How to train your boss

I recently wrote a 30Seats post on the parallels between applied behavior analysis techniques commonly used in treating autistic children and “handling” a boss who can be difficult.

Today, Seth Godin writes a more colorful post addressing one of the key points — not reacting to bad behavior at all — in the context of a workplace bully.

The basic model that behavior analysts start with is this: ABC.

  • A – What was the action that triggered the behavior?
  • B – What was the behavior?
  • C – What was the consequence of that behavior?

Under a simple example, a child may interpret shouting and scolding as just attention, which might be desired, and not make the connection between positive and negative attention. That’s why Seth’s advice is to walk away (cf. ignore undesirable behavior) when a workplace bully starts ranting. Getting upset — angry, sad, or frightened — is likely to actually reinforce the bully’s behavior and lead to more of the same.

This attention to behavior is one more thing I’ve learned from autism.