Dealing with Bullies

Bullies are not just for the playground. They have college degrees and work in the cubicle across from you. Nowadays they can be male or female. Being a man, and the generation I grew up in makes this tougher because standing up to a female bully sometimes just makes you look like a jerk.

Most of us will not even say the word bully, especially as we get older, because it may signal a weakness.

Seth Godin gives some practical advice about dealing with the office bully.

Call her on her behavior (not who she is, but what she does). “I’m sorry, but when you talk to me like that, I’m unable to do good work. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” Then walk out, not in a huff, but with a measure of respect for the person (not the behavior).

Basically, acknowledge the behavior, while not making it personal. The bully wants you to make it personal. That’s what they do.

When I was in grade school, Mike Dant was our bully. After years of intimidation we finally stood up to him. We pelted him with snow balls. One good shot in the ear made him cry. From that day, he became a little more diplomatic.

That’s a reminiscent story, but if we all stopped playing with him that would have worked also.

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