Disarming a Bully: Victims, Managers, and Consumers

Defusing and Deflecting a Bully Situation

What can you do when encountered by a bully, or when one is working with you? You do not have to face the situation alone. Whether facing bullying in childhood, school, or work situation, there are universal ways to best handle the bully’s behavior. It is important to remember that all situations are different and if you are in danger, the most important thing is to seek safety. Read our tips for handling different bully scenarios, and remember that there is often more to a story than meets the eye. 

How Can You Handle Bullying as a Victim?

If you want to handle the bullying yourself, and are not in direct physical danger, consider the following tactics:

  • Determine the motivation of the bully, is it compliance, domination, or accommodation
  • Use experience as an advantage and remember that the bully needs something from you, whether a service, a discount, or in school… attention. 
  • Try to understand the source of their behavior, whether it is conflict that has nothing to do with you or it is their way of lashing out because they are in emotional pain.
  • Talk directly with the bully to diffuse the situation
  • Bring the behavior to the attention of your superiors or someone of authority, do not suffer alone or in silence
  • Recognize that the person who is doing the bullying is the one with the problem, not you. 
  • Do not isolate. You are not alone and there are people who can help.

Workplace Bullying: Management Responsibility

Management can use the following tactics to curb workplace bullying between coworkers: 

  • Don’t play favorites
  • Pay attention to concerns and complaints
  • Listen and refrain from diminishing emotions or downplaying actions of bullies
  • Call out the bullies and have a zero tolerance policy
  • Create a safe space for employees to discuss their experiences
  • And of course – Document, Document, and Document!

Consumer Bullies: “The Customer is NOT Always Right.”

If a customer is bullying you as a business owner or employee, you can deflect the bullying by:

  • Do not stand silent and take the bullying. Be polite but firm. Stick to your core business principles and be fair. Basically – stand up for yourself and let them go to another company – you don’t need distractions like this!
  • Tell the customer that you deserve respect and will resume the conversation once they are going to treat you with respect. If you need to hang up the phone, tell them your going to be hanging-up and why then do it.
  • Apologize for your part, if applicable, and move forward, diverting attention to the solution. 
  • Take the necessary time to respond thoughtfully and with the appropriate service, attention, or discount. Remember that time is a wonderful tool for diffusing the situation. Empathize but do not feel pressured to respond immediately. 
  • Convince them that you are on the same team, and that you are fighting together instead of fighting each other. Consider allowing them to feel powerful momentarily, while you find a solution to the problem that will be to your advantage, or the advantage of “the team”. 
  • Stay busy because the best defense against a bully customer is knowing that you don’t NEED their business.

Remember: Bullies are People, Too.

Many bullies are fighting their own battles and are working through childhood pain that was left unprocessed. Truly happy people do not feel the need to hurt others or overpower them, so your bully is a human in pain at the core and maybe, knowing that can help you overcome the pain that the bully is causing. If you are the victim of adult bullying, or you know a child who is the victim, seek help. 

Stay tuned for our next blog where we cover a local service based business stood up to a bully and how you can apply it to your own business. 

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