Friday, September 21, 2012

The Real Bully Problem

Bullying has been in the forefront of news and community movements for a couple of years now and I've always been on the fence about the best approach or solution to the problem. The focus over the past few years has been on stopping bullying but I'm not sure that's truly possible. I see too many adults participating in bullying for me to believe that these same adults can convince their children not to bully.

Adults certainly bully. We just don't call them bullies. We call him a jerk or we call her a bitch.

I have had several situations over the past year that I think would fall under bullying - rather, someone trying to bully. I've had a taller, larger male colleague step in very close towards me while trying to make his point in a heated discussion. While I was thinking "Hold up, is this dude stepping to me?", I had to suppress my "street" reaction and figure out how to navigate the situation like a professional. I put my hand up to stop him from getting any closer, said what I had to say, then walked out (which is basically my street reaction minus swears). Jokes aside, I had to set some boundaries to let this man know I was not going to tolerate certain behavior. And if he was going to talk to me in an aggressive way he wasn't going to be talking to me at all.

The work place can mirror the school playground. All of the players are there - the mean girls, the outcasts, the in crowd, the superstars and yes, the bullies. It never stops. When your parents told you things would be different when you got older, they lied. All this behavior carries into adulthood and the key things to know are how to navigate,  how to stand your ground, and how to give an intellectual smack down if you need to.

Now this isn't a cure all solution but I think it would help.

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