Monday, July 12, 2010

Bully for you?

You know, when I heard recently that school bullying had resulted in yet one more poor kid resorting to suicide, I was shocked, really shocked.

Unlike my school days in the 70's, kids now not only have to suffer the degradation of being filmed while being bashed senseless in the school yard - but they're forced to relive it all over again (and again and again...) due to the pathetic bystanders, sitting on the sidelines like jackals, who upload the victim's humiliation straight to the internet. I find myself wondering what sort of an environment these kids come from and what their parents must be like. But that's a Pandora's Box that I'm not about to open today.

[As you read on, please feel free to delete the word 'bully' and insert the word 'coward'].

Sadly, the bully virus continues to infect a certain type of individual from childhood through to adulthood. Some carry the disease without showing any obvious signs of their condition until they spray their vile contagion upon an unsuspecting colleague/s. Typically, those poor unfortunates targeted for contamination by these creatures are maligned if they dare attempt to report the symptoms.

Bullying of any kind is abhorrent to me. It appears within the workplace under many guises. The classic is the top-down bully usually associated with an overbearing, physically intimidating male manager or supervisor - the embodiment of the schoolyard bully who never grew out of it. There's also 'upwards' bullying where individual supervisors or managers are targeted by a 'mob' type mentality amongst a group of, usually well-organised, disgruntled staff. But it doesn't end there. There are plenty of less obvious derivations.

In recent years I've learned that there is an alarming tendency for women to be bullied by other women, one–on-one, in the workplace. Based on the examples discussed with me, victims are usually bright, motivated, energetic and, above all, friendly women who find themselves suddenly dropped within the sphere of control or influence of a woman/or women (because, yes, some travel in packs - often referred to as a coven) with absolutely no regard for new arrivals, preferring instead to suffocate their victims rather than welcoming or encouraging them.

I can name at least half a dozen amongst our closest friends who at some point have been targeted like this. The usual treatment, I'm told, includes outright abuse, derision, intimidation, obstruction, humiliation - the list goes on. In every case it was relentless and no amount of remonstration made the slightest difference at all.

If anything, singling out the bully only made things worse. Some victims were prescribed medication to help them cope. Others were forced to take leave, before going back in to confront the antagonist once and for all... no matter what the cost. However, in every case, the situation became so untenable that the only option was resignation, without any acknowledgement by management of the treatment they'd been subjected to or even a commitment to actually addressing the issue and extracting said bully from their position of influence.

So, bullying isn't always found at the end of a fist. There are many other malicious blows that can be thrown by adults in the workplace.

No matter what form it takes, bullying is ugly, cowardly and totally unacceptable and every one of us has a moral obligation to ensure that it is not tolerated.

So what are your views on bullying? Have you been targeted by a bully? Or, have you been able to take a stand and do something about it?

All the best,


Find me on Linked In
Follow me on Twitter