Why It is Important to Stop Verbal Abuse in the Workplace

verbal abuse in the workplace

From school to college, we always wished bullies would disappear from my life. But sadly, they are common in the workplace as well. Almost everyone has gone through bullies at work, including verbal abuse. Verbal abuse in the workplace can demotivate and can have a severe impact mentally and physically on a person. If you or someone you know is dealing with workplace abuse, then it’s time to take some action.

There are many de-escalation courses and training that will teach you how to handle workplace violence effectively and stand up for yourself.

Verbal abuse in the workplace doesn’t have to be insults or shouting. Often, verbal abuse can be more subtle and can be any language that is:

  • Threatening
  • Humiliating
  • Discriminatory
  • Intimidating
  • Degrading
  • Insulting
  • False (i.e., spreading lies about someone)

Other examples of Verbal abuse in the workplace include:

  • Discriminatory languages such as racial insults or degrading language about gender, sexual orientation, or ability
  • Sexually harassing languages such as sexual preference, comments about someone’s physical appearance, or discussion of sex or sexual acts
  • Calling out someone’s poor performance in front of boss or colleagues
  • Shouting, yelling, or screaming
  • Spreading lies or gossip about someone in the office
  • Blaming a co-worker about something they didn’t do
  • Verbally minimizing or dismissing issues about the workplace
  • Discouraging or interrupting colleagues
  • Threats about personal property or safety

How do you know if you are being verbally abused?

It can be difficult to pin down an abusive behavior and get the bully punished because people have different personalities and different levels of tolerance. While one person might be okay with the same situation, others might fear coming to work and be ready to quit.

How to handle verbal abuse at the workplace?

You need first to understand that the verbal abuse and bullying you are suffering are not your fault. It’s not because you are bad at your job, rather it doesn’t have to do anything with you at all.

Furthermore, distinguish between what is actually happening to you is not normal and is actually abuse. Don’t let it go by convincing yourself by saying, “oh, they must be having a bad day,” to justify their behavior.

Start by talking to the person about their behavior. Tell them that you don’t like their behavior and they are being abusive. They may try to laugh it off, or they may even take it seriously. You can even secretly tape their behavior, i.e., incidents of abuse, and show it to them to make them realize what they are doing. You can also tell them that you will be forced to talk about this issue to the supervisor/HR if they continue the behavior.

There are experts who can help you fight such situations and make you mentally and physically prepared. If you are not the victim, but seeing someone abuse your colleague, it’s time to support the one being abused. You never know; they might want support or someone to talk to.


Violence is never the solution. Verbal abuse in the workplace is not a problem to be ignored and is a serious matter which needs attention. If you or someone you know is dealing with workplace abuse, talk to the abuser or take the matter with a higher authority. You can also talk to counseling experts who can build your confidence to handle such people.