Leadership Challenges: What to do with the Big Bad Bully?

Workplace Bullying

Has anyone out there never been bullied? Please raise your hand. Then send me an email. I want to know your secret…

Has anyone out there ever come up against a bully and change the blame game of “He did it, she did it, they did it” to one of “we resolved the mess?

Raise your hand and then send me an email. I want to know your secret…

Bully Flashback

For the rest of us; take a minute and remember when you met your first bully as a kid. Think about how scared you were. And then write how the situation happened and what you did.

I’ll give you an example: my older brother has grown into a kind and gentle man. However, as a sister almost six years younger who wanted to hang out with him and his really cool friends all the time, I was a pain in the rear.

What the heck does this have to do with leadership?

Keep reading, I promise it will make sense.

Details, Details

One day when I was 5 and he was 10, I would not leave him alone. He and several friends were playing with a chemistry set and he informed me they were making an explosive combination that would shatter me to the far corners of the universe. I persisted, so did he.

He put a “potion on my arm that was meant to burn the skin off…..yikes, what’s a girl to do!

So I ran to my mother, ready for a long hospital stay. Of course my brother got in deep trouble. I played the victim to the hilt. He got sent to his room, the big, bad bully!

My arm, oh yes, it was fine. The potion was a combination of water and sugar. I could have licked it off and been done with it.

I learned an important lesson that day, not one that forwards the action, one that made me play the victim card for years. The victim, that’s the one who knows how to get the rescuer to well, rescue!

Who do you know who has mastered this game at work?

Rebooting Your Psyche

I have had to retrain my brain as an adult. I have had to help multitudes of other retrain their brains. Yes, there are bullies out there in the world, Virginia, and yet, it is not as simple as it seems.

The concept of the persecutor, lovingly known as the bully, is one that meets with wrath and disdain. They are the bad guys who make the good guys, the victims, cower in a corner, until superman or wonder woman shows up, ta da… the rescuer.

So, here is the question:

Who has the power, the bully/persecutor, the victim, or the rescuer?

Anatomy of a Brouhaha

First, let’s look at how the brouhaha starts.

  • Someone says or does something that is downright annoying.
  • Next there is a retaliatory act. Like when I was bugging my brother and he smeared my arm with sugar-water on my arm.
  • Next the rescuer gets involved, in my case it was my mother, let’s call her human resources or management.
  • Then there is finger-pointing, blaming, someone gets punished, my brother sent to his room; often there is a performance improvement plan or if really noisy situation, termination.

It’s a crap shoot; sometimes the bully gets the brunt. Sometimes, it’s the victim. But it’s never the rescuer.

However, they are in a circular drama. And unless each actor in this complex and frustrating play takes responsibility, this triangle of lost productivity gets played out again and again and again.

The Power Seat

Now, who is really in the power place in this drama?

If you answered “the victim,” you win a trip to the island of your choice.

To see where you fit on the bully/victim/rescuer continuum please go to here and take the quiz.

  • You will begin to observe your personal behavior
  • You will be able to make changes in a fast and furious manner that will keep you from ever being bullied again, or ever bully again.

Begin to connect the dots by writing down as many situations from your younger years and the patterned role you played in the family and in school. They are mostly the same. We become comfortable with the early roles we learned for survival and security. Then they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Sadly, most of us would rather be right than happy; and that’s how the repeating and repeating and repeating behavior takes hold.

So, join the millions who are doing the brain-retrain-thing and take on a new, healthy pattern that will open you up to creativity and fun-filled relationships.

Bye-bye bully; bye-bye victim. Hello happiness!

——————–
Sylvia Lafair, PhD. is President, Creative Energy Options, Inc.
She does Workplace Relationships, Conflict Resolution, Exec Coaching & Consulting

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Image Sources: pgbarnes.files.wordpress.com

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