The Boardroom Bully

The Boardroom Bully wants to be the center of attention at all times - no matter the cost. Here are Modern Manners Guy's 3 tips for combating this new breed of workplace bully.

Richie Frieman
3-minute read

You've heard me talk about office bullies in past articles, and I faced the issue of bullies head on in my book, REPLY ALL…And Other Ways To Tank Your Career. However, it seems the bully species has generated another limb of obnoxiousness that is affecting the way we get through our workday.  

Initially, we thought the standard office bully just roamed the halls (or cubes) dishing work off onto others or making inappropriate jokes at the shy person in the office, yet the Boardroom Bully takes it one step further.

If you are still not sure what a Boardroom Bully is, allow me to paint a picture for you. Everyone gathers in the office boardroom for a meeting, and after a few pleasantries, the Boardroom Bully goes on to dominate the room with issues that matter to them. They talk loudly over others, they joke at someone else’s expense for a cheap laugh, basically they make it clear that no one else matters. They must be the center of attention, no one else is important, and this all happens publicly, in front of the entire company. 

However, the Boardroom Bully is not all powerful. He or she can be outwitted with grace and etiquette. So, with that, here are my top 3 quick and dirty tips on how to handle the Boardroom Bully:

Tip #1: Identify the Bully

I’ll be devil’s advocate and say that some Boardroom Bullies may not even know they are being bullies. So, if someone dominates the boardroom one day – out of the blue - make sure they are not doing it to be malicious. If you see them speaking over others out of excitement or nervousness, confront them head on so they can reign it in. Try something like, “Gee, Bob you were really talkative today! Extra coffee?” Or “Bob, no offense, but next meeting, I’d like to get more time on the floor.” The test is whether or not they are apologetic, seeing that they may have not realized how rude they were. But if they say, “Well, that’s your problem,” then you know you’re dealing with a Boardroom Bully. And after you identify that, you’ll need to follow the two other tips below.

Tip #2: Bring an Agenda

If you make a detailed agenda to outline the meeting, with proposed time limits for each topic, it’s hard for the Boardroom Bully to govern. When an agenda is out there on the table, it shows that everyone in the room has an equal time to talk.  An agenda puts everyone on a level playing field, and if the Boardroom Bully starts to go over their allotted time, a domino effect will occur with others becoming annoyed that their time is being usurpted. And this creates mass frustration in the room, which in turn  created a team of people against the Boardroom Bully, rather than just one lonely voice.

Tip #3: Pack Mentality

As I said in Tip #2, when the Boardroom Bully infringes on others, people start to talk. And unlike the amateur blabber of the Office Gossip, this kind of talk can be a good thing. It lets others know, “This is not right and I’m not alone!” As well, “I’m not going to let the Boardroom Bully push us around.” Now you can form a pack of fellow mannerly workers so that when a Boardroom Bully tries to flex their muscles, others have your back to keep them in line.

Do you have a story about a Boardroom Bully?  Post all the details in the comment section below. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

And check out more annoying coworker types and how to handle them in my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career. It's available in paperback, ebook, and even audiobook format!

Bully image courtesy of Shutterstock.