Comment: What is it in the make-up of certain individuals that they seem to enjoy making the lives of others around them in school, sport or work as miserable as possible? Are they wired wrong or are they just plain nasty?
Like most readers I have been bullied and have, probably, and to my shame bullied others on a few occasions, whether intentionally or not.
Bullying can be quite a subjective feeling. One person’s perception of being bullied could be another person’s feeling of receiving strong direction and leadership, something they appreciate in the work day or even in a relationship.
Growing up with corporal punishment in schools, going to a boys-only school and living with domestic violence as a child I am well aware of the behaviour of bullies. The worst bullies I experienced as a child were, of course, my teachers, who would cane at the drop of a hat. Of course we all accepted this as we did not know any better. The sad case was that most of these men were otherwise brilliant teachers. Caning was the norm in many schools in those days. Six of the best was the norm.
Being bullied by other pupils was, for some, absolutely terrible. I do not remember it being an issue for me but it may have been. I know that I grew up with a kind of chip on my shoulder about being pushed around by anyone. As a child and teenager I would usually push back twice as hard. As an adult I, of course, found other, more mature and subtle, ways of sorting out those who tried to bully me.
It is a fact that bullying can kill. We read about it every day.
Some, tragically teenagers, cannot cope and take their own lives. This is so sad and the people who drove these people to such extreme measures are, in my eyes, criminals, no matter their age or position in life.
Not all of us are strong enough to deal with bullying. Also bullies are very adept at disguising their behaviour. They can never acknowledge their bullying as they really do not see the issue. It takes strong leadership and management practices to address such behaviour in the work place. Sadly many senior people in the position of doing something about their bullying managers choose not to, letting matters run their normal course with the bullied usually leaving the organisation, sometimes with major health issues.
The manager is worth more to the organisation than the worker so no real problem. Of course some senior managers recognise kindred spirits in their bullying junior managers.
Some victims are strong enough to call out the behaviours of their errant “betters” but then pay with being either ostracised by management or put through a performance management plan in the hope that the employee will leave or that a mistake will be made by the employee during the programme, enabling the employee to be let go. All of this for a victim of bullying who is just standing up for his or her rights.
Bullying is not a one-way street in the work place. As a line supervisor in another life I have been bullied by staff and have had to be very firm about where they were going with their behaviour. It usually involved a closed door session with their support person, because bullies like support people, and me pointing out in fair, frank and clear terms how our relationship works.
Of course, there are useless employees who are square pegs in round holes and who have little insight into their own ability or lack of when it comes to doing tasks they are paid to do. Some of these employees also are very quick to pull the bullying card when they are asked to do their job or when a manager or co-worker offers to help them learn how to do their job. Every decent business owner or manager who has been around for a while will recall these types. Quick to claim bullying when all they are being asked to do is their job but then quick to seek redress when they feel slighted or end up being moved on.
This potentially involves litigation, stress and expense for the, often, small business owner, and a reinforcing of the “victim” mentality for the useless ex-employee of the unfortunate employer defendant.
Finally if you know of someone being unjustifiably bullied either in the workplace or elsewhere be strong enough to stand up for them if they are unable to do this themselves. Bullies hate being confronted and challenged about their behaviours. There is something in their makeup that also usually makes them cowards.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE or free text 4357 (HELP (available 24/7
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202