Top Tactics of Workplace Bullies

Thought your bullying days were behind you when you left the schoolyard? You thought wrong. Bullying is a major issue in workplaces across Canada.

Part of the reason it’s so frustrating is that most tactics used by bullies are very strategic and hard to prove. The perpetrators are also typically sociable and charming, which makes them even harder to deal with when you are the victim.

Here are some of the main tactics used by office bullies.


Being left out in any social situation is no fun, but it can be unbearable when it constantly happens at work. Common examples are holding meetings without you or going for after work drinks or lunch with everyone in the office and purposely not inviting you. There can also be more covert tactics such as giving you the silent treatment or constantly dismissing your thoughts and feelings.


This is one of the hardest types of tactics to deal with because it involves more than one bully. It’s when multiple people come together and target one person in the workplace. This usually starts with one bully who encourages others to turn against you. Mobbing often includes spreading rumours or gossiping to encourage the mob mentality and can be completely isolating.


Making sure you never succeed is a common tactic used by bullies, especially when they have power over you and are willing to abuse it. They may take steps to ensure a project you’re working on fails, assign you impossible tasks, accuse you of insubordination or make false accusations about you. They can sometimes even encourage you to quit.


Technology is a great asset, but it’s also a common tool for bullies. The truth is that almost any type of bullying that can be done in person can also be done online. Whether it’s posting pictures of events you’ve been excluded from, sending you harassing messages or coworkers having ‘secret’ conversations about you – cyberbullying is a top tactic in the modern workplace.


This can be one of the most infuriating tactics use by bullies. It’s demeaning and there isn’t much you can do about it – especially if they’re in a position of power. Condescension can range from small snarky comments to outright yelling and screaming in front of the whole office. It all usually has to do with criticizing any ideas or input you have and making sure you feel belittled. 

What to Do

Document Everything

Keep a journal of the incidents you experience. If the bully is sending you harassing texts, emails or any form of online messages keep all of them. This is concrete proof that you’re being bullied.  

Tell Someone

Of course, the best person to tell is an HR representative, but if you don’t have an HR department try telling someone you trust or a superior you think would be able to help. 


This one is easier said than done but according to research, this is the key first step. The longer the bullying persists the more likely it will get worse. 

You Are Not Alone

This is one of the most important things to remember throughout the process. Studies show that one out of every four workers will experience bullying. 

Bullying is a huge issue in the workplace as it causes the entire culture to become toxic. When no one is taking control or advocating for workers rights – it becomes an even bigger problem. No one should have to experience bullying in the workplace and understanding the tactics is one of the first steps in dealing with it. 

We're here to help

Do you have any questions about your rights in the workplace or need someone to talk to about your job stress? Contact one of our free labour counsellors at (403) 259-4608 or

The Distress Line is a great resource to call if you are feeling overwhelmed and need someone to talk to. 

You can contact them at 403.266.HELP (4357) in Calgary, 
780-482-HELP (4357) in Edmonton and 1-800-232-7288 in rural areas.

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