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Workplace Bullying (6) - Make a difference

People who are bullied or lonely at work are not really capable of changing the situation themselves.   If they do get included their reaction might reinforce negative opinions, because they might react by withdrawing or even by being offended.

It really is a vicious circle, although sometimes consistent kindness and positive attention can make a difference. Knowing that somebody is being bullied, and not being prepared to face the bully is possibly understandable, especially if the bully is the boss, but distancing yourself from the victim is not a solution, either.

When researching workplace bullying, I searched for articles on how colleagues can help people who are being bullied.   While most of what I found was aimed at children (and if we could stop it at school level, what a difference that would make), what was easily available focused on "don't participate in the bullying" or reporting the behaviour.   Both very valid, but could be considered high risk by both the victims and the concerned colleagues.    

They might make a long term difference.   However, even if those steps are taken, the victim needs active support and kindness, now.  The type of kindness that makes them realise they are not alone, and that other people care about them, have observed the destructive behaviour, and are on their side.

The power of the bully lies in the support of the group, tacit or active.   When a bully sees that other colleagues are supporting the victim, there is the possibility he/she might back off a little.

It is difficult to break through the barriers thrown up by the bullied:

  • When somebody regularly refuses to join a group for lunch, it is easier to stop asking.
  • When somebody is consistently failing to fulfil their job requirements and doesn't ask for help, it is easier not to get involved.

Thinking deeply about this has made me very aware that many of us might have been both a bully and a victim, at different times of our lives.   Very few people want to think of themselves as bullies, but not wanting to interfere can result in us being unwilling accomplices to the bullying.

I am not suggesting that everybody goes out and confronts all the bullies we know, but I am suggesting focusing on building a positive, inclusive, constructive work environment where it will be difficult for bullying to flourish.   And it starts with kindness.

This has been the most difficult blog I have written for many reasons.   The most challenging is that I don't want to minimise the issue in any way.    The quote below is one of the most quoted sayings ever, and it is one that resonates with me.   I am very much aware of how huge our societal changes have to be to eradicate bullying, but I also know that if we can change one person's life for the better, it has to be worth it.   This is a topic with no easy answers, but that doesn't mean we can't try.   Once more, to quote Ellen Degeneres, "be kind to one another".





It has been said that for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.  (Aked or Burke)

References and Links

Wikihow
Reachout - Australia
Accsys News
@TerylSchroenn




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