Bullying is “intentionally using power to cause physical or emotional distress with the purpose of dominating the other person,” says Godin. “The bully works to marginalize people. In an organizational setting, the bully chooses not to engage in conversation or discussion or to use legitimate authority or suasion and depends instead on pressure in the moment to demean and disrespect someone else — by undermining not just their ideas but their very presence and legitimacy.”
Most bullies aren’t sociopaths, immune to correction. They are opportunists, using the tools that have often worked for them in the past.
And bullying pushes out the best employees or at least stifles their creativity and productivity. Simply put: great employees slowly stop caring. When the best employees stop doing their best, the organization takes a hit in lost ideas, connection, and insights.
“Do they [senior managers] understand that tolerating and excusing bullying behavior is precisely what permits it to flourish?” asks Godin. “If so, the next steps are painful and difficult but quite direct. Bullies can’t work here.”
- Work in a supportive, collaborative work environment, free of bullies.
- Support bullies by tolerating them as subordinates. Start dishing out warnings and performance improvement plans.
- Should consider moving on if you’re part of an organization where bullies thrive. Culture is top-down. It will not change unless top-level management changes.
“Just as laptop theft drops when our tolerance of it disappears, so does bullying,” explains Godin. “Most bullies aren’t sociopaths, immune to correction. They are opportunists, using the tools that have often worked for them in the past.”