"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof."
John Kenneth Galbraith

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 444

Estimated reading time:  3:00 minutes


I’ve been wondering how to respond to violence without resorting to violence. There are big issues of racism, misogyny  and homophobia, and swastikas appearing on our screens. And related, but not getting the same airtime recently is violence and bullying at work. How are we to behave in the face of employees and colleagues who are resorting to psychological violence,  if not physical violence. Our defaults can be fight (reacting with similar or increased levels), flight (walking away, making excuses for the other person’s behaviour), freeze (silence or pretending it doesn’t exist) or flock, (talking in small groups about the person’s behaviour). 


None of these will make a difference in the long term, and usually result in an ever increasing cycle of violence, or tacit complicity with the bully’s behaviour.


What is required is response, not a reaction.


And that is the key, in the end a culture of bullying thrives in the midst of reactions. It can be mitigated if not eliminated when leaders and colleagues work to respond to each other. And responses are all about you.  You are the only one who can make such choice for you. Nor can you make such a choice for anyone else. 


Here are three ways you can increase your own ability to respond, not react when it comes to bullying in your organization.


  1. Be a team player and collaborator yourself — model the behaviours you want to see in others.
  2. Always acknowledge and praise teamwork and collaboration, no person has ever achieved any kind of success on their own, they are always dependant on someone else.
  3. Work on your own self-awareness about triggers that make you angry, work on your own stuff to be better prepared when those triggers happen for you.
  1. One of the most effective ways of managing your triggers is an “If - Then Plan”. Once you identify the trigger, for example, ‘I get frustrated when I feel that someone cuts me off in a meeting.’ I can think about specifically how I might respond and that becomes my “then” plan. It looks like: “If someone cuts me off in a meeting, then, I will take three deep breaths and raise my hand until recognized by the chair of the meeting.” Note, my “If Then” plan is for me, it is not normative. First identify the trigger, second, what will you do when that happens. Tray and be as specific as possible. 



May we all live and work in places where we are all that much more self-aware.