Never Assume a Bully Knows They’re a Bully!

A couple of weeks ago, following a speech I presented on ‘Shifting to Riches in Business and Life’, a man came up to me and asked if I truly believed someone who is arrogant, nasty, negative and/or a bully, could really change….for good.

I simply responded, “You’re looking at her.”  #workplacebully

Whether it is a personality one possesses long term or it is the daily life challenges which cause someone to wreak havoc on the world and themselves, it is a choice one makes every day be nasty, curt, negative, or a #bully OR to be confident, happy and kind.

Before we address how anyone can ‘shift to riches in their career, business, and life’, we must confront the realization that someone who is perceived by others as nasty, curt, negative and/or a bully, may not see themselves that way…at all. I certainly did not.

Therefore, as a leader, you owe it to them, the team, and the company to confront the person, situation and behavior no matter how challenging or stressing it is for you. More importantly, whether they are a friend, protégé or foe, it is your responsibility to do so.

What can you do?

  • Find a neutral location that is a safe place for an open and collaborative conversation; that also could be heated at times.
  • Be direct, factual, and compassionate with them; assuming they don’t know or see themselves in the way you describe. Without sugar coating, illustrate specific situations and behaviors.
  • View the discussion as a discovery for both of you by asking a lot of questions.
  • Point out the impact their actions, behavior and personality are having on the team, company, and them; especially as it pertains to their position or opportunity for advancement, and growth. Note: if they are ambitious at all, it will matter to them.
  • Then stop talking and listen. Listen to understand how they view their behavior and actions. For example, they may feel they have to act a certain way to advance, or they see others (even you) behaving the same way so they are mirroring them, or they feel they are effective and are surprised by the discussion.
    • Whatever their belief or response, identify and ask questions that will provide knowledge and awareness for both of you.
    • Listen intently for things to mentor, coach and instruct on. As a leader, it is your responsibility to do all of those things.
    • Without apologizing, lay out the expectations you have of them.
  • Close out by discussing, not telling, the changes they need to make if they want to advance and grow, or even to keep their job.
  • Together, establish a plan and determine a follow-up schedule. Do not walk away assuming they heard you and will actually shift.
  • Follow-up and follow through…..even if they don’t. You can decide what that may mean and take action on it at that time.

Last reminder: as a leader, if their behavior goes unchecked or is never addressed with them, you bear responsibility for enabling their behavior and for not giving them the opportunity to change.

Everyone deserves a chance to shift. The next post will give you and your team a Shift to Riches Formula (and Guide) to do just that.

Bernadette Boas is the ball of fire keynote speaker and trainer, leadership consultant, author, screenwriter, and radio host behind Ball of Fire Consulting, Ball of Fire Inc. (media/publishing), Shedding the Bitch Radio, and her book Shedding the Corporate Bitch, Shifting Bitches to Riches in Life and Business. Buy it now on Amazon.

She provides Ball of Fire VIP Accelerator Programs, Coaching Services, Speaking and Training Programs and more. Schedule your complimentary 30-minute session at to discuss your business, team or company goals and objectives.

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