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You are Wrong About the Bullies

We have been told many times that bullies lack confidence and self-esteem, so they compensate with their aggressive behaviour like small dogs. But is that true?


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You have also been told that people with a lack of empathy are emotionally unintelligent. I hate to break it to you, but this is definitely not true. People who lack or behave like those who lack empathy are highly aware of what they are doing to others. That's why they are doing it! They know that they are hurting others because they want to hurt them. They are very aware of how they make other people feel with their actions, and that's why they are doing it. They are highly aware that they manipulate people with their coldness or fake warmness, and that's why they are doing it. This is why EQ is highly questioned in the field of psychology, and they trace this intelligence back to IQ. These guys are super smart; if we take this as a basis, we can contemplate the bullies, too. 


Bullies also know exactly why they do what they do. They also know how their actions impact others, so they are emotionally not as low as we were told. They know, they just don't care. 

Long gone are the days when psychologists attribute bullying behaviour to low self-esteem. New research suggests that bullies are often overly confident in how they perceive themselves and how others view their behaviour. While some bullies have low self-esteem, it doesn't appear to be the case in most instances. But the best part of this research is the biological base for bullying, which I always suspected but never looked into. Once, I casually asked my friend, "What is the evolutionary purpose of bullying? Because there must be something. Mother Nature doesn't give us things we don't need." To which he replied, "It must be a natural screening process so the weak don't get into leadership positions." I didn't dismiss the idea but didn't entertain it either. Oh boy, I didn't know how right he was! 


"The study supports the evolutionary process theory that there is a biological explanation for bullying because bullies benefit from being aggressive. That is contrary to the theory that bullies are often exhibiting this type of behaviour because they have difficult home or school lives or have been the target of bullying or harassment themselves."


"Our ancestors used aggression to defend territory and attract mates to produce the best offspring, so it may be that bullying is a contemporary way that people are expressing this drive," Wong said."


During our conversation, I intuitively said one more thing: "If it is Mother Nature's work, maybe trying to stop this behaviour is the wrong approach." And the study suggests the same!!! 

"Rather than trying to teach bullies to stop their innate behaviour, the researchers suggest that their aggression should be funnelled into other activities."

Maybe it is time to look at bullying at work differently and see it for what it most likely is: territorial protection and the desire to be at the top of the food chain or, in this case, the corporate hierarchy. And if it is, how can we tame these guys to leverage their drive, talent, and desired dominance? What kind of work environment is suitable for them? Small? Large? Profit or non-profit? How would a man like that respond to a female boss or vice versa? What do they consider to be a threat? 


The number of questions that go through my mind is endless. How do we build a training program out of it? Should we opt for coaching instead? If I had to decide, I would go for that. Bullies are better in 1:1 settings. Read "Coaching Alphas"


Knowing this information, what do we do with corporate bullies? Because, let's be honest, if it is innate programming, a workshop on "Please do not bully others" will not work against Mother Nature. She overrides everything we do. How can we play her game the way she intended it? Has she given us bullies to lead us, and our job is to tame them? Are those the naturally born leaders, and have we mistaken them for being aggressive and the enemy of society that must be eradicated (the behaviour)?


Are those the people Jordan Peterson talks about when he says, "A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control." 

As I am writing this, one more thing crosses my mind. Carlson Tucker said something this year at the World Government Summit when he was asked why he didn't hold Putin responsible for the killing of individuals (he mentioned names, but I forgot). His answer won't leave my mind, and at first, I was like, what??? The more I think about it, the more I agree with it, and this research supports this. He said, "Killing people is part of leadership." BOOOOM, Isn't he, right? Just look around. And it is the same in organisations. Leaders who succeed are not scared of taking actions they think are necessary. When you come between their goals, they will deal with you. That is a sign of a successful leader in an organisation, and somehow, we translated it as toxic leadership or bullying behaviour. They have their eyes on the goal and will do anything to achieve it. Isn't that what we want from leaders? However, the way they go about it is what makes the difference. Keep it under voluntary control. Maybe that's what we need to train or coach these guys on. Maybe voluntary control is what the researchers suggest: Funnelling it into other activities. 


If you want to see more redundant HR stuff, here is some exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in May! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:



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