Why No One Notices a Workplace Bully

Some tactics don't actually grow more sophisticated with age. If someone tormented you in your youth, you know all too well how standing up for yourself can backfire. Unfortunately, when it comes to the workplace, it doesn't get better.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida have just published a study on office bullies and who gets the backlash when they're caught. Rather than face disciplinary measures, workplace bullies tend not to suffer any consequences for their behavior, especially if they're liked by their supervisor. Instead, the bully's victim tends to be labelled as bullying — which can result in lower performance reviews and other tangible ill effects.

According to the UCF team, it all comes down to how we process bias. One important factor is called the halo effect, in which we excuse or totally miss a person's negative attributes because of the positives we perceive. The other side of this is the horns effect, in which we cast a negative light on someone's whole being because of one flaw.

If the workplace bully in your life is your boss, that can bring up all kinds of complications. Depending on the ways in which a manager is abusive, employees will turn to different coping strategies until something changes. Before you go to human resources, it's important to remember that HR is there to protect the company, not individual employees. You may need to troubleshoot your office experience and see if there's room to remove yourself from the situation. It stinks, and it's never fair, but you've always got the power to analyze the dynamic and walk away.