CATHERINE asked: How do you deal with a workplace bully who demeans colleagues, is argumentative and always eager to zero in on someone's mistakes?
FORMER US president Bill Clinton was called 'fat band boy', Hollywood star Kate Winslet was nicknamed 'blubber' and swimming superstar Michael Phelps was constantly teased for his 'sticky-out ears'.
They clearly managed to shrug off the emotional devastation of their early years of bullying to conquer bigger challenges.
That shouldn't be any less inspiration for bully victims in the workplace, although I admit that such aggression can be somewhat innocuous in the workplace compared to a school yard.
A scornful gaze from your cubicle mate, taunting remarks or bad-mouthing from a colleague, or verbal abuse by your boss in front of peers - that's all it takes to turn a peaceful work environment into a hostile, morale-robbing setting.
Bullies do it for many reasons - from cowardice, hurt, insecurity or jealousy - all of which show up their shortcomings, not yours. They aim to discredit their targets, and unfortunately their best friend is your worst enemy - your lack of confidence.
There are several ways to overcome this, but they need some effort.
It may be daunting, but acknowledge the bullying behaviour when it happens and tell the bully to stop immediately, says Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of GMG Group, a recruitment firm.
'Since most bullies strike when the victims are alone, it is only to the victim's advantage that he/she stands up to the bully immediately,' he says.
Ultimately, you can be bullied only if you allow yourself to be bullied. Why relinquish that single biggest god-given right to another, let alone a bully?
It always helps to share your anxiety with someone else, be it a colleague, friend or a counsellor at work. Knowing that someone has your back makes it easy to stand up to intimidation.
While involving another colleague has a potential backlash - things could turn ugly - a more assertive colleague who puts the bully in his rightful place and warns him that his bullying acts will be reported to management if they persist may be helpful, says Mr Goh.
Because it can be covert, it may not be that easy to document these incidents, but nevertheless try to keep a log of them. This is important as it's easy for feelings of anxiety to turn into something abstract, which will make it tough in case you need to lodge an official complaint.
'There's no need for the victims to suffer in silence,' says Mr Goh.
Tell your boss or human resource personnel, armed with a log of such incidences. Bosses and management should realise that bullying saps morale and productivity, so it's as much their problem as it is the victim's.
Perhaps like you, the bully too could benefit from some counselling. Remember, bullies have issues - sometimes, they're bigger than yours.
If you want a fresh take, write in to Senior Correspondent Anita Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org