How To Survive The Office Bully

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Are you being persecuted by a workplace bully? You're not alone. A poll by the Employment Law Alliance, a labor and employment lawyers' group, finds that 44% of Americans say they have suffered abuse at the office.

Many people caught in the clutches of the office tyrant decide to quit, but not everyone has the freedom to job hop. For those who can't escape, Robert Sutton, professor of management at Stanford University and author of a new book: "The No A%$hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't," offers these three techniques for surviving the workplace bully:

Don't blame yourself.
If you are the victim of a workplace tyrant, it's easy to internalize blame and feel helpless. But falling into this negativity trap can take its toll on your health and self-esteem. Instead, Sutton recommends reminding yourself that you are a good person trapped in a bad situation. As he writes, "Research on 'learned optimism' shows that when people view difficulties as temporary and not their fault . . . [it] protects their mental and physical health."

Hope for the best, but be realistic.
You may think that looking on the sunny side is keeping you upbeat, but there are limits. "When you are subjected to mean-spirited people for long stretches of time, unbridled optimism can be dangerous for your spirit and esteem," Sutton writes. Hoping that the office tough guy will change his stripes every time you interact with him is a recipe for constant disappointment, so try to keep your expectations realistic.

Find a safe haven.
It's important to share your feelings with like-minded people in the office. Open communication and mutual support can help buffer you against stress. But remember: Emotions are contagious and bitterness often breeds more bitterness, so don't go overboard with complaining.

By Marshall Loeb