How To Handle Work Place Bullies

Bullies are scary, shocking, embarrassing and far too often tolerated in the workplace. Why? Because we don’t want to have to deal with them, we don’t want the attack, the conflict, the discomfort. So we either pretend they aren’t wreaking havoc or we grit our teeth and tolerate them.

It’s time to stop. Here’s how!

Set up a new system with healthy boundaries and behaviors (rich with safety, belonging, mattering and shifting from tension to empowerment.)

Note that if the bully is above you on the org chart you’ll need a mentor equal or greater in stature to the bully to do the following.

Our clients love our conflict resolution process below (bullies or not):

  1. Set the stage – explain why you’re meeting and the outcome you want (to form a collaborative turnaround plan)
  2. State observable data/behavior – this is where you describe specific behaviors that must change and examples so the bully can “step into” the past scenarios
  3. Describe impact – the damage that these behaviors are doing to others/the company/the bully themselves
  4. Check problem acknowledgement – do they agree that there is a problem? Do they agree this problem now must end?
  5. Co-create a plan – set a time period (30-60 days) where you’ll meet weekly for 15-30 minutes to track their progress on releasing the challenging behaviors identified above. Make the plan very specific in terms of what you need to see and when you’ll know you got the outcome you wanted (see Outcome Frame above). If the turnaround doesn’t occur, state clearly what the consequences will be (lose job, etc).
  6. Check understanding – is everything clear? Anything else we need to cover? Reiterate desire for a positive resolution so the consequences can become irrelevant.
  7. Build small agreements – launch the plan and commit to ending the conflict once and for all. Be sure to track it frequently and make sure all concerned see the behavior change too.

Try this proven process and let us know how it goes!

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