Bullying - take action now
Adults can be bullied too. This can come as a revelation to many people. Often we just think that we are weak, or that we should stand up for ourselves, or that the fault is ours. Whether it's with a family member, a work colleague or even a friend, we can all have relationships in which we are or feel bullied.
Let us take a minute to talk about what bullying is. In its simplest form it is when a person (or group) is deliberately cruel to another person for any reason. Bullying by adults takes many forms; there is physical bullying either the use or threat of force; we also see verbal bullying where demeaning language is used to humiliate and attack. Often you see secondary bullying as others join in with the principle bully; sometimes they are acting to protect themselves, but the effect on the victim is the same. These can take place in any forum in your life not just the workplace.
Adult bullies differ from their childhood counterparts in one important respect; they can be sly when it comes to the presentation. They might be in authority, or present their opinion as fact and so forth. Yet it all comes down to the same thing: bullying.
Fortunately there are some practical steps to take.
It may be possible to talk to the bully; perhaps they are not aware of how their behaviour is making you feel. Perhaps there is value in taking them aside and asking them to stop. Be clear about the behaviour you find unacceptable by being specific. You should only do this if you feel that you can approach them and do not feel physically threatened by them.
You may be able to avoid the bully; this strategy can be particularly useful on social media where you can block others so they cannot ‘see‘ you.
Often a bully will 'act out' to get a reaction from you. If you rob them of their reward by not reacting, you will send the message that you will not be manipulated by their taunts. This will require a great deal from you to remain calm to let the taunts flow over you and to be able to walk away without retaliating.
There are some occasions when bullying and harassment is an offence and you can get help from your employer, the police or the council to get help. Examples are bullying at work, unsocial behaviour and the use of social media in a sexist, racist or offensive way that is contrary to local laws. Similarly, you can report harassment to the social media companies. So, if possible, think about how you can ask for help and whether there is a chance to gather evidence (emails/ printing the screen etc).
Bullying can be a devastating and lonely experience that stretches its icy fingers into every area of your life. It can be helpful to get support by talking through your feelings with a friend or family member or a counsellor while you work out what you would like to do.
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