It’s Not a Conflict!

Realistic suggestions for handling the bullying issue. Don’t treat it as a conflict.

Bullying may look like a conflict. You might think the bully is bullying because they are in conflict with their victim. They may even tell you – I don’t like this person and give you a bunch of reasons why their bad behavior toward their victim is justified.

What you need to understand as a humanistic manager or leader tasked with resolving these “conflicts,” is that bad behavior is never justified!  Even if it was true, and the other person was doing something horrid, all someone is telling you when they try to justify their bad behavior because someone else behaved badly is this: they aren’t in control enough of their behavior to deal with whatever the problem they think they have rationally.

Rational, intelligent, professional and civilized people don’t behave badly

Rational, intelligent, professional and civilized people don’t behave badly when they conflict with other people. In fact, and I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but there are people who can remain friendly with people they disagree with. Shocking I know, but it’s true and it’s what we should be striving towards, both personally and professionally.

So … if you have someone behaving badly and they are telling you they are behaving badly because – of some conflict. Understand that they have just told you they need help controlling their behavior and offer them that help.  Their bad behavior was not the way to deal with whatever it was they were dealing with and if they behave that way again, there will be consequences!!!!

I realize this sounds a lot like parenting advice. And it is. Because when adults behave badly – they aren’t behaving like professional civil adults, because professional civil adults don’t behave badly.  When someone tells you they aren’t capable of behaving professionally during conflicts, accept their poor assessment of themselves.

It's a Cop-Out

Also realize that this cop out is the favorite justification of bullies. It’s the way they deflect attention off of their bad behavior and onto another person who “caused” them to behave badly. This victim blaming is childish. Something 5 year olds do. Don’t allow your workers to act like 5 year olds. Hold them to adult professional standards.

If you want to learn more about why conflict resolution doesn’t work when the problem is bullying, check out this course:

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