Anti-Bullying Week

Next Monday sees the beginning of Anti-Bullying week, which has been extended this year to a fortnight, presumably because we are suffering so much from this problem at the moment.

Now, many people are going to be talking about the various bullying situations in and around our schools during this time, and I am sure I will be agreeing with much that is said and offering help where I can to those that are suffering, but I would like you to expand your mind for just a moment.

Whilst children are indeed bullied, and it can be a problem that forms you for life at that age, there are a few other groups that are suffering too. We should equally extend our hand of support and assistance to those groups. So who am I thinking about?

First, the bullied person at work. Managers have long known that to use only a stick does not get the best from your employees, carrots don’t seem to work well either, as Dan Pink has shown in his excellent TED speech here http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html .

No one should be in a position at work where they have to tolerate a superior abusing their power. Camouflaged as “managing” it may be, but you know when this changes from a way to manage the worst employees and becomes something else. Like all dominating styles of social interaction, the problem is that if someone is exposed to it long enough, and it is, however tacitly, condoned from above, the behaviour becomes accepted and acceptable.

It isn’t, and should never be. If you feel you are being unfairly treated at work by a manager, then speak up. There will be ten like you. If you see it around you, then speak up if not directly to that manager, at least report it. Once this happens, companies are obliged to investigate. If we rid ourselves of the atmosphere of fear surrounding these bullies who use a job as leverage for their behaviour, maybe then we can finally see work places that are not like the school-yards of which we so disapprove.

The second group I am thinking of is within intimate relationships. It is here that you should feel the most nurtured, the safest and loved.  Your partner should be your greatest advocate, your rock and motivation. If they are in anyway denigrating, if they railroad you into decisions you do not want to make, if they are always getting their way and never really listen, then there is a problem.

Fortunately, this group is one that can be most directly changed. Unlike most areas of bullying, where the culprit is outside your influence, here the bully can often be appealed to, and convinced to seek help. Often, bullying behaviour is rooted in a learnt habit or early experience that has created this pattern within them. Once understood and reconciled deep down, the habits are changed almost immediately. This can even apply to those who have tipped the balance into violent behaviour.

When bullies are able to seek help with an open mind and honest self-awareness, then changes can happen, even quite quickly. Problems from years can change in just weeks. It can be some of the most life-changing work I do, and it is beautiful to watch a couple begin a new and much more joyous chapter in their relationship.

If only we could get companies and schools to offer similar help for the bullies in their environments.

As ever, I value your opinion. To tell me what I have missed, or where I am right or wrong, mail me at jeremy@wanttochange.me