Would You Confront A Bully? – Making the best decision

Every person will have their own ethical code that determines who they are and what lines they will or will not cross. Recently Sadje asked what rules we would not be willing to break and my thinking led me down a path to consider my reaction to bullies.

I have been told I have very strong moral/ethical values; that I have lines I won’t cross that would get me into trouble. That was primarily in the gaming world, but Sadje’s question got me wondering if in the world outside of the computer, would I stand my ground so firmly. I’d like to think I would, but unless we’re put in a situation, its difficult to know how each of us would react. We know how we should react if we see a bully, but in the moment would you confront the bully or keep quiet? From my experience, I know that is a very hard decision and its very easy to decide not to rock the boat and just stay quiet. Keeping quiet however doesn’t support the victim of the bully and the bully is allowed to continue their inappropriate behaviour.

In the past, I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to make a difference. Many years ago the office junior where I worked was going to be dismissed for her poor performance and attitude. I (as supervisor of the admin/secretarial staff) spoke up and said I thought she had some potential, that she was bored as she was not in a role that challenged or stretched her. She never knew the background to her promotion, but she was given a new job as a trainee trainer and when I left the organisation a few years later, she was thriving. That may have been an easy situation but it was the first time I’d ever stood up for someone else and went against management over a decision they were making.

The second situation was a bit more recent, with a manager who was a bully. I knew I had to challenge this behaviour as it was causing a lot of stress and making everyone miserable. I spoke with HR and the said manager basically tried to go on a witch-hunt. I could easily have backed down but when they confronted me, I stood firm and said that yes, their behaviour was perceived as bullying. I had to emphasise that I wasn’t just speaking in a personal capacity (ie that I didn’t feel bullied by them) but that the behaviour observed was bullying and not an appropriate way to treat staff. Despite the fear of being victimised or maybe even being disciplined by said manager, I knew I had to stand my ground. I must admit that facing up to a bully in that way was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. Consequently, I believe I will always try to support others who are being bullied or believe that they are being bullied. I can’t look the other way and pretend its not happening.

I guess, returning to my initial musings; yes, I will stand my ground in the real world even where it might “get me into trouble”. I’m glad to see that my values are the same on and off-line.

Bullying in any context is wrong, but if its allowed to become embedded in workplace cultures it can lead to the situations we’re hearing so much about in the UK today with instances of institutional discrimination which is so destructive and damaging to organisations and their workforces. There should be no place for bullying in the workplace of today.


  1. It’s sad to see how humans treat one another now adays! But still some where some one need to be corrected and from the other side of the fence you might intern become a bully!

  2. You are absolutely right Brenda, there should be no place for bullying in the workplace. I always stand against any episodes of bullying exactly to avoid that it would be embedded in the organizational culture. The results I have seen is that in most of the cases bullies have been moved away to another team (not fired). But once, the bully was fired thanks to all staff who stood together, and asked for an independent investigation. It took two years, but I work for a public body with long procedures to follow.

  3. I’m so glad you have stood up to bullies, especially at work!! Work can be tricky, because you have superiors to deal with, HR, and sometimes even cliques within the workplace. I’m glad you didn’t back down. People should be mature and respectful at work, of all places!

    • Thank you 🙂 I think the first time we stand up is the most difficult, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Plus now, I’m a harassment and bullying advisor at work, so support others

  4. I left my last workplace (and retired after 40 years) because I was bullied by someone who had been hired on retainer by the company to be a sales trainer. This person stepped into an HR role he was not qualified for and confronted me about things that should have been addressed by management. It was horrible, and I ended up just walking out of the job. That said, in my past I have stood up to bullies, but now rather than have a confrontation I just walk away. Life’s too short – for me anyway. Great post, Brenda!

    • Thanks Mike and Kellye. I think sometimes we need to decide if it’s worth the effort to fight. I do hear of situations where people find it easier to change jobs rather than confront the bully.
      As a HR professional myself, it maddens me when HR don’t act appropriately

      • This guy wasn’t even an employee of the company, nor was he an HR professional. Our daughter was also an HR professional at that time and she was appalled. It’s all under the bridge now, though, and I LOVE being retired.

      • Thats the main thing. And just think of all those travel adventures you’re getting to have. I’m counting down the years to my retirement to go exploring too 😁

      • My hubby is already retired but I’ve still got a few years to go. And yes, I still enjoy teaching HR, so im not done yet. 😁

  5. A great post, Brenda.
    Bullying on any level is a definite no. Unfortunately, it exists and seems to be getting worse over time. Let’s hope the victims learn to stand up as you did. 🤍✨

  6. Cheers to you for speaking up…standing up…being honorable. There are nuances to every situation. When it’s possible to do ‘what’s right’ AND you can avoid becoming a target of something (or someone) malevolent, I’m with you, but often the tormenter holds power and, in those cases, documentation and building a case, seeking allies and advocacy…which sometimes means moving slower…can be prudent. 🤍 Thanks for your post, Brenda!

    • Thanks Vicki. You’re right, standing up needs to be done at the right time, and gathering that evidence is so important. Very often it’s a case of no witnesses, so the person being bullied needs to gather evidence. I recently advised someone who was being bullied to keep a diary of the events so that they have proof.

      • Ohh….you ARE a wise one…that’s some of the BEST advice ever…keep a trail…document EVERYTHING. Yes, yes! 🥰

      • Thank you Vicki. As I said in another comment, I’m a harassment and bullying adviser … but its easy to.ssy what we should do 😁

      • My oldest is in much the same situation with a manager. My first comment was get every word down in writing, every time. Smart woman was already doing that!

        I commend you Brenda, for standing up when it was needed.

      • Thanks Deb. You gave your daughter perfect advice. I hope your daughter will be able to resolve her situation

  7. Ethics is not limited to theory, it should be applied in our regular life.
    Well done, Brenda! 👏👏
    Your story is inspiring and encouraging.

  8. Yes, though reluctantly, I cannot stand by and allow a bully to step on people.

    I guess this started around 6th grade for me. The same kid harassed me every day for several weeks, between classes. I was not a big kid, and this guy intentionally bumped into me – hard! It went on for a few weeks! One day, I dodged him, punched him in the nose, and kept walking. I guess he went a different way after that. I didn’t see him any more.

    Since then, when I see a bully, I confront them. I’ve learned to be less aggressive in my response / approach. But bullies are generally insecure and tend to hate actual confrontation.

  9. I would rather skip commenting on this topic

    Because I have been bullied, so things looks great in words but in reality never worked (atleast for me)

    Great share ma’am

    • Thanks for commenting Devang. I appreciate it may have been difficult for you. You’re right, it doesn’t always get resolved properly, but we should try and it should be clear that bullying won’t be tolerated. I hope you’re not still on the receiving end.

  10. Bullying can be difficult to deal with, especially when it has permeated throughout an organization.
    I’ve found it easier to leave. Arguing only takes a greater toll on me. Life is to short.

    • Thanks Kevin. I agree, it can be exhausting for those on the receiving end of a bully’s attention. But within an organisation they need to take it seriously so that people don’t feel they have no option but to move on. But I can’t argue with your answer, Kevin, we also need to look after our own mental health and sometimes that does mean moving

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