Top 15 Signs That You Work With a Bully


Bullies can be found at every level and in any profession. Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize and identify the signs.

Bullying in healthcare has been an issue of growing concern for decades. Its prevalence is such that one in six employees throughout the United States will likely experience bullying in the workplace in his/her lifetime.

Unfortunately, bullying tactics often go undocumented, unnoticed, or unaddressed, so it’s important that healthcare professionals learn to identify and understand the signs early.

Below are the top 15 ways to spot a workplace bully:

  1. The person makes snide and unwarranted comments in any type of situation
  2. You notice eye rolling during a conversation or in a meeting
  3. Someone makes inappropriate jokes at another coworker’s expense
  4. You witness excessive and angry cursing at peers
  5. Outright humiliation of others in day-to-day work situations
  6. Unnecessary shouting and intimidation when trying to make a point
  7. Outright emotional/verbal abuse and name calling is a go-to response
  8. The person demeans, undermines, or impedes another person’s work, input or comment
  9. There is constant criticism and harassment of another’s actions
  10. The person is well known for spreading harsh rumors and gossip
  11. Withholding needed information about a patient or a change in the work environment
  12. Denial of promotions and vacations without reason
  13. Shunning or exclusion of others on social occasions
  14. A person is found rummaging through someone’s personal belongings
  15. You notice a person intentionally set up others for failure

If you witness someone at work that exhibits any or all of the behavior(s) on this list, you may be working with a bully. Acknowledgement of the problem is the first step toward resolution.

To learn more about bullying and how to address this kind of issue in the work place, read more at


305 words

About Author

1 Comment

  1. This is a great list of bullying behaviors and helpful to be aware of., but I don’t like focus on the word “bully”

    I think we have to be mindful about the language we use. Recognizing the difference between they term “bully” and “bullying behavior” is essential if we hope to improv individual and organizational behaviors.

    There are 3 reasons to focus on bullying behavior rather than “bully”:

    1. Reveals the True Problem

    When we use the term ‘bully’ it allows us to blame one person. ‘Bullying’, on the other hand invites us to consider victims, bystanders and culture. Since all of these are part of the history and cause of workplace violence, it makes sense to understand and address these aspects of the problem.

    A bully can’t exist without a victim or in an environment that doesn’t tolerate bullying behaviors.

    2. Reflection Process is Safer

    Looking inward is often a difficult process for many of us and yet an integral part of changing behavior. Consider how these reflective questions might feel:

    I wonder if I am bullying the new nurse?

    I wonder if my behaviors could be perceived as bullying?

    I wonder if I am a bully?

    The first and second statements allow us to be human and imperfect and include another person’s perception as part of the picture. The third one is more threatening and defines the very core of our being. If we are going to change these dynamics, doesn’t it make sense that we give ourselves and each other permission to make mistakes?

    In so many of our stressful environments, we have to be quick and accurate. A seasoned nurse’s decisive comment and action may be excluding and humiliating to a newer nurse. Our chronic sense of urgency becomes a license for poor conduct.

    Human beings are not perfect. I know that I have been short-tempered, impatient or frustrated at work. With over 30 years as a nurse and a consulting business teaching communication and Medical Improv , I have rolled my eyes, smirked, or used unfriendly body language. I have also joined in conversations about other professionals behind their backs. At this point in my life and career, even with all the work I have done in communication and emotional intelligence, I am not a perfect communicator. However, I am more able to own my part of a conflict and respect how other’s may be impacted, work to modify my behavior, apologize and forgive myself and others.

    3. Bridges to Healing Conversations

    As we become safer and more skilled in our reflection process, we will automatically be more prepared to show ownership in a conflict. This is one of the most powerful factors that leads us to productive conflict rather than remaining stuck in a power struggle. It is part of the dance of speaking up assertively and listening respectfully that I am often referring to.

    An example might be a new OR nurse who is upset and fighting tears because her preceptor humiliated her in front of the team.

    The preceptor who perpetuates the status quo might say:

    You are going to have to develop a thick skin if you are going to make it as an OR nurse.

    The preceptor who is committed to building a more positive workplace might say:

    I think I was pretty rough on you this morning. I could have given you feedback on your set-up without the condescending tone and language I used. What thoughts do you have?

    The second example is a great way to build a respectful and collaborative relationship which we know will contribute to safer, more cost-effective care and long-term rewarding careers.

    To summarize, a little shift in our language can contribute to a big shift out of the persistent problem of bullying in our workplaces!

Leave A Reply

Log in or register to comment on this article.