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4. Could you be considered a bully without knowing? 

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. Author of "How to develop emotional resilience and manage your emotions".

Emotionally intelligent leadership styles do not include being a bully. Yet the number of stories I hear about people being intimidated and bullied at work is high. Leaders and other people who bully in the workplace need to know where the boundaries are. They need to be challenged. Their behaviour needs to be improved. 

Is it possible? In some cases, yes. However, we don't just need more legislation, we need more emotional intelligence.

There's been a story in the Australian media about a CEO who was surprised to get feedback anonymously from his staff that he was perceived as arrogant and intimidating. In fact a bully. He worked to improve his skills, became more emotionally intelligent and changed.

Sometimes the bully doesn’t know he or she is a bully. Could this apply to you? Read on and find out.

Emotional intelligence: 5 ways to find out if you're a bully.

If you are sure you are not a bully, this information may still be useful so you recognise bullies quickly in your organisation, and stop them.

Leaders with high emotional intelligence are willing to stamp out such behaviour quickly, as the emotional climate produced in an organisation with bullies in it can be devastating on staff retention and employee engagement.

Would you like to develop your emotionally intelligent leadership skills? Try our smart leadership coaching package, face-to-face Online or in person in Perth, Western Australia.

Emotional intelligence & bullying 1. Check your body language.

Check your body language. Do you use body language that cuts people off?

For example, do you turn away, have little or no eye contact, remain stony faced, look out of the window when being spoken to, put your hands behind your head and feet up on the desk, or engage in other similar behaviour?

This is not emotionally intelligent and can be perceived as arrogant or bullying or at the least very off-putting when someone is talking to you. I have met several senior people who engage in this behaviour. They don't wear a mask - they are in a hide!

Emotional intelligence & bullying 2. Check your voice.

Do you use a harsh, tense or aggressive voice tone, a voice with an edge to it?

People may react negatively to a harsh voice because it suggests the person may be aggressive, tense or trying to dominate them. It certainly doesn't convey that you have high levels of emotional intelligence.

Or maybe your voice is louder than other people's especially at meetings or on phone calls? If you don't know I recommend you record yourself or use a decible meter to measure your volume levels and find out. Emotionally intelligent leaders have self-awareness.

People are often unaware of how they come across. How we hear ourselves is not how others hear us. Find out how you sound - you might be surprised. I know several people who think they are talking loudly when infact they are whisper quiet, the opposite may be true for you.  

Some people have loud voices which are overpowering and dominating and they don't realise it. This is hardly emotional intelligence in action, is it?

We hear our own voices resonating inside our heads where the sound is changed by our muscles and bones. No one else hears what we hear. They only hear the sound as it comes out of our mouths. 

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package.

Emotional intelligence & bullying 3. Check what you say

Do you deliberately or unintentionally put people down or ridicule them? This reflects a low emotional intelligence.

Sometimes this may be done in jest but it may not be taken as such and instead cause offence.

Do you undermine people, wear down their confidence, or have them be seen badly by other people?

For example, one senior professional woman told me she had tried to express an opinion in a meeting and reported that the chairman yelled at her in front of everyone else, “You are ignorant”. She was shocked and insulted. And it shut her up.

This is bullying and inappropriate.

I have many stories like this - some of which cannot be repeated because they may cause offence in the article and some can't be repeated because the person on the receiving end would be identifiable.

Others include one I had recently directed at me when I mentioned I was the Vice President of a committee. "The Country Women's Association I presume" a man interjected. No! This was an attempt to belittle the significance of the work I do and typical of comments that some men make of women.

Such comments are also typical of those that can undermine people. Comments like these do not reflect a high emotional intelligence and they could get you into trouble.

Would you like to develop your emotionally intelligent leadership skills? Try our smart leadership coaching package, face-to-face Online or in person in Perth, Western Australia.

Emotional intelligence & bullying 4. Ask

Do people think you are a bully or find you intimidating? If you don't know, ask. Then listen to the response without blaming the other person or people.

I remember a funny conversation I had with one of my CEOs once. He asked me if I found him intimidating.

I said, "No, but then you wouldn't want me to feel intimidated given that I'm your emotional intelligence coach, would you? But frustrating? Yes!"

His executive would come in to talk to him and he would never stay on topic and would jump around asking questions that seemingly came from nowhere. His was a different issue.

Of course, if you are in a position of power, such as a leader or manager, people may not tell you; but ask and hear what happens.

I greatly admire someone I coach, who came to me and said he had been told that his staff were frightened of him. He asked me for help. I was very happy to assist as his communication style was unintentionally causing the problem. It was fairly easy to sort out as he adopted a less demanding and directive communication style and became more inclusive and explanatory in his interactions. He developed his emotional intelligence to a much higher level and this eased the problem.

Understanding and a willingness to change go a long way to overcoming unintentional bullying and developing a more emotionally intelligent leadership style. 

Emotional intelligence & bullying 5. Accept that bullying matters

Accept that you need to find out how you are perceived. Why? Because bullying can have very serious consequences.

  • It can whittle away at people’s confidence.
  • It can reduce productivity.
  • It can lead organisations to lose valuable and experienced staff.
  • It increases stress in the workplace, increases sickness and lowers morale.
  • Staff are left feeling inadequate, angry and frustrated.
  • A feeling of powerlessness to change the situation can stop staff from contributing their own ideas, restrict their creativity and deny an organisation the benefit of their experience and intelligence.
  • Bullying can lead to costly recriminations and court cases. Any emotionally intelligent leader will wish to avoid this.

How you behave and communicate in the workplace (and at home and in the community) does matter.

Do you care enough to improve your emotional intelligence and not be seen as a bully?

Be a high EI leader and develop your emotional intelligence now.

Would you like to develop your emotionally intelligent leadership skills? Try our smart leadership coaching package, Face-to-face Online or in person in Perth, Western Australia.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop your emotional intelligence now.