conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

How to Hack the Bully’s Monologue (Dummy’s Guide to Conversation #16)

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Resist the rhetoric of control

Every person has worth. Every person has something meaningful to communicate to us and vice versa.

But sometimes the guy in the corner office just wants to yank your chain. Sometimes your colleague comes in your cube too close and berates you for something that riles only her. And sometimes these work contexts make you question your worth. Today we call this bullying and officially frown on it, though bosses of all stripes let their primordial managers get away with it as long as they post results.

tumblr_mmqvvyMP6O1qbcporo1_1280-05172013In the face of the bully’s monologue, we may need to set down our goals of understanding and hearing each other. We may need to pick up tools that will help protect us from the bully. And especially as our culture talks more about innovation, we must recognize that the enemy of innovation is the bully who uses monologue to quell thinking and drive over dissent.

  1. The hack begins with dropping sycophancy. Just because the VP of marketing is telling you a personal story about his cabin doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to put you in the low place he wants you. There’s no need to continue to play the prop: the underling enamored by all the person in power does.
  2. Be present. Don’t go to the Bahamas while the bully drives his verbal tank into position.
  3. Stand. Even if sitting, assume a mentally poised place to challenge.
  4. Challenge. Is there another way of looking at the perspective the bully shouts? What is the truth here? Speaking fast and loud does not make something true.
  5. Know two things
    • You are a person, too. A person of value.
    • That language can be encouraging or damaging. Every communication encounter has a shaping effect on both conversation partners. Don’t let the bully continue unchecked.
  6. Turn the other cheek. Yes: quite. Back to Jesus the Christ who knew something about handling the bully. He knew the most effective thing long-term was to offer the bully even more. Not in every case, but dealing with the bully from a place of peace and, yes—faith (in God)—may just cut power to the BS generator the bully madly operates. This counter-intuitive step holds much promise for moving forward as a human.

Some reading this may think no modern/post-modern workplace has bullies like this. You could not be more wrong. It is interesting that the tools used to shine a light on the bully’s madness are also effective in ordinary conversations.

How do you handle the bully’s monologues?


Image credit: Used with permission from Paul Rivoche via 2headedsnake

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  1. […] some time I’ve wondered what leadership will look like when the power of monologue is finally revealed as the empty shell it always […]

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