Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bullying...Not Just for Kids Anymore.

We hear about it everyday.  Kids are bigger bullies now.  They are meaner and more hurtful and out for blood.  We have got to fix it.  We have to correct it.  We have to stop the bullying.
The very definition of bullying from is as follows:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Please note that this says "school aged children."

I know that I'm not a professional, but I very much disagree.

Most adults are uncomfortable with the term "adult bullying" because it comes with a feeling of being a child. I can see the logic in that.  I don't want to feel like a child, I don't want to feel weak and I certainly don't want it pointed out to me that I am being bullied.  Do you?
Didn't think so.

No matter what age you are, there will always be a bully somewhere.  As an adult, it's hard to recognize.  No one is stealing your lunch money or beating you up behind the monkey bars.  No, it's much sneakier than that.  Adult bullies tend to be opportunistic.  They attack people that they perceive as a threat.  They choose to target people who excel, who are generally likeable, who are capable and dedicated and successful, but who are also non confrontational.  We used to call this healthy competition.  But, it's escalated to much, much more.
A bully's goal is to intimidate, discredit, and gain control.  They do this via threats, exclusion, verbal abuse, ignoring, sarcasm, interruption and the very worst in my mind...with GOSSIP.  The rumor mill is a dangerous thing.  It destroys people.  It destroys their self worth.  It destroys their confidence. It can ultimately destroy a life.
Adults who are bullied often do nothing about it except keep their heads down and cry in the bathroom.  They feel afraid to tell someone for fear that no one will believe them or tell them that they are overreacting and it's just the dynamic of the group.  They often quit their jobs and end up living a life they didn't want because they almost have to let the bully win.  Sure, there are harassment clauses and human resource departments, but really?  Who wants to go in to their boss and say..."so and so is picking on me and it makes me uncomfortable"?  Not me.
The sad part is that in both situations...bullying is a learned behavior.  Kids learn it from their parents, who learned it from their parents.  These people can communicate, but not effectively.  The saying comes to mind "Great minds discuss ideas, small minds discuss people."  They often feel threatened or are unsure of their own self, since misery loves company, why not create more, right?
Whether in adults or children, it has to stop.  Now.
Well, in doing some research, I've found a list of things that adults can do to combat bullying from various websites:
1.  Consider the Source: Is this person someone who's opinion should really matter to you?   Probably not.
2.  Document.  Pay attention.  write it down.  Dates, times and what was said or done.
3.  Stay calm.  Chances are, if they can't fluster you visibly, they'll stop.  They're looking for a reaction.  Don't give them the satisfaction.
4.  Try not to take it personally.  Understand that the bully is acting out of desperation and lack of self esteem.  Try to feel compassion.  I know it's hard, but try.
5.  Assess yourself.  Are you helping them?  Are you being confrontational?  Are you silently bullying back?
6.  Get Support.  Tell someone.  Anyone.  Get it out in the open.  You'll feel better once you find someone you trust that understands.
7.  Last Resort...Remove yourself from the situation.  Ask to move your desk, to switch positions, to move to another department, or as much as I don't condone it, find a new employer.  If your employer won't support's time to move on.  You have to make healthy choices for you.
8. If none of these work.... offer to take your bully on a vacation to the bayou, the rainforest, the zoo, the continent of Africa and feed them to an alligator, venomous snake, hippopotamus or a lion.  Or just push them off the cruise ship and claim innocence.  That should work.
9.  Last but not least, Realize that YOU are a Child of God.  Go to Him.  Ask Him for patience, for support, for a solution.  He will not leave you comfortless or without aid.  You are His child and He does love you and want you to be happy.

So, there's that.  Now I'm off of my soapbox and going to go eat a cookie because I deserve it.

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