Practicing Grace

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

Responding to tough personalities and tough situations with GRACE takes practice. Mastery of anything takes determination, knowledge, and conditioning! 


9 Ways to Handle the Bully 

by Toni Lynn Chinoy


Almost every person has experienced the debilitating effects of engaging with a bully. There are many reasons you cannot allow it to continue.  

Bad, controlling, abusive people generally continue to be bad, no matter what rules are in place. 

Bullies also tend to make decisions which reflect their lack of respect for the rules. This can be dangerous for the organization and is often how corrupt choices get made. How many times did the executives of Enron assume that they were the rule makers? 

Why do they get away with it? 

There are many reasons tough personalities are allowed to take an organization down destructive paths. Often they have the rank and others are reticent to take them on because it might seem disrespectful to do so. 

Sometimes there is the perception that any questioning of the Bully's right to rule will end in a difficult and fruitless confrontation. Individuals will often determine that little progress will be made and, as a result, choose not to initiate the confrontation. 

Frequently, when the Bully is not the highest ranking person, others wait for their ranking Leader to take on the Bully and contain his or her behavior. In this circumstance, you will often hear the others complain about how ineffective their leader is in addressing this issue. 

What is often forgotten, amid all the excuses, is that allowing a Bully to get his or her way usually causes the problem to escalate over time. The Bully is reinforced for bad behavior and the style of forcing others to his or her will through obnoxious, disrespectful conduct, becomes habit. 

Attacking the Problem 

Start with an assumption that you must be clever rather than forceful. If the situation is already out of control, you may be dealing with a personality much more comfortable with street fighting behavior than you are. Never attempt to arm wrestle with a Gorilla. 

Assuming that you have decided that it is time to take on this "bad boy" or "bad girl", there are some general rules which will be very helpful. 

First Rule: Stick to the issue at hand. The most effective way Bullies manipulate others is by diverting any discussion away from the issue to something divisive and insulting to you. Calmly bring the discussion back repeatedly to the issue you would like addressed. 

Second Rule: Stick to the principles and values you believe in. A key to managing a Bully over time is to strongly and consistently assert your sense of right and wrong at the most basic level. The more they assume that you are weak regarding what you believe in, the more they will press into your boundaries. 

Third Rule: Have a vision for the outcome for any and every issue. If you know where you want to go, and why, you leave the Bully less room to maneuver. 

Fourth Rule: Make the right things easy. Make the wrong things difficult.
Example: "I am sure that you too agree that we do not want to do something that would make us look like we were taking advantage of the organization's current weakness!" This kind of statement makes it difficult for the Bully not to do the right thing. Bullies like to think that no one sees them when they are being really bad. If you make a statement that states what "bad" is, you have just made them visible. 

Fifth Rule: Don't give away your power. Whining about how bad it is, is giving away your power. If you are the victim, the first and most difficult thing to recognize is that it is not the bully who must change. He or she is less likely to change than you are. 

Sixth Rule: Never underestimate how "low" the Bully is prepared to go. Do not be surprised or become emotional. That is naive. You will lose ground when you get caught up in "how dare he?" He dares. Expect it! 

Seventh Rule: Never allow anyone to hold you hostage because of his or her power or knowledge or influence. The bully will escalate his or her ability to frustrate you the minute you back off. Be prepared to risk it all, early. He or she will rarely take you up on it. 

Eighth Rule: Take on the behavior early, not late. Be ready to be firm, not ugly in order to move through an issue. Bullies are cowards. Did you ever know a truly confident person who had to bully others to get his or her way? 

Ninth Rule: Strong personalities hate weakness. Bullies bully because they can. If you are a victim, the bully is a reflection of your insecurities. Sometimes, otherwise nice people, turn into bullies when they are turned off by a person's weak or needy behavior. 

Toni Lynn Chinoy has written multiple texts on leadership, bullies, power games and more. She is the founder of Harlan-Evans, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in effective organizational change and coaches senior leaders on how to respond to crisis. Her book, Handling Critical Moments with Grace which takes the reader through many examples of how to handle critical, life defining moments with GRACE, can be found, along with her other books on the Harlan-Evans, Inc. web site leadership books

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"Practicing Grace is a completely different way of looking at situations that, when practiced well, is like your own secret weapon!"

Susan Schmitt, Senior VP Human Resource, Rockwell Automation

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