how to help someone being bullied at work

One day I walked into a store to do some grocery shopping.

As soon as I came into the entrance, I saw an elderly man sitting on the bench just inside.  His eyes were far away, his expression scared, as he gripped the handle of his cane with one hand and the front of the bench with the other.

My brain took it in in a second, and told me, something’s not right.  I should see if he’s okay.

I was still crossing the cart area toward his bench, and I became aware of the lady next to him.  She was leaning in, urgently asking him questions in a low voice: was he okay?  Did he need her to call someone? 

In the next second, my mind said, don’t crowd him; you’ll just be in the way.

I immediately took my eyes off of him and walked past.

About twenty minutes later I was filling my cart with baking supplies, and a woman walked past me, talking loudly on her phone.

“There was a man having a heart attack on the bench up front and everybody walked right past him!”

Have you ever felt crushed by regret?

I don’t know how else to explain it.  I looked at all the stuff I’d had time to put in my cart while he was out suffering on the bench, and I wondered why time travel was only an option in movies.


I’ve thought about it a lot since.  Maybe I really would have been in the way.  Maybe the lady with him had it all handled, and trying to direct me would have made it worse.  Maybe he would have felt like he had an audience and gotten more stressed.

Or maybe I could have helped.  Maybe the lady with him would have gotten courage from some back up.  Maybe both of them would have gotten some comfort from knowing people cared. 

But who really knows now.


I think when we react the way I did to a person who needs help, it’s most often not because we don’t want to help them. 

I think we just doubt ourselves.  We doubt our interpretation of the situation.  We don’t know what to do; we’re afraid we’ll do something wrong.


And that made me want to talk about something I initially thought I had no business getting into:

What should we do when someone at work is being bullied?

I wanted to think I would immediately jump in to the rescue, but honestly - after walking past someone having a heart attack on a bench – what if I didn’t?

What if I doubted what I saw?  What if I thought I’d just get in the way?  What if I thought there was nothing I could do?

…And what if you have the same worry as me?

I’m not an expert on this subject; I have no professional training in it; I have zero experience, actually.

But I want to try to help anyway.  I’ve heard that preparation overcomes fear, so I want to get us both prepared.


I did a bunch of research, and I looked around for people who do know what they’re talking about, and what they have to say. 

And I put it all together in this video:


Please watch this and let me know in the comments what your thoughts and ideas are.