The Positives of Having an Explosive Bully Boss


The fiery feud between MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, and President Donald Trump was disturbing. Complete with name-calling, accusations of plastic surgery, Twitter sparring, and op-eds, it’s perhaps one of the most public examples of bullying in history.

Sadly, many of us can relate. Bullies are everywhere–in schools, behind computer screens, and in our workplaces. A few of my friends and colleagues struggle with an explosive bully boss or colleague–someone who calls them names in meetings, tells them their ideas are dumb and makes inappropriate comments that border on sexual harassment.

I wish bullying didn’t occur anywhere, but especially at work. The U.S. employee spends an average of 47 hours a week at work. That’s a good part of our lives and we should spend it in a positive and productive environment.

However, if you are the victim of bullying–there may be an upside. Consider these points:

It can elevate your image.

If you happen to be in a situation where your bullying is made public, like in Joe and Mika’s case, then, pretty much no matter what your response, it will be heralded as nicer, smarter, even more eloquent than your bully’s actions.

People will want to side with you and thus they will look at you through a more favorable lens.

It can give you a platform.

With this attention, then you automatically have a sympathetic and captive audience.

People will be expecting a response from you. Thus being bullied can create an opportunity for you to champion a cause or send a powerful message–like the need to stop bullies in their tracks.

You can set an example for others who are being bullied and help them to turn their situation around, too.

It can make you a better person.

In a lot of cases being bullied can make you more empathetic and can raise your emotional IQ. Traumatic events can even make you stronger. It can give you grit. Many people use them as motivation to persevere and pursue their dreams or goals of being a better person or achieving success.

It isn’t always the case that bullying gets revealed and made public. In a way, Mika and Joe have it easier that way.

I understand how serious an issue bullying is and how difficult it can be for someone experiencing this awful and paralyzing situation in the workplace.

My advice to those who are being bullied and need help? Try these three tactics. And, if you feel like you need more help, or would benefit from some individual coaching, contact me.

1. Get talking.

Go to human resources, your in-house health department or someone you trust, and talk with them about the situation. Learn their policies in handling it and discuss options to diffuse or eliminate it.

2. Start writing.

Start documenting incidents. And, formulate a firm yet emotionally neutral request verbally and in writing to the bully asking them to stop. Ensure that you have follow up, and be sure to record their response. Documentation will be the first thing HR or legal asks you for.

3. Get moving.

If all else fails and you feel like you can’t manage the situation, get out. Don’t let an explosive bully boss knock your self-esteem. Utilize your network to find another, better position or project. I don’t mean to say run away but if you are miserable where you are, then there’s no need to tough it out. Something better is out there.

A version of this post was first published on Inc. 

Image: L’Échappée Volée, CC 2.0