Hastywords has recently encouraged a conversation across social media regarding bullying, you can find her blog here Turning Tears and Laughter into Words and follow her face book page here. Having read through many of the posts and comments I have felt lead to weigh in on this issue.
Speaking from experience, I was bullied mercilessly during my senior year in high school back in the early 1980’s. Being a smaller guy with curly hair gave my tormentors a lot to aim at, not to mention that I was dating a girl that the one guy wanted to date. Bullying has been around in one form or another for as long as humans have inhabited this planet.
I share my perspective from the point of view of experiencing the behavior and the effects on my life at a young age. Also, in my “day job” I have worked in human resources for going on 20 years now. Most recently as a Labor Relations Manager and now as the HR Director for the current organization in which I work.
Note: I do not blog much, if at all about my job as much of what I do is confidential personnel stuff and I will not allow what I do to support my family be the only thing that defines who I am. See my avatar profile.
To reiterate, I have been bullied as a “victim” if you will and I have worked closely with people on both sides in situations where the issue of bullying has been raised. In my experience no two situations are the same and a one-size solution does not fit all scenarios. Some circumstances resulted in mediation efforts between the parties and in final agreements to move forward. Others unfortunately resulted in resignations and some in disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.
Let’s try and define what bullying is and what it isn’t. The following was taken from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries website.
… bullying is a pattern of behavior that harms, intimidates, undermines, offends, degrades or humiliates … possibly in front of other employees, clients or customers. It is a serious health and safety issue. The targets of bullying may suffer from physical and mental health problems that can last for many years. …bullying often involves an abuse of misuse of power. “Tough” or “demanding” bosses are not necessarily bullies as long as they are respectful and fair and their goal is to get the best performance by setting high yet reasonable expectations for working safely. Bullying in general is not illegal in the U.S. unless it involves harassment based on race/color, religion, national origin, sex, age (over 40), marital status, disability, sexual orientation/gender identity, Veteran/military status or any other protected class.
The entire issue of bullying can and often is, fraught with trap doors and complications.
Yes, bullying is wrong and in a perfect world would never happen but we live in a fallen world. We, each one of us has the responsibility, must do all we can to eliminate it from our society and at the very least to confront it when it occurs. We must not only hold the perpetrators accountable but also teach and model for our children a better way.
You are not a victim.
We must teach and role model for our children to not succumb to this type of behavior. They are strong and do not have to be a victim. It is too easy to assume a victim mentality in these situations. It is hard to remain strong and resolute in the face of such abuse and harassment, especially in situations where the offender has more power either physical, organizational, familial or any combination of. A person caught in this situation can easily begin to see every single behavior exhibited by the bully as purposefully done to torment them. In my experiences those instances are often infrequent. Most, not all, so called bullies are just plain inconsiderate and even mean unhappy individuals and severely lacking in any self-awareness. It can be a slippery slope to start thinking that every act an individual commits is carefully thought out and directed towards us and our demise. We can torment ourselves thinking some one is out to get us, plotting and scheming all time against us. When the simple truth is, they rarely think of us at all, sometimes we have created our own hell.
You are not a victim.
Some cases come down to a simple, or not so simple, mistrust and dislike for each other. The behaviors become hostile, confrontational and emotionally charged arising from mere personality differences and the failure to respect and cherish those differences. However, dislike of a person is no excuse to engage in any type of bullying or harassing behavior. Yet, calling every person who does something either directly or indirectly to you that has a lasting effect a bully, seems like an easy excuse to not stand up and demand your rights.
You are not a victim.
I applaud those who stand up in the face of opposition and encourage others to do so also. Is it hard? Absolutely, I have watched men and women sob from the torment they are experiencing and it is wrong. We have an obligation to stand in the gap for those less fortunate than ourselves and to make a better world for them and our children.
I chose to just believe that grace wins and hope lives.