At some point in our lives, all of us have experienced bullies on the playground.  We’ve run across them in the workplace, too.  Many of them are now smarter at hiding what they do, which makes recognizing and dealing with them harder. Consider these three workplace bullies:

To read the rest of this article from the Business Journal of Jacksonville, see: Schoolyard thugs morph into wilier workplace bullies

Consider these three workplace bullies: - see original article for details

  • Ed makes you walk on eggshells.  If you disagree with him, don’t give him what he wants or criticize him, he’ll retaliate with dirty looks and anger – or worse.
  • Jane hides her bullying by focusing on what’s fair.  Even though her work is mediocre, she argues that she deserves the same favors the best workers get.
  • Dora proudly lets everyone know she was a victim before and is hypersensitive now.  She grumbles, complains and whines about uncaring treatment, and if her feelings are hurt, she’ll cry and let everyone know how harsh and cruel you were.

Ed, Jane and Dora are bullies who fly below your radar because they’re sneaky, manipulative and coercive instead of overtly intimidating or violent.  They must have their way, on everything, no matter how minor, and they will use any tactics to get it.

Low-flying bullies are more dangerous than traditional playground bullies because their covert behavior masks the destruction they do.  Because you don’t recognize them as bullies, you don’t rally yourself to resist effectively.  You simply live with your frustration.

If you don’t stop their bullying, they’ll do serious damage to you and your organization.

Some early warning signs of low flying bullies:

  • Your “no” isn’t accepted as “no.”  They ignore, overrule or get around your objections.
  • Your standards, priorities and interpretations are less important than theirs.
  • You can’t act until you’ve convinced them that you’re right - and you can never convince them.
  • Your concerns don’t get dealt with - their concerns take precedence.
  • You feel emotionally drained and blackmailed.  You walk on eggshells thinking that if only you behaved better, things would be OK.
  • The more you try to act reasonably, the more you have to give in.

Use a simple behavioral test to recognize them:  What do you have to do to get someone to be a productive partner?  Bullies show you that it takes a fight.

The good news is that once you label their behavior as bullying, you’ll know what you’re up against and can mobilize yourself to think strategically.

Appeasement never works because they’re never satisfied.  Don’t spend your life trying to rehabilitate them unless you’re willing to commit, whole-heartedly and willingly to changing their behavior – no matter how long it takes.

It’s not easy to stop them but you can.  The basic strategy when dealing with bullying behavior is to start negotiating calmly, reasonably and firmly and let their behavior, not their words, tell you how clear and firm you have to be to get them to change.  Become more firm incrementally until you find something that works.  Plan your strategy and tactics as if you’re going to war.  You are.

You’ll have to show them that you are more determined, resolute and resilient – and adjust your strategy.  Most bullies look for easy victims. So, take them on or submit.

See: Recognize Covert Bullies at Work

Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation.  To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.