Five tips for working with bully-behaviors

When I was a kid, I hated seeing other kids bullied. I’d run at the bully with my arms out-stretched or head lowered ram-like to shove the bully away from his target. Then I’d run away as fast as possible to avoid revenge.

As I’ve matured and gained experience as a mediator and conflict engagement specialist, I’ve learned other (more useful) ways of dealing with people and their bully behaviors. Here are five tips to help you when bullying behaviors threaten your work group.

Finding our way past misunderstanding

A friend recently shared this poem by Chuck Dunning. After reading the poem, my friend asked, “How can we hope to hold conversations about equity and social justice with all these misunderstandings?” Her question points in the direction of what will help us find our way through the misunderstandings: curiosity and compassion.

What’s your parenting, er, supervising style?

A book about parenting style has me wondering about supervision within the workplace. I don’t mean to suggest that parenting and managing are equivalent roles. But parenting and managing share two important characteristics: there is a power-dynamic inherent in the relationship; human beings are involved on both sides of that power-dynamic. And occasionally I’ve heard frustrated supervisors…

Invest in learning, not training

When we see a problem in the workplace, it’s common to land on training as a solution. We hope to eliminate waste, become effective managers, or learn to resolve conflicts with difficult coworkers. We look at our budget, hire a trainer, and have a great class. As a trainer, I love that solution. It funds work…

From conflict to transformational results

If you want to understand how to transform conflict into smarter results and stronger relationships, watch Alan Honick’s short film Seeing the Forest. It’s a story about transformation—from singled-minded management to inclusive leadership; from positional conflict to values-based collaboration; from focusing on discrete objects (trees) to seeing integrated systems (the forest ecosystem: trees, salmon, and let’s not forget the…

Move beyond staying positive

I recently spoke with a man struggling to stay positive within his workplace. Several months earlier he had committed to changing his attitude. He had spent too many years complaining with coworkers and leaving the office at the end of the day emotionally exhausted. He didn’t want to be part of the toxicity that permeates his work group anymore.…

Team struggling? Let their greatness guide them.

Have you ever been on a team that seemed to lose its way? You knew it was struggling because team members triangulated and created cliques within the team, found unity against a common foe like management, or went silent about issues that impacted their goals. Toxic attitudes and poor results are telltale signs of a team in trouble. Next…