Are You a Bully?

By Heather Campbell

Mention the word ‘bullying’ and people will usually nod and confirm that bullying in the workplace is an important issue.

It needs to be addressed.

And I come across plenty of people who feel they’re being bullied.

But I NEVER meet anyone who believes they are a bully.

Or that addressing bullying starts with them personally.

So, I’m going to buck the trend.

I’m going to put my hands up here.

I’m embarrassed to admit that my behaviours, at one stage in my leadership career, could have been described as bullying.

No one actually said I was bullying

And I certainly didn’t intend to behave like a bully.

But, looking back, the expectations and pressures I put on the team I was leading were unacceptable.

And my less-than-gracious reactions, at times when people didn’t meet up to those expectations, weren’t too good either.

I can also see that my behaviours were the result of a much wider organisational malaise – of a system of unreasonable expectations and pressures that led to less-than-model leadership at every level.

Not a happy time.

Now, my ego is such that I can’t leave it there….!

I am happy to say that I have been described by different teams, in other circumstances, as the best boss they’ve ever had.

I’ve matured and I’ve had the opportunity to work in much healthier environments.

In our work at CommsMasters, we’re often asked to help resolve situations where bullying is present. We’re asked to ‘fix’ the person who is the bully.

And, when we explore further, we repeatedly find that the situations are far more complex than the paradigm of the ‘big, bad individual’ would suggest.

October is ‘National Bullying Prevention Month’ in the US, with November seeing a week of anti-bullying campaigning in England.

Both are aimed mainly at bullying amongst children and teenagers. But our focus here is on bullying in the workplace.

Bullying is, by its very nature, demonstrated most commonly through communication. And, we find, it can often be resolved through communication too.

That’s why, at CommsMasters, we have a particular interest in this area and over the next few months we’re undertaking a range of further research into this topic.

One of those pieces of research is to explore the experience of bullying from the perspective of ‘the bully’.

  • Maybe you’ve been directly told that your behaviours were seen as bullying.
  • Maybe, like me, you simply suspect that you over-stepped the mark.

Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

If you are happy to share your experiences, simply click here to complete our confidential online survey.

Or, if you would like to speak to me directly, get in touch on

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