Is it bullying or dedicated?

by todaystrainingblog

A key buzz word in business today is bullying. We think of bullying as only being in the school yard. Bloody noses, weaker younger kids, and those who are undersized. But now bullying has come into the workplace. Or has it?
Certainly there are adult bullies in this world. All you have to do is look at some the leaders of countries. They are king of the hill and they act like it! And then there are the bullies in our lives as adults.
There is no way that we can deny that we have run into bullies in our everyday lives as adults. One of the biggest that I remember is back in Missouri. Ken Rex McElroy. He was a bully in his small town of Skidmore. He bullied the people and sheriff’s department of surrounding counties for most of his adult life. He got his comeuppance one afternoon. 45 shots into his body at mid-afternoon in downtown Skidmore and no one saw anything.
But co-workers and bosses can also be bullies at work. I had a bully for a boss when I worked for Wells Fargo Guard Services (now a defunct part of Securitas) in the 80s & 90s. His bosses called him driven but in all respects he managed by bullying and intimidation.
But how do you know if you’re boss or yourself are being a bully or just dedicated and driven to succeed? Sometimes the difference is a very thin line easily crossed. And sometimes, like me, we cross that line and don’t realize it. But does that mean we are a bully?

The Difference
Either yourself or your boss can be driven and dedicated to success. And being driven and pressing hard to get the job done, right, can make you an easy mark for being labeled a bully. But ask yourself these questions;
Do you berate or belittle co-workers when they do something wrong?
Do you participate in teasing over a physical or mental abnormality?
Do you yell, scream, and constantly ‘ride’ your employees until they do what you want?
Do you talk down to them?
Are you liked amongst your employees and peers?
Do you allow personal feelings and stress rule your attitude at work?
Do you threaten or intimidate to get what you want?
If you answered yes to these questions you might actually be a bully. Most bullies will never admit that they are bullying someone. Keep in mind that most people who are bullies are doing so by intimidation and being bigger, meaner, and stronger, and in a higher position, than others around them. And they are enabled by management or their peers.
And one of the worst things about bullies is that they remain bullies simply because no one ever calls them out. And if you do try to call them out, report them, or take disciplinary action, you could be looking at a lawsuit or worse being fired.

Being Dedicated
So what is the difference between being a bully and dedicated/driven to success in your job? The following points may help differentiate the two. Look at the above list and compare them to this one;
• Do you apologize when you are wrong? It doesn’t mean you’re a weak leader
• Do you stop unnecessary teasing, especially if it goes on ad nauseum?
• Do you talk to your employees on their level?
• Do you treat them all the same (as humans and not chattel)?
• Do you try to nurture their instincts and work abilities?
• Do your employees know how you want the job done correctly?
• Do you teach and coach instead of push and prod?
• Are your employees knowledgeable about doing the job right?
If you answered yes to these questions you are probably dedicated, driven, and press to get the job done right and not a bully. Keep in mind that you may be accused of being a bully and therefore you will have to defend everything you do and say or risk being disciplined or fired.
Does a good manager have to bully employees at times? Sometimes you do in order to get them to do the right thing. But also remember that if you and your crew are Sympatico, whatever you say needs to be done, they will jump in and do it efficiently and effectively.
We are becoming so sensitive in the United States that maybe we need to take an objective view and not be as quick to jump to the conclusion that someone is being bullied. Not everyone who is accused of being a bully is actually a bully. There are several reasons that someone may on occasion act like one, but their personality doesn’t make them a bully.
Some of us have been accused of being bullies and in reality all that happened is that we are hard driving, dedicated, blunt, direct, and straight forward towards our other employees and clients/customers. And if you present the facts in such a blunt fashion, as I do so as to cut through the bulls***, to someone you could be called a bully.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, a twice weekly blog, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security field for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or through his Facebook page at Here you will see and read about other items related to security as well as WPV.