The Bully

I know a manager who has led his department for over twenty years. When it comes to receiving feedback on the performance of his team, he is not willing to take it. As a result, they suffer, and their numbers reflect it. Instead of trying to understand and correct the issues, he wants to take the role of the bully. He will defend and fight, hem and haw, and try to intimidate others.

As I watch his face turn red and his blood pressure skyrocket, I start thinking about other bullies. There is some inherent weakness within them. Rather than exposing their flaws and working to correct them, they would cover them up. And if they feel their weaknesses are in danger of exposure, they use whatever force available to them to mask it.

I remember hearing an old story of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. If he felt he had a flaw or weak point in his physique, he would intentionally expose it. For example, if he thought his abs were a bit flabby, he would wear a cutoff shirt showing them off. Every time, he passed by a mirror he would see them. He would notice others looking his direction and would think they were looking at his midsection. He used this tactic as fuel to work even harder to correct his flaw. He did the opposite of what a classic bully would do.

Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.

Eric Hoffer

The next time you encounter a rude person, consider why they are being like that. What are they trying to cover up? Is it something they don’t understand or are ashamed of? Understanding where they come from might be able to give you the opportunity to better navigate future interactions with them.

And the next time, you feel you are being rude, ask yourself if you are trying to cover up a weakness. If you are, then you have an opportunity to identify it and correct it. Turn your weakness into a strength, and you will realize there is no longer a need to be rude.