How to deal with Steamrollers, Bullies and Autocrats

Do you have a bully in your life?  Someone who interrupts you constantly and makes you feel terrible. These Toxic People are called steamrollers and can also be known as exploders, dominators, tyrants, dictators, bullies, autocrats, oppressors, persecutors, or tormenters. We have all had a few of these in our lives as a parent, boss, colleague, or friend.  They are not much fun to be around and create stress in our lives.

Problem: Your anger allows this behavior to continue because you’ve tried everything.

Solution: Take personal responsibility for changing the outcome with these toxic people by learning more about them.

They are easy to identify. They like to rule from a command post and attack without warning so they are in the power position.  Typically, they are fast to attack and quick to anger. When the Steamroller is angered, they are loud and their volume is usually elevated to command attention.

• Don’t expect me to be part of the charm brigade.

• I won’t give you a fair break no matter how hard you try.

• Give in to me and I won’t hurt you.

Steamrollers have figured out that this surly behavior works and they really don’t care if they are liked. Steamrollers don’t have to take responsibility.  They like being feared because people leave them alone.

Want to survive the Steamroller? Train yourself to be firm and direct while maintaining graciousness.

  1. Listen and be patient.
  2. When they are on the path of confrontation, wait, pause, and think.
  3. Use their name to get their attention.
  4. Keep direct eye contact without glaring or giving them a surly look.
  5. Change your language to:

–      “It seems we’ve reached a dead end here.  Let me think over your ideas.”

–      “You may be right. Help me understand where you are coming from.”

–      “As professionals, I know this is something we can resolve. Wouldn’t you agree?”

It’s time to take personal accountability for managing  Steamrollers!

PS: Did you know that testosterone might make women nicer?,2933,589342,00.html


For my New Jersey/New York friends: Can you join us?

Society of Information Management: Delivering Business Value Through IT Leadership

I’ll be presenting Decontaminating Toxic People without Using Weapons or Duct Tape  5:00P – 8:00P For more information:


For my Arizona friends – Come join the International Virtual Assistants Association in Phoenix. I will be presenting the opening and closing keynotes! For more information, please visit

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