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7 Steps to Beating Up a Bully Without Throwing a Punch

beatingHow many bullies do you know? Twenty percent of the people cause eighty percent of the problems, but the one who causes the most problems for people is what is referred to as the “bully,” the aberrant, petulant egomaniac. These are the hostile aggressive, the loudmouths, the exploders and the unpredictables; the Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes of the workplace.

beatingHow many bullies do you know? Twenty percent of the people cause eighty percent of the problems, but the one who causes the most problems for people is what is referred to as the “bully,” the aberrant, petulant egomaniac. These are the hostile aggressive, the loudmouths, the exploders and the unpredictables; the Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes of the workplace. They start off behaving one way and then without warming shift. Sound familiar? Work with anyone like that?

Bullies and manipulative people crave being right. They try to induce fear in others to create the illusion of power.
Bullies:

  • Search for justification of their anger
  • Need to be the ones who know
  • Create a false sense of power
  • Hide their insecurities
  • Have to be right

To hide their internal fear, even from themselves, bullies must try to prove and manifest their personal power. This need leads to behavior such as yelling, intimidation, ordering and demanding. Here are seven ways you can deal with this type of hostile behavior:

1. Stand Your Ground:
Be assertive. Never cower to them; it gives them permission to continue. Don’t argue; it gives them justification for being hostile. Instead, calmly and neutrally look them in the eye and say, “What do you suggest we do?” or “How can we move this forward?” Let them know that you are not yielding, but at the same time don’t yell or be hostile back- doing so justifies their behavior and encourages them to continue. Be firm, but not aggressive.

2. Speak With Awareness:
What you say will be less important than how you say it. Notice your tone and their reaction. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you are in charge. Be aware that they will react to how you react to them.

3. Keep Your Power:
The most important thing you can do is to keep your dignity. Tell yourself “There is no greater fool than the one who listens to the opinion of others and gives up the certainty of his own.” Your assessment of yourself is the only one that matters.

4. Address the Solution, Not the Emotion
Don’t ask if they are angry or tell them to calm down. There more your focus on their emotion, the longer they will stay in it. You can acknowledge it without swimming in it by saying something like. “I’m sorry if what I said upset you. It was not my intention. (Pause) Now what’s our next step?” If they aren’t ready to come down, feel free to tell them you will have to discuss it later.

5. Be Compassionate With You:
We all struggle to be the best we can with the knowledge we have. Realize that their knowledge is Neanderthal and may one day catch up, but that for the moment it’s all they’ve got. Say to yourself “I’m a notch higher on the food chain and I don’t need to rub it in.” and let the frustration of their idiosyncrasies’ melt away.

6. Don’t Gossip:
Gossiping is more demeaning for the person who’s speaking than for the one being spoken about. Talking about who did what when creates subtle distrust between the two parties. If you want a solution, ask for it and discuss it; if you want to talk about it talk to yourself.

7. Don’t Encourage It:
The best way to encourage apelike behavior is to give it right back. It will be tempting, but don’t do it. Once you show then that you aren’t playing the game, they will look for someone else who will. The best way to not encourage them is to simply remain neutral unaffected by their five year old moves (avoid defensiveness), and move into outcome.

No matter what kind of person you are dealing with, the key is to deal with yourself first. Somebody is getting along with them. Find out what that person does and apply it to your own interactions with the bully. If what you are doing doesn’t work, do something different. Remember the definition of insanity (same thing expect different result). Keep your sanity and you’ll beat up the bully without blinking every time!