When the Bullied Become the Bullies, It Happens in Business Too!

For those who’ve studied what makes bullies tick, well, it turns out we learn that a fair percentage of those who bully do so because they’ve been bullied themselves. Doubt that? It’s true and you can read just about any psychological research on this, it seems to be a fairly common truism. But why you might ask yourself. Well, it’s hard to say but let’s discuss this and let me give you some examples if I might.

First, we’ve all heard that story where you give a man a gun and a badge and a minimum wage security job, and he’ll turn into a one-man Gestapo! Sure enough, we see this all of the time don’t we? Well, it also happens in business. I know this for a fact, as prior to retirement I ran a franchising organization and I learned early on that my own franchisees when they were bullied by government enforcement or competitors would turn into little Hitler’s themselves.

For instance, if a code enforcement officer came out because some competitor called in a false complaint, then our franchisee would find out who, and then tit-4-tat call them in for the littlest minor incident. I also had franchisees that told me they wanted to own their own business because their boss was so abusive. Of course, once they became the boss, it was amazing how hardnosed they could be with their own employees. It’s as if they’d donned a new hat, and put on another man’s shoes and all of a sudden, a little dictator they became.

When consumers bully small businesses or threaten boycotts or engage in online review flaming, those business owners really turn on the heat, sometimes to their own demise, putting forth new rules and restrictions so consumers don’t take advantage of them. It seems one mean-spirited act, if not dealt with correctly turns into an on-going saga of meanness and bullying. Just as when you smile, others smile, and it becomes contagious, the same thing happens when you attack.

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