colleagues. In my case, the best option was to find a new job because there were many better opportunities out there. Eventually, what comes around goes around, and the bully will probably pay a price for his or her behavior once everyone comes to understand just how destructive the bully can be. Anyone who witnesses bullying should proactively defend the victim in one way or another without resorting to physical altercations.