award-winning educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author/writer, program executive, and radio host
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The violent physical encounter between Kenya Moore and Porsha Stewart (Williams) has been viewed on YouTube and other media outlets approximately 1+ million times. This workplace physical confrontation is an ugly display, unnecessary, and beyond normal standards of acceptable behavior. This incident demonstrates the impact of allowing bullying actions and/or behaviors to go unresolved.
On Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), a couple of the stars (Kenya and Porsha) became entangled in words, actions, and behaviors after Kenya used various props (e.g., a scepter and bullhorn) to harass Porsha during the 2014 RHOA Reunion.
This incident between Kenya and Porsha started to escalate after Kenya used her scepter to point at Porsha during an exchange, which Porsha asked Kenya to stop doing several times to no avail. While disregarding Porsha’s requests, Kenya was unrelenting and continued to point her scepter until Porsha grabbed the scepter from Kenya and threw it aggressively on the floor. This action led to Porsha beginning to lose her composure and it also sent a stern warning to Kenya that her aggressive behavior was not wanted, desired, or acceptable. Moreover, the leader at the reunion (Andy Cohen – The Real Housewives executive producer) did not do anything to deescalate the situation at this point and also appeared to noticeably enjoy the exchange between the reality stars.
Nevertheless, Kenya did not interpret Porsha’s reaction as feedback that her behavior was not welcomed; instead, Kenya escalated her aggressive actions and behaviors to include the use of a bullhorn to speak to Porsha who was only a few feet away. In responding to Kenya’s escalating taunts, Porsha firmly told Kenya to discontinue her actions and behaviors directed at her. After some escalating comments, the two (2) women became physically intertwined and fell to the floor during the exchange.
It was only at the point that both women became physically close to each other did Andy make his first attempt to deescalate the encounter; however, the incident had already exceeded its control limits and became an unfortunate display of immature and unacceptable behavior.
This incident could and should have been avoided. First, both women – who had a history of animosity toward each other – should not have been seated close to each other, especially with Kenya’s previous use of props to make her points and provoke
some of the other stars on the show. Second, once Kenya started to use props that were clearly annoying to Porsha, Andy (as the leader) should have directed Kenya to stop violating Porsha’s physical space. Since neither Andy nor anyone else on the set did anything to intervene to prevent the unfortunate physical encounter … everyone present is culpable. Third, once Kenya escalated her aggressive behavior (with the use of the bullhorn) this was another missed opportunity to deescalate the increasing volatile situation, as there was a clear intent to further harass. The final missed opportunity was the lack of
separation by time and distance between Kenya and Porsha (given their previous history) as soon as both entered into each other’s personal space.
Individuals – especially leaders – have a responsibility to attempt to deescalate a situation long before it becomes out-of-control. Furthermore, everyone should be trained on conflict resolution, including the identifiers of escalating conflict and
actions that can be taken to prevent further escalation.
Kenya’s and Porsha’s physical incident was a terrible demonstration of a lack of decorum, rational thinking, and maturity.
Conflicts will not always be settled amicably; however, there is never an excuse for any conflict to become physical. Moreover, any organization that allows any type of bullying actions and/or behaviors to go unchallenged actually sanctions it; therefore, every organization should ensure that inappropriate, unwanted, and unnecessary incidents do not escalate due to missed opportunities to timely address a situation, which can also minimize any harassing, intimidating, and/or threatening actions and/or behaviors.
Additional information on workplace bullying can be obtained in my book "Bullies...They're In Your Office Too: Could you be one?" which details workplace bullying issues along with thoughtful solutions.