Compliments of chrisinplymouth via Flickr

Temper tantrums from small persons are easy to squash – children can be sent to a corner, reprimanded, or punished by other means. More difficult is when these outbursts are received from larger persons – e.g., your colleagues.

Although it’s difficult to believe that adults can behave in this fashion, some have such a craving for the spotlight they’re willing to act as buffoons in the process. Their behavior violates all tenets of office protocol and the expectation of mutual respect.  One minded in their quest for importance, they pillage surrounding psyches to prove their point – that they can be louder, meaner, and more aggressive than the next person – that they are in essence an individual to be feared.

The misfortune is that they are unaware of how ridiculous they appear. Like a circus sideshow, their puerile antics are a morbid form of onlooker entertainment. People who feel good about themselves don’t engage in childish pursuits.

Bullies stand naked in their non-achievement, their low self-esteem (and need to compensate) in full view. Their mouth takes on mammoth proportions to the rest of their body as it hijacks the surrounding air space. Bullies feel if they’re throwing rocks at someone else (or creating a disturbance), their inadequacies are temporarily masked. Trouble makers bear this one trait in common: lackluster achievement and a lack of legitimate bragging rights.

When these people congregate, they comprise a motley crew of dishonor. They get attention in the only they know how – at another’s expense. Why do individuals feel it’s appropriate to express themselves in this fashion? Bullies are a soufflé of self-importance who wish to be the center. I’m reminded of mess that spills over into a common area. The unprofessional and obnoxious create collateral damage that is never repaired.

How to put the brutish in their place? If your organization implicitly condones bullying by doing nothing, pick up the spear of determination and develop a plan. On what committees can you serve that have power to change policy? How can you get involved in pursuits that modify procedure, and stem the tide of poor behavior? Bullies will be powerless if you change the system from within.

Today, dare to eat the apple of self-assurance. Others may they think they’re wearing you down – but a constant stream of abuse maintains your resistance razor sharp. If you remain passive, you’ve provided a conduit for the cowardly.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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