Are You a Bully?

People with strong personalities are often successful in the workplace.  They do well because they are willing and able to fight for what they want.  The downside is that they are more likely to exhibit bullying behaviour.  If you think that you might be a bully, consider the following questions:

Do you believe that, on some level, you are always right?

Would you prefer to persuade someone of your point of view than to compromise or collaborate?

Do you find it difficult to work with others?

Do you have more conflicts than most people?

Do you get annoyed when you don’t get your way? (but you usually do.)

Do you feel that other people treat you unfairly?

Have you ever been accused of being a bully?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, than you may be a workplace bully.  It is difficult to think of yourself as a bully, but many people fall into this trap.  If you have identified this tendency within yourself, you need to make an effort to control it.  Here are some tips to help you get a handle on this behaviour:

Recognize that it is a problem.  The first step is to identify that you can be a bully sometimes, and to acknowledge that it is something that you need to change about yourself.  If you don’t recognize that it is a problem, it will never get better.

Identify your triggersAre there certain situations that make you act like a bully?  Do you act more aggressive when you feel that you are being threatened?  Does a particular type of person cause you to act a little more dominant?  If you identify the situations that cause you to act like a bully, you will be more able to predict the behaviour, and thus control it. 

Stop yourself.  Now that you are aware that you sometimes act like a bully, you are more able to recognize the behaviour.  When you catch yourself falling into your old habits, stop yourself, take a deep breath, and try to approach the situation in a different way.  This will take some practice, but it will get easier with time.

Work at compromise.  If you are a person who prefers to persuade people to your own point of view, compromise may not come easily to you.  Make an effort to hear and consider other peoples’ opinions.  Even if you feel that your idea is the best one, you may get further ahead if you try out your coworker’s suggestion.  An important part of getting along with others is knowing how to pick your battles.

Enlist a friend to help you.  Self change is difficult.  It can be helpful to talk to a trusted friend and let them know what you are trying to do.  Ask them to tell you when you are behaving like a bully.  You can even have them talk you through challenging situations, and help you identify the best solutions.

Your strong personality gives people confidence in your viewpoint, and it makes people see you as a leader.  However, this same strength is a hindrance if you are perceived as a bully.  Take control of this behaviour, and your strength will take you far in your career.

(Written by:  Karen Bivand)

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