The Channel Bully

This is a true story, but I changed details to respect everyone’s privacy.

A director created a chat channel for non-work conversations. People could share pictures or puzzles or whatever else. It was fun. Then the Channel Bully showed up.

First, someone posted a puzzle. Someone else wrote a possible solution. The Channel Bully attacked. “We already know you think you’re so smart you can solve everything, you don’t need to tell us again.”

Nebojsa Tatomirov/

Next, someone shared a funny pun. The Bully struck again. “Please be more careful to use correct English. This sentence needs the Oxford comma.”

Folks stopped using the channel. Around the same time, several quit. The channel attacks were just one symptom of a broader problem.

A few comments like these can destroy a team’s willingness to collaborate. If people sense that a predator is about to pounce, they’ll find a wall to put their back against and stand there on guard. It’s hard to work with your teammates when your back is against a wall on the other side of the room.

Collaboration happens when team members sense that their team protects them. It stops when they sense that their teammates will attack them.

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