Abrasive leaders, also known as “workplace bullies,” engage in aggressive behavior because they are truly unaware that their actions cause so much damage to those around them. A lot of times, they are labeled as narcissists or gaslighters because they display these kinds of behaviors. Sure, they know they’re seen as hard managers to work with, but they probably think their management style makes them effective leaders.
This lack of awareness is the reason your conversations about behavior change aren’t working. They discount your feedback, or think employees are incompetent. Here’s a script you can use to get their attention:
You: “We’ve had a steady stream of complaints about perceptions of interactions with you – we don’t see this with other managers. This is not acceptable and cannot continue.”
Abrasive leader: “You weren’t there.” “They need to be managed that way.” “They make too many mistakes.” “Why are you taking their side?”
You: “I don’t know what happened; I wasn’t there. But I do know one fact: several people feel they are being treated disrespectfully, and that one fact has to change.”
Notice you’re not engaging in a “fact battle” but instead arguing one very true fact that is inescapable – people believe the behavior is too aggressive, and that has to change. And to help you better understand and change these behaviors, we’re offering a FREE WEBINAR on “Workplace Bullies & Abrasive Leaders: Why They Act that Way and How to Make Them Stop” on July 19th, 10 a.m. PST! This webinar is worth 1 SHRM PDC, so claim your spot now!
PS. Check out Catherine’s TEDx Talk on workplace respect and kindness, where she talks about the importance of being an upstander when witnessing bullying behaviors. To help your company foster an upstander culture, you can check out Catherine’s LinkedIn Learning course, Bystander Training: From Bystander to Upstander or reach out to us to implement this training in your workforce!