Last week I encountered a business bully, except it was personal and they just happened to also be a business person. Someone with deep pockets who tried to "scare me" as he put it. He finally apologized but I have thought deeply about how often in my career this has happened, largely because I am a woman or a small business owner. There are a lot of dishonest people around. People who deliberately don't pay bills as they know it costs more to sue someone, or those who are just not nice people and want to be bullies because they get kicks out of it.

I use to be scared of this and get anxiety over it. I use to fall apart and perhaps even shed a few tears.
Is it too hard to beat a business bully?

But this week, I didn't. It didn't matter to me how much money they had, they were wrong, and just trying to bully me to get exactly what they wanted out of me. Most bullies are control freaks. That means they need to control every situation. They control contact, they control what is said and when they use their power and influence to control you and others so that they can display just how powerful they really are.

These people unfortunately usually rise to the top. They hit the jackpot by being the richest or most successful people. They use their bullying to get what they want and out manipulate the people around them. And it works. Otherwise it plays out in the media and usually no-one really wins.

It's like any war - no-one wins.

Sooner or later, we all just end up working with or dealing with a bully. It may be emotionally or intellectually but it has the same impact. The one thing that most of these people have in common is that they are powerful, so the pressure they put on the person they are bullying is insurmountable and usually the weaker party cannot win.

But the same bully taught me a couple of years ago a few things on how to tackle bullies. I think I almost fell immediately in love with him when he gave me advice as there are two ways to deal with it: handle it yourself with a level head and learn from the experience, or do it knowing that the more powerful friend is right behind you.

So, I tackled it exactly like this: I am doing it myself but I know more powerful people are behind me backing me 100% of the way and willing to do whatever it takes to look after my best interests.

Being manipulated is hurtful and soul destroying. Knowing you are dealing with a bully can really get you down in the dumps. Even though through a forced apology, I received a double-edged one via text yesterday, I left the office and walked to my hotel in tears and had to go straight to sleep. It was too much for me to handle. This is not what you want out of life. You want kindness and happiness, and great people around you and if you trust someone, it's really hard to give that trust away.

I am fortunate to have amazing people round me. I am very loved and very much cared for.

Yesterday, the Atlanta office surprised me all day long. They are dynamic, happy, smiley, fun, smart and thoughtful people. They even hand made me the most beautiful piece of jewellery that I will charish forever. As a business owner, who wouldn't be excited by having such a dynamic team of people who represent your brand?

I handled the situation the best I could collating important information from various sources that further confirmed that if they continued to bully me, I was in fact more powerful than they are just through honesty and the fact I have so much in writing. No-one wants to be that person, but you have to be in order to take a person like this head one. I had to copy every piece of correspondence from myself and others, and send off to 3 different parties so that it could be handled regardless of what bullying tactics may occur. Maybe by me setting an example, others will be less afraid of people just like this. They have no heart and they care only for themselves. They usually are narcissists and let me assure you, a narcissist will never see it any way but their own and every single thing will only be on their terms. They will never care enough to talk it through with you, or to listen to your perspective. Only their perspective counts.

I laughed when I saw that the identical text messages sent to me when the narcissist was trying to make me think I was over-reacting was sent to another person. Do they just copy and paste? Is it that easy? Do they use every single line the same way? Do they practice their moves and use it the same way? 

If you can study a narcissist you can beat them. It's just like a sports player. If they play the same way every game, and you study it and put them off their game, you will beat them.

Another important thing to note is that you may think you can stop dealing with a bully the moment you figured out their game, but a typical bully doesn't let go that easily. They have a  bagful of emotional tricks that they use to keep you in orbit and as long as they have last say, that is all that matters. So if you are fighting them and have ended up with the last say, don't think it is the end of it. It certainly won't be.

The secret of a bully is their charm and charisma. They begin all relationships working out you - getting inside by cold reading you. Mine did it be saying how normal he is and how he didn't like the typical popular things others do whether its holidays or where people live or what people buy. He also sold himself on wanting to spend the rest of his life giving all of his money away and going into communities in need and getting his hands dirty and helping them build a better future. Who would not fall for that? Interesting, its the same line he uses on everyone. I thought it was just me... but it's not. Powerful people also show their wit, compassion and intelligence - all of which makes you feel connected with them at a level that you possibly may not have experienced before. This happens in both business and in personal relationships.  They makes you like them and tries to make you dependent on his reactions. They decide when and if you see them, and how long it will be. They avoid arguments and if you ever do have one, they leave it a few days and pretend it never happens. Of course at work its a different story, their attack is lethal and can really ruin your day - all by design. The more they ruin your day, the more powerful they feel. It gives them the adrenelin to keep attacking.

It is a miserable experience to be stuck with a bully. And it’s hard to get yourself free. But you can — and you should. Here’s how:

  • Talk about it. If it is in business, talk to a mentor, a lawyer and other people that you can trust. Explain without missing out details. If you have written documentation, show them, so they can have a full overview rather than your interpretation of events.
  • Admit to yourself that you are being controlled and bullied with absolutely no respect to you as a person or care as to what outcome it has on you other than to provide hurt.
  • Put time aside to liberate yourself and get yourself out of the entangled relationship without letting them just win for winning sake and because you are too scared of them.
  • Look at other ways in which to deal with the problem. Sometimes fighting them head-on just means you will end up a loser. Depending on how well you know them and how ego centric they are, there are so many ways in which to tackle this problem and eventually get to a resolution.
  • Know that if you demand an apology, and their hand is forced it will not be a real apology - just a manufactured one that also will have something in it that gives them back control.
  • They are never sorry and they never care, you are just another number in which they have done this to before.

I am lucky and I have been born with a brain. I am emotional but in business I tend to have a more level head. In life, I think I leave all that level-headedness to the office and become a "girl". I get upset easily, I am emotional and very passionate about the things I love and care about.

If you hurt me personally, you really hurt me and perhaps that's where someone else will always win. I wish I could say I was that person who just walked away, but I am not. It stays buried in my heart and hurts a lot more often than I care to admit.

Don't let anyone bully you. Every bully deserves to be taught a lesson. I am going to teach "my bully" a valuable lesson that money can't buy. If you are not compassionate and you use people, you deserve to understand the impact that has on others. 

Be empowered, take a chance and never be afraid of another as long as you remain a good person with good morals. Or walk away and realize that you can't change people and the energy you give to the situation could be better used elsewhere.



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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.


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  • Jeff Thomas

    Mellissah, as I read your posts associated with the bully/narcissist, it was a bit like a flashback. We've been extremely fortunate to have great clients most of the time, but I had an encounter a couple of years ago that still stings a bit. Somehow I managed to maintain my integrity, keep my cool, and professionalism in tact, but it was brutally hard to do as this "gentleman" raked me and my amazing staff over the coals in as public a fashion as possible. Certainly he never apologized, but those close to me certainly circled the wagons and gave me assurances that the problem was not mine/ours, but his. I trust that you had the same. Tough stuff just makes you tougher, right? ;-)

    P.S. Since the incident I mentioned above, I discovered that his son and daughter, who were supposed to inherit his business, have both left the company, and the son has started his own competing business in order to "treat people fairly." Hard to imagine that man's life. Very sad indeed. Peace.

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