Run into any bullies recently?
Maybe I have been living under a rock, but for some reason I always related bullying to the school playground, not to the corporate world. Recently, a friend was describing a situation in his organization that involves a bully. As the conversation continued it struck me how painful, frustrating and confusing this situation was to my friend. The most amazing part of his story was that this was not a one-time occurrence. The bully struck often, chose many different targets, usually landed “direct hits” and no one seemed to be doing anything about it. The advised response was to just “learn how to deal with it” because the issue and the individual (bully) was not going to be addressed.
The conversation with my friend got me thinking more about bullies. I wonder: How should you respond to bullies, especially if you are not in the position or have the authority to implement any discipline?
In researching this topic, I found an article called “How To Deal with an Adult Bully” by Dr. Anthony Fiore, “The Anger Coach“, that has some good insight into how to deal with a bully. I encourage you to read the full article, but here is my synopsis of what Dr. Fiore surmises from a particular case study.
Tactics Of The Adult Bully
“…emotional bullying occurs when someone tries to gain control by making others feel angry or afraid.” Bullying is often characterized by yelling, name-calling, sarcasm, mocking, putting down, belittling, embarrassing or just physically or verbally intimidating behaviors.
Bullies Often Have Personality Disorder
Bullies have a deep sense of insecurity about themselves. They completely lack empathy or the ability to perceive how they are negatively affecting others. They honestly don’t see themselves as the problem and are constantly in dismay when others around them are devastated or offended by their behavior.
Can Bullies Change?
Dr. Fiore states that, while research shows that “most bullies are unable to make deep changes to their personality, they are sometimes able to modify their behavior to the extent that they are more tolerable. Usually, the motivation to change is inspired by outside influences such as employers, spouses, or children.”
Four Ways To Cope
Dr. Fiore recommends the following responses to bullying:
- Focus on the positive attributes of the bully and try to ignore the negative parts.
- Be confident and look your bully in the eye. Speak in a calm and clear voice while asserting yourself by naming the behavior you don’t like and state what is expected instead.
- Create a distraction or change the subject. Try using humor or a well chosen word to disarm the bully.
- Give the bully’s ego what it needs.
So the next time you encounter the “bully” keep these tips in mind. You cannot control the behavior of others. However, you can control your own response.
Just for fun, watch “Mr. Monk and the Bully“, episode from the USA series “Monk”. Use the link below.