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4 direct responses to bullying behaviour

The direct response to bullying behaviour is about saying something when you see it occur to promote behaviour change. This is the foundation of dealing with inappropriate behaviour. Four types
of responses that could be used along with six different strategies appear in my book. The options (p82) and strategies are:

  • Coaching by either questioning (p116) what is going on or discussing how the behaviour is eroding (p105) respect and the relationship.
  • Challenging by referring to the expectations of the behaviour agreement (p105) or looking to swap the behaviour (p110) with an appropriate behaviour.
  • Reprimand by naming the behaviour (p103) to establish the expectation that it stops.
  • Consequences or punishment are issued. These consequences (p115) can be scaled in severity based on the severity and number of occurrences of the behaviour


  • Immediately address behaviour to ensure consequences occur straight after the behaviour making them more effective
  • Demonstrates to bystanders that behaviour not tolerated
  • Enables investigation into the specific incident to establish the possible underlying context for the behaviour
  • The target cannot be labelled an informer
  • Promotes a positive organisational culture
  • Based upon accepted behaviour agreement that can be established organisation wide


  • Requires the behaviour to occur where it is seen
  • Requires constant vigilance to identify behaviours
  • Focus is on behaviour seen and may not capture other behaviours prior to event
  • May not capture indirect or relationship bullying behaviour
  • Behaviour may be retaliation to prior events which victimises the target by receiving punishment while instigator gets no penalty
  • It can fail to recognise repetitive behaviours
  • Has difficulty handling group bullying behaviours
  • Needs to be consistently applied by everyone

Remember if nothing is done when it occurs, it will be assumed that the behaviour is okay to be used.
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