How to create a bully-free work environment
The Golden Rule puts you in control. It means you should be nice to people even when they are mean to you. Before long, they will be nice to you because they are programmed to treat you the way you treat them.
In short, when you respond to hostility with hostility, hostility escalates. When you respond with kindness, hostility disappears.
The following are some practical guidelines for operating by the Golden Rule.
1. Don’t come across as a bully. Social science experiments have demonstrated unequivocally that when people are placed in positions of power, they very quickly start abusing their power without necessarily being aware of it. Don’t be fooled by your title. Just because you are a boss, it doesn’t mean you are any better or smarter than the people who work under you.
2. Don’t look to blame problems on others. If you want people to like and respect you, take responsibility for solving the problem. You are the boss.
3. Don’t you like to feel appreciated? Well, so do your employees. Appreciation is a more powerful motivator than hope for a raise.
4. The number one destroyer of relationships is anger. No one will like and respect you for getting angry. If you find yourself getting angry often, you are accomplishing the opposite of what you want. You create a poisonous work environment. You are letting people defeat you, and unwittingly encouraging them to do what you don’t want them to. When employees do something wrong, instead of getting angry, correct them calmly and respectfully.
5. Be forgiving. No one is perfect, even leaders. We all make mistakes sometimes. When we forgive people, they feel better and so do we.
6. Just because you are treating your employees like friends, it doesn’t mean you have to give them everything they want or to let them do whatever they want. We often need to say no to people and to put firm boundaries. But we should treat them like friends when we do so, not like enemies. If you have to turn down a request, preface it with “I wish I could,” and give them a reasonable explanation why you can’t. If you need to reprimand someone, make it clear you are trying to help them do a better job. If you have to penalize someone, do it with regret, as in, “I wish we didn’t have to do this to you, but…” and explain why.
7. Don’t defend yourself from criticism. Other people see our faults better than we do. When we defend ourselves from their criticism, we are treating them like enemies, and we automatically lose because the defensive position is the weaker one. They won’t respect us and are likely to continue attacking us to get us to defend ourselves. Even if they are wrong, criticism is their attempt to help us. So appreciate it. You might learn something valuable.