Can bullies really change?

Dec 16 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Most of us, regardless of our age, can still remember the bully at school in our adolescent years. In fact, it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that he probably still is a bully, even though he now wears a tie to work and has an MBA.

I'm reminded of this timeless character because I was reading an article offering advice on how to prepare for confrontation with the workplace saboteur (their words, not mine).

The article offers your typical politically correct, made-for-corporate-America response: be assertive, take notes, get management involved, look for explanations.

But while this is all very good advice, is it usually effective? Will the workplace saboteur appreciate that you've taken the time to rationalize his or her logic and behavior? Is he or she going to back off once a middle manager proceeds to issue a mild telling off?

Count me among those that believe that people don't change. I don't believe that the onus should be on us non-saboteurs to have to find peace or common ground with someone else who is the problem. While this article is full of good advice (much like a parent gives their child about not fighting back when the playground bully rears his head), it's not necessarily full of advice that will make the victim of the workplace saboteur any easier.

Unfortunately, I don't have any better solutions to offer, at least not ones that are likely to be applauded by readers, but, on occasion, it would be nice to see the saboteur get a taste of his or her own medicine!