How To Stop A Bully


June 13, 2013

How do you define bullying?

When I think of behaviors that are described as bullying today, I think back to my childhood when those same behaviors may have been called “normal” coming-of-age teasing.  I also think that people like me may be desensitized to the level of stress that those behaviors can cause, whether that be in school or in the workplace.  Jennifer Hancock, author of The Bully Vaccine,  is doing great work to bring sensitivity and knowledge of the subject to the masses.

Jennifer defines bullying as:  One person dominating another to get their own way.  It is intentional.

Bullying is a way for the aggressor to dehumanize the other person.  They do this repeatedly and in front of other people so that no one will feel compelled to help them.  With such relentless consistency, the only way to change the bully’s negative behavior is with consistent pro-social behavior.  Variable reinforcement only strengthens the bully’s negative behavior.

How can you stop a bully?

You’ll have to read the book (which is worth it for both kids and adults) to get all the suggestions.  Here are a few that Jenniferdiscussed on the show:

  • Remove the reward through passionate non-compliance.  When being bullied or seeing a bully in action, we tend to get angry.  You have to start viewing the bully through a compassionate lens.  Compassion gives the victim the power; not the bully.  
  • Create a “norm” in the group or on your team of KEY people using positive behaviors.  The key people are those people in the group that others look up to- regardless of title.

Have you been bullied in the workplace?  Be sure to share your stories in the comments.  AND…..listen to the HR Happy Hour episode here.

HR Happy Hour: The Bully Vaccine

hr happy hour


One Comment

  • Great post, I went to a session recently which discussed the power of the bystander and I think organisation should consider this carefully as often others in the group and their reaction (or lack of) is key.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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