Ask Mary Jo: Handling a workplace bully; Getting husband to pick up his underwear

Hi Mary Jo,

Can you please tell me how to handle the workplace bully? Is it better to confront them or is it better to ignore the instigating done by them?

Thank you, Sue

Dear Sue,

Workplace bullying is 4 times more common than sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job. Most of the workplace bullying happens because workplaces don’t provide education about handling it nor do they seem to see it. However, blindness to the problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Targets of workplace bullying report high levels of stress, sleep disturbance, depression, reduced productivity, and absenteeism. If you are a victim of workplace bullying, here are suggestions that work the most effectively.

  1. Speak up. No one should feel unsafe or bullied in the workplace.
  2. Lend support to other targets besides yourself. When someone is bullied and others don’t come to their aid, cliques and ideas of superiority form in the workplace. This lowers morale and productivity within the company.
  3. If you’re comfortable, speak with the bully in private but directly about behaviors you’ve seen. This can help you determine if they are willing to understand.
  4. Report it to Human Resources. Request Human Resources document and follow up with the bully. If HR is unresponsive, get in touch with the Whistle Blowers Hotline. You don’t need to be the victim to report it; often the victim is apprehensive to report due to retaliation. The hotline will be very responsive.
  5. Don’t make judgments about the bully. The reasons someone bullies are complicated and varied. Don’t waste your energy analyzing. Use your time to help educate co-workers about bullies and organize programs so it won’t continue in your workplace.

Hi Mary Jo,

After 22 years of marriage, how do I get my husband to start picking up his underwear from the bathroom floor?


Dear Julie,

Unfortunately, there is no one way for everyone. Since this habit has been in place for 22 years, it will be tougher to break. However, trying to have fun with it instead of complaining and becoming critical is always preferred for the health of your marriage. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Don’t pick up his clothes anymore. Instead, tell him you’ll only launder the clothes that are in the hamper. When he runs out of clothes, he’s more likely to get them in the laundry.
  2. You can try a more playful hamper. Some people prefer a basketball hoop on top of the hamper so they can practice their dunking skills with their dirty clothes.
  3. You can begin rewarding dunks of dirty clothes by spending more time feeling like his lover instead of his caretaker. Marriages improve when both partners act responsible in sharing household chores.