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Destination intimidation: The R & R Bully
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 06/13/2011

Young man looks mean Often, when we unravel a complex issue and place all the parts in order, it is gratifying. Imagine the relief that you get as a professional when an offender finally seems to understand your explanation about policy. Later, the issue comes alive again. The offender rehashes the issue as though you had never explained it.

There are few things more frustrating than someone resurrecting complains that you thought you clearly outlined and resolved earlier. One such manipulator does this. It is a sort of passive aggressive bullying. This tactic is called the retreat and rehash bully. (R & R bully). When you explain, they retreat. Later, they rehash.

The R&R bully presents his case in a generally complex way. For example, suppose that this is a offender who's not eligible for a certain service. The R&R will bring up every exception that he can conceive of. Often, they repeat the case over and over.

Only when the staff member closes the argument will be R&R bully seemed to retreat. However, correspondence or verbal requests come very soon after. Thus, the issues were never resolved, they were merely forestalled.

In the most excessive case, the R&R bully is never stated. If, for example, discretionary power allows for you to make an exception, the R&R bully records this event as the norm. If similar circumstance is denied, the R&R bully will rehash as though the non-mandated service is now and forever a right not to be denied.

Perhaps the R&R bully is not as obvious a danger to corrections professionals as it seems. Still, one can seem diminished and flustered by the unwavering insistence contrary to the facts of policy. In another sense, the R&R bully can be a pawn in the form of a diversion in a larger plan.

So, how does one derail the R&R bully? Here are a few tips:
  • Know policy.
  • Photocopy policy and highlight the part that best explains to the denial. Present it to the R&R bully when the need arises. As keen observers of detail and those able to ascertain patterns, we can generally tell when a person is likely to bring up an issue again.
  • Forestall a bit. Tell the aggrieved party to sit and take up the issue when there's a better time. You decide the time.
  • Have person write down exactly what the problem is. Instruct that the issue should be written in a clear, succinct manner. Tell the person to focus on the issue not on tangential matters.
  • Don't get knocked off your square when you hear the same issue over and over again. Arguers gain strength when you lose your composure.
  • Do not let the argument against your policy driven denial become a shouting match.
  • Recognize patterns and have your denial points ready in advance.
  • Always be prepared for new rehashings.
  • Remind the R&R bully that the issue is closed. Record the event in your log book. If and when they rehash, refer to your log book or your sharp memory to tell the arguer on which date the denial was initially issued.

No one really likes to be told “no”. Yet, that is a big part of corrections. Simply, many things are restricted for a good reason. Despite that, the retreat and rehash bully will return again and again. The million-dollar question in all of this is: will you be prepared to professionally deal with the retreat and rehash bully?

See a follow up article "Five Important Laws of Corrections"

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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