President Obama held a White House conference in March to discuss ways to prevent bullying in school. But bullying is a problem not just among young people. Workplace bullying can involve threats, baseless criticism, discrimination and favoring some employees unfairly over others. Thirty-five percent of Americans in a survey said they had been bullied at some time at work. The poll by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute found that another fifteen percent have witnessed it. What some workers consider bullying by another worker or a supervisor might not always be true. But experts say productivity suffers in workplaces where employers tolerate or accept bullying. People take sick leave more often. Some take legal action. Jennifer Sandberg is a law partner in the Atlanta offices of Fisher & Phillips. She represents companies in labor cases. She says employers can avoid most problems simply by acting in a professional, businesslike way.In her words, “The best advice I can give to managers and supervisors is not to worry about the law, but to be sure that their behavior is professional.”She says this means that everyone plays by the same set of rules. She points out that “there are still basic rules that every single person in an organization needs to follow.”People who bully spend less time on productive work. They can make the workplace tense and unhealthy.Author and executive coach Lauren Mackler calls it a “toxic” environment. She advises people to avoid emotional conflict and child-like reactions when faced with insulting criticisms. She also says people who show self-respect can be less likely targets of a bully. She gives examples like dressing well and looking people in the eye when talking to them.And Lauren Mackler advises people who feel bullied to consider how the bully got that way. She says bullies were often bullied themselves as children. In her words, “That’ll help you to have more compassion inside instead of judging the person and further feeding a toxic interaction.”But bullying can cause some people to leave their job. Ms. Mackler says replacing experienced workers can cost one and a half times their yearly pay, or even more.In April of two thousand ten, Australia’s Productivity Commission considered the cost of bullying in a report on workplace safety. The lowest estimate of the cost to the Australian economy ten years ago was six to thirteen billion dollars. For VOA Special English, I’m Alex Villarreal. You can read and listen to our programs on business and other subjects at voaspecialenglish.com. Click on The Classroom link for interactive exercises. And join us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English.