What do you do when someone you depend on must be gone and you have to pick up the slack? Typical scenarios when this happens include termination, vacation, downsizing or personal crisis.
To read the rest of this article from the Business First of Columbus, see:
Surviving crises while that crucial someone is gone
For example, Brad and Harry had been partners for years and depended on each other daily. When Brad’s father had a stroke and went into a coma, Brad’s work life stopped but Harry’s didn’t. Harry had to do both their tasks. But how could he complain when Brad rushed to be at his father’s side? Brad knew Harry would understand.
As days stretched into weeks, Harry became overwhelmed. But he certainly didn’t want his weaknesses to burden Brad, who had “more important” things on his mind.
Some bullying spouses, abusive extended-family members, people you call friends, bullies in school and bullies at work will try to pressure you to do what they want; to do what they think is right. And they’ll have their “good” reasons in order to justify why you should do what they want. And if you don’t do things their way, they’ll be angry, try to get other people to pressure you or try to force you by threatening to shun you or to hold that grudge forever.
So how can you think of the situation so you’re free to do what you want? And what can you do?
You decide who gets to vote on your choices.
You might allow some decisions be decided by majority vote but there are others in which you want only yourself and your spouse to vote. Common examples in which not everyone should vote are in the planning of events – who gets invited to weddings or graduation or holiday parties. Other examples might be what you do on vacation or what you do for work and where or who you date after your beloved, long-term spouse dies or what you do with your retirement.
There are moments of truth for each of us when we test other people: do they try to beat us into submission to do things their way or do they encourage us to follow our soul’s direction even after they’ve offered advice to go in a different direction?
How do you know you’re being given advice or facing arm-twisting?
If you don’t take advice, the relationship goes on as before. If you don’t take arm-twisting, you’ll son face a head-lock.
Don’t let anyone beat you into submission; not parents or children or friends.
Don’t allow your life to be a debate to figure out the “Right” way to do things, with the rule being majority rules. Don’t give people power over your choices.
If you argue on a bully’s grounds, you’ve already lost. Once you’ve started arguing with someone expressing their opinion, you’ve already agreed that they get to vote and you can’t do what you want unless they give you permission to. But you’ll never convince some people to allow you go your own way when it’s not their way.
If you want to listen to someone’s ideas but not allow them to vote, you can say, “You can share what you would do or how things seem to you, but I won’t discuss, debate or argue what’s ‘right’ or ‘best.’ I’ll make my own decisions.” That will clarify what you’re going to do.
However, be prepared for them to harass and pressure you, and try to beat you into submission anyway. If you allow them to control your life, why should they stop arguing? That’s when you can say, “If you want to try to beat me into submission, I’ll stop talking with you. My life is not a democratic vote.”
But what if they threaten to vent their anger forever or never to see you again?
This is a wonderful opportunity to clarify who you’ll allow on your “isle of song.” This is a wonderful opportunity for you to decide what counts more, good behavior or bullying blood.
This is a moment of truth for you: you get to decide, as an adult, what values, attitudes and beliefs to you want to have in your life. Even more, you get to decide which values are more important when some of those values conflict or are even mutually exclusive.
Some bullying bosses are overt. They yell, micromanage, criticize relentlessly, make personal remarks, are never satisfied and never promote staff.
Other bullies are more covert.
For example, Abby controls her team by making quick decisions and immediately shifting into action. If you stop to deliberate, she’ll become exasperated and question your intelligence. Because she’s in a hurry, few people get consulted in advance and things are always done her way. Once she’s made up her mind, she won’t change direction.
On the other hand, Alex moves with great deliberation and caution. He’s just as controlling as Abby, but in the opposite way. He wants to chew and digest all the details before he’ll decide. If you want to move rapidly, he’ll become exasperated and question your intelligence and good judgment. Because he controls the snail’s pace, few people even bother making input anymore.
If he doesn’t want to implement a plan, he’ll say he needs endless information and reflection. Usually, his deliberations push so hard against deadlines that everyone has to work hectically at the last minute, including weekends. He doesn’t mind because he’s still in control.
Alex tries to control his managerial peers by delaying decisions. His arguments defending deliberation and caution can be very persuasive. No one wants to be labeled “thoughtless or careless.”
People who are concerned with making good decisions will adjust their processes and timing to fit the situation. Some decisions can be made with extensive input and deliberation, while others demand unilateral and rapid action. Each style can be successful or have disastrous consequences, depending on the situation.
The rapid responses of many small businesses secured them productive niches while corporate goliaths deliberated. Similarly, decisions made in the blink of an eye – based on accurate intuition, the hair standing up on the back of your neck or a wrenching in your gut – can save your life or business. If you wait for proof, it will be too late.
But, of course, we don’t want someone building a bridge or an airplane based on snap decisions.
Be warned: Abby and Alex’s covert, controlling techniques are used just as much between couples in personal life and in family businesses. However, the same mindset and methods that work to manage peers in corporate life can be effective in those more personal situations.
How you cope with bullies using these styles depends on whether you’re a peer, a supervisee or a supervisor – see complete article for details.
Company rules and employees who follow them are essential for the success of your business. But antagonistic “rule-people” can reduce team effort and sabotage your operations.
To read the rest of this article from the Denver Business Journal, see:
How to deal with antagonistic ‘rule people’ in the workplace
See everything in black and white, need all procedures and boundaries clearly defined and labeled, with rewards and consequences spelled out exactly – no gray areas and no choices. They need uniformity and repeatability, can’t handle ambiguity, uncertainty and what they perceive as mixed messages.
Insist on clear titles and privileges. They want to know everyone’s exact job description, authority, responsibility and accountability. They can’t handle matrix management – multiple reporting and task relationships.
Use authority and experts to back up their opinions.
Don’t like change unless they can see immediate and obvious advantages.
Need closure, want decisions made and set in stone, even if nothing has to be begun for years.
Compare themselves with everybody on every criterion.
Relate only through power dynamics – command, control and obeying orders. They’re bullies. They don’t get things done through relationships or by simply pitching in. They need to know where everyone stands. They’re more comfortable knowing they’re on the bottom, than wondering where they are.
We all follow the rules sometimes, but “Edna” is a good example of an antagonistic rule-person. She uses the rules to intimidate people and advance herself at the expense of your supervisory authority and departmental productivity. For example:
Other typical examples of rule-people in crucial roles are human resource and financial managers, and administrative assistants.
To work with an antagonistic, rule-person, you’ll have to:
Be exacting and clear about rules, and demand what you need specifically in writing.
Be prepared to be challenged if you treat the rule-person differently from anyone else.
Include “professional, team behavior” rules – specific, detailed behaviors, not abstractions or attitudes – as important components in performance evaluations.
Clearly label your actions; indirect cues, kindly suggestions, informal messages or casual conversations will not be counted as important. You must say, “This is a verbal warning” or “This is a disciplinary action.” Antagonistic, rule-people take any softening to mean that your feedback doesn’t have to be acted on.
When they excuse their bad behavior with innocuous labels like, “It was a misunderstanding,” or “I’m just an honest person,” you must re-label it clearly as unprofessional. For example: “Yelling or name calling is not a misunderstanding or honesty. Neither is acceptable behavior at this organization, no matter how you feel.”
Generally, rule-people who want to help can become good managers and administrators, but they won’t be outstanding leaders. They can oversee repeatable operations, but they won’t be able to act creatively and appropriately in the face of uncertainty, novel problems and risk.
Good leaders need a “cabinet,” which is a senior team responsible for carrying out decisions and implementing plans.
But what about your “kitchen cabinet” – a smaller group of trusted associates; an inner circle that helps you confidentially speculate about possible directions, make difficult decisions or deal with sensitive issues in the workplace? Do you know who to bring into your kitchen cabinet? And who to exclude?
Most senior teams, or cabinets, have five to 15 people. You might call these teams your “strategic team,” but they usually become more tactical because members tend to focus on day-to-day operations and functions, and jockey for turf and power.
They trust you enough that when you don’t tell them everything, they assume you have good reasons.
They don’t gossip but, instead, maintain confidentiality; especially when they disagree with the value of plans you’re contemplating or have decided on.
If you’ve inherited a senior leadership team and a kitchen cabinet, you’ll still have to form your own. That’ll cause some hurt feelings and you may have turnover. But that’s much better than opening up to the wrong people or trying to operate without an effective kitchen cabinet.
I attended a wonderful presentation on cyberbullying and sexting by an officer from a local police department. The question came up about spying on our teenagers’ phones and computers: “Do our teenagers have a right to privacy?” That was followed by the question: “If we spy on our teens, how can they consider us friends? They’ll never open up to us. Won’t that thwart our efforts?”
Let’s distinguish between two types of threats to our teenagers:
Adult predators who lure them and groom them – whether to exploit them or to gain personal, family information to use against their parents.
Other teens who will slam them, cyberbully them and share sexted pictures.
Although most parents worry about the first situation, most kids worry about the second or will blow it off as “Drama.” But the answer is the same in either case.
Teenagers have no privacy. I want us to know what our kids are doing so we can help them. We’ve been there and done that and have more wisdom, even though they don’t think so. If we don’t have wisdom, we should make learning a first priority.
As long as they’re dependent on us and we’re responsible for them, we must know. They may be more technically savvy but we can learn enough. That’s what our friends are for.
In addition, of course, we can be alert to the first signs of cyberbullying. Have they withdrawn or stopped eating, being with friends, or wanting to go to school? Have they become emotionally labile (mood swings, happy, crying, excited, depressed, angry, hysterical all in 10 seconds)? Do they engage in negative self-talk and put-downs? Do they lack self-confidence and self-esteem? Are they changing everything in order to get friends or please boy or girlfriends? Are they anxious, stressed, not sleeping?
When they accuse us of not trusting them, we already know the answers:
It’s not about trust; it’s about experience, wisdom and safety.
They’ve hidden, lied and deceived us before and will do so again. Of course we don’t trust them, just like our parents shouldn’t have trusted us.
It’s about which risks we’ll allow them to take and which we won’t.
When they insist that they’re old enough to make their own decisions, we also know the answer to that: “When you’re capable of supporting yourself and living independently, then you’re old enough to be responsible for yourself.
As for their opening up because we’re their friends; how many of us opened up to our parents – or would have if they tried to be our friends? We thought we could or had to solve things on our own or we knew better than to open up.
Whether we physically check phone and computer logs or we also use spyware, we must take the initiative. If they don’t like it, they don’t need a phone. Also, we should take steps to find out about their friends and what their friends’ parents allow or encourage.
Unfortunately, too many examples can be found in the headlines of what happen when parents don’t know what their teens are doing.
Do we have to decide that a bully is bad, evil and unredeemable in order to stop them or get them out of our lives? Do we have to be judgmental in order to act – to kick someone out of school, to divorce someone, to sever a relationship, to put someone in prison?
Many people think they’d have to be much too judgmental and punitive in order to act. After all, we don’t know the heart of someone since we can’t really walk in their shoes, and we don’t know who can be transformed or redeemed.
But is that way of looking at bullies true or useful?
I think that those are the wrong questions. They’re not questions that will help us; instead they get us into unanswerable philosophic discussions.
I think more useful questions are: “What actions from whom are we willing to have in our environment? What are we willing to do to remove people who act in ways that are painful, demeaning, denigrating, abusive and bullying?”
If or when bullies change their behavior, we can decide how many times we have to see them act decently or over how long a span before we give them more chances to get close. Or maybe, we’ll never let them get close again.
We’re not required to share time and space with anyone now, no matter what our previous relationship was or how much they want to see us now. Their desire to date us doesn’t alter our freedom to say, “Not interested. Go be happy somewhere else.”
We don’t have to have good, logical reasons. We don’t have to figure out what the “Right” action is. We don’t have to justify our decisions. We can just be with the people we feel like because we want to.
It’s not a judgment about them; it’s about how compatible we feel or the dangers and risks we want to take or just because “We wanna or we don’t wanna.” And we get total control over these choices because it’s about us; not them. There are no outside rules or social codes that force us to do what we’re not comfortable with.
So keep it simple. No great philosophical questions; no questions about character, identity or future possibilities, no questions about good or evil, no questions about future possibilities of redemption: only questions about the behavior we want in our personal environment or the behavior we won’t tolerate.
With expert coaching and consulting, we can overcome the voices of our fears and self-bullying. We can overcome childhood rules and simply take charge of our personal choices. We can become strong and skilled enough to resist being coerced by bullies into doing what we don’t want. We can look at individual situations and plan tactics that are appropriate to us and to the situation.
“How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” has many examples of adults getting over their early training and creating the environment and life they want. For more personalized coaching call me at 877-8Bullies (877-828-5543).
Stopping bullying by toxic parents and grandparents is only one side of the coin. The other side is to stop bullying of parents by adult children who are toxic users and abusers.
I’ll focus on the adult children who:
Make poor decisions and try bully their parents to bail them out time after time.
Still yell at or even hit their middle-aged parents just like they did when they were teenagers.
Extort money from their parents in return for allowing them to see the grandchildren.
I won’t go into the abuse of elderly or senile parents, nor into situations in which the child is disabled or retarded and will need parental care for life.
For parents, this is one of the most heart-wrenching situations; to see that your adult children are:
Still incompetent and failing.
Still trying to manipulate or coerce you, long after they should have become independent and work to get what they want from the world.
Of course we parents think we’re at fault. We can self-bully until we feel guilt and shame. “Where did we go wrong?” And of course those selfish, manipulative children try to increase those feelings so that we’ll continue giving them what they want.
Although it’s now too late to begin when your children were young, getting an idea about what we could have done then might help us now.
Parenting experts for the last generation have falsely assumed and wrongly encouraged people to think that if they kept protecting their immature, irresponsible children from consequences and kept giving them infinite second changes, the children would eventually mature and develop confidence, self-respect and self-esteem. They would become competent and independent adults.
Of course, a few children do change and become responsible when they’re coddled. But this strategy encourages most children to remain weak and needy, expecting to be supported for life if they’re in trouble. The best way to produce spoiled brats (at any age) is to give them what they want.
Instead, you must not let your heart guide your actions. You must let them fail and bear the consequences, no matter how hard. You must keep reminding them that they will need to take care of themselves; they will be dependent on their own judgment and effort. This is not an all-or-none shift. There should be a gradual shift as they pass from elementary school to middle or junior high school.
In a loving and firm way, encourage them to learn how the world works and to do their best, but stop protecting them. I think of that in the same way I think of helping plants get hardy enough to survive in temperate zones – we leave them out longer and longer in chilly nights.
Don’t use the word, “supportive;” it’s too non-specific. Be specific; give them encouragement to work hard and live poor if they can’t do better. But don’t be a friend, don’t be a bank, don’t be a 7-11.
As for the shame and guilt you might feel because the children didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped; give it up. They have free will. By the time they’re adults they make their own choices. Truthfully, how much success did any of us have giving advice to teenagers? They listen to their own drumbeat; just like we did, whether our parents liked it or not.
So what can we do now? The same thing we should have done back then: cut them off economically. Ignore promises; behavior counts. Give your treats to the independent, self-supporting children who don’t need them. Don’t give them to the irresponsible children who depend on and demand them.
Make a family rule: we get together to have a good time, not to straighten each other out, or review our bank balances, or complain, whine or blame. Keep offering fun when you get together. Stop offering advice or money.
Of course, your heart will bleed, but keep that to yourself. Worry, cry and pray in private. Remind them that it’s their lives and they have to succeed on their own.
With the grandchildren, we have two paths. The first is to remain firm and suffer the consequences when they withhold the grandchildren. We all know the truth about blackmail and extortion: bullies raise the price and there will be no end to it. If they deny you access to the grandchildren; write, call, send presents and keep records. You’ll make your case when the grandchildren turn 18.
The second path is to purchase time with your beloved grandchildren in hopes that you can have an effect on them so they won’t turn out like your children did. Expect the price in money and abuse of you to increase with time. Unfortunately, the grandchildren usually learn to hold you up for what they want.
There is no instant and easy cure. Your children have free will. They have chosen and can continue to choose to be weak and irresponsible. You didn’t cause it, although you might have enabled it by giving them too much. They can try to drag you under when they flail around because they think they’re drowning. Don’t let them drag you under.
Praise, defend and give the best presents or position in the Will to their favorite child.
Put down the rest of the children or designate one as the scapegoat.
Ignore the faults of one child while continually criticizing the other children.
Cater to the whims of the favorite child and blame other children who resist.
Of course, I’m not talking about the situation where one child has an illness or disability that requires lifetime care, although even in this case, parents can use the rest of the children to serve the needs of the most needy. Some parents even decide to have a second child as an organ donor. I’m talking about the situations in which the children are basically okay, but one is selected as the favorite.
In some cultures the favored child is the son who will inherit everything while the daughters are raised to serve the ruling male. You can hear them say, “If only you did what your brother wants, we’d have peace and be a loving family.”
Other families label one sister as the “good child” who is held up as a paragon of virtue or success impossible for the other daughters to reach. You know who the “bad” or “failures” daughters are. You can hear the parents say, “Ah, if only you were as loving, kind and good as your sisters.”
Sometimes, one child is favored because mom and/or dad think that child is the sensitive one. His feelings count more than everyone else’s. Therefore, they say, we must organize our schedules and plans around the wishes of that child. “After all,” they say, “We wouldn’t want to disappoint your brother or hurt his feelings.”
The situation is even worse when the favorite children know they can get away with anything and use the power to bully and torment the other children. You recognize all those sarcastic remarks that have hidden meanings and can drive you crazy.
But no matter how hard you’ve tried, no matter what good deeds you’ve performed or sacrifices you’ve made, eventually you realize that nothing you do will ever be good enough. The favorite daughter’s wish that they could do more or slightest effort will be counted and praised more than yours.
These situations are tough because they’re based on hidden feelings and attitudes, and because they’ve been going on for decades. It feels natural by now; “It’s just the way we do it.”
Some typical steps people use to get free from the domination of the family by one sibling are:
Inner commitment to break the pattern even if that means going your own way. Stop your negative self-talk; it’ll create self-doubt and destroy your confidence and self-esteem. It’s not your fault. It’s about them and their decision to favor one child over the others. Your goal can’t be to change their behavior; that’s often impossible. Your goal is to stand your ground so you can create your own island of good cheer if you have to.
Give people a chance by telling them, in private, what you plan to do. Line up allies if there are any to be had. Plan specific actions so you can support each other effectively.
Plan tactics carefully. Pick your fights selectively; don’t fight about everything. You know what’s likely to happen. What will you say or do in response?
Stay calm. Ignore the little snide comments and put downs that used to drive you crazy. Don’t argue about the details or the old family history. Don’t debate who is more worthy or who has suffered the most. Simply state your needs, standards and decisions.
Expect the bullies to spin the story their way, lie and go behind your back to create alliances and pressure groups. Prepared to be blamed, labeled and shunned. Prepare to be cut out of the Will.
Be persistent. Have real consequences, like not attending or like leaving early. Words, arguments and logic don’t count; only actions count. Stand your ground.
Prepare to be surprised. Often, families will accommodate the most stubborn and difficult person, whether they’re right and fair or not. You may have to be more stubborn than anyone else.