"It's the people who always dish it out, that can never take it."
The memory of my mother's voice uttering those words is fresh in my mind. And now other words are boiling in my mind and I have to let them out.
But first, a disclaimer. The words I am about to write are directly related to the following: national events, world events, Facebook status updates, Tweets, and daily conversations. This status update is not directed at any one person. If, at any time you feel this about you, I suggest you seek professional help. Perhaps you have a guilty conscience. However, I will be giving credit to those who directly inspired me to write this entry.
Sad isn't it that I have to begin an entry with a disclaimer? The way things are today, someone will be offended by my words. Oh well...I am tired of being silent. My silence serves no purpose.
Recently, two things took place that caused a paradigm shift in my thinking. One was a comment made by a high school class mate, the other was made by my cousin. Upon reading about my childhood, the classmate strongly (and rightfully) applauded my decision to break my pattern of silence and speak up. Thank you. In a different update, my cousin recently observed that perhaps I missed my calling as a writer. On the contrary, I believe I am finally answering it.
I see by the clock on the wall my lunch hour is over. Stayed tuned...I will be back to pick up where I left off.
Okay, picking this up.
With bullies, there is no gray area. It's pretty black and white. Their end goal is to inflict pain. They enjoy it. It pleases them. So let's just
Because that's what they are.
Personally I have a long history with bullies. As a child I had my share of their tactics. So did my younger sister. On a regular basis she came home from school in tears, the victim of yet another bully. Mom was working so it was I who stepped in to console and comfort her; wiping tears away while her sobs shook her little body in my arms. At night, I could hear her muffled sobs in her bedroom directly above mine. Instinctively, I got out of bed, walked up the stairs of the basement and went to her, fully understanding her pain. I just wanted to be a sponge and absorb it all away. Mom raised the roof at the school to no avail. This went on until the day my sister finally had enough, fought back and stood up to him. He never bothered her again. The same worked for me; the times I confronted a bully, she immediately backed down. It took her completely by surprise, and she was blissfully unaware of how she affected me. On one occasion I confronted a bully at work, and when the shock of being called out wore off, she switched to tears and laid a pile of excuses at my feet for her behavior. I gave her a hug because I knew it was what she needed at that moment. But she never changed or stopped the bullying behavior. She just found another target and continued to spread her toxic waste into the environment.
Bullies are everywhere. We all know they exist in school. The internet is a breeding ground for bullies and trolls. No one is safe, not when the bully or troll can hide behind the anonymity of a computer screen or smart phone. Actress Ashley Judd recently wrote an article about bullies after she was attacked repeatedly on Twitter for making a comment about a college basketball game. The things men and women posted about her was dispictable and unexcusable. Petty and childish. A game the bully knows and plays well. No reasonable minded, healthy, mature person over the age of 21 behaves with that kind of malice.
Bullies in the work place are so common companies must address the problem through policies, actionable steps and training. A few years ago I read that supervisors spend at least 20 percent of their time dealing with the fallout from bullies (aka toxic people...let's face it, they are one and the same). That's 8 hours a week; one whole day, wasted. All because some unhappy person lacks impulse control. Or engages in gossip. The bigger the company, the more bullies are present. Bullies and their negative behavior directly affect a company's bottom line. They hamper productivity, cause high turnover rates, ruin company morale, and can ultimately destroy an organization's credibility. Their behavior costs employers money. If not appropriately addressed a company can find themselves at the wrong end of an expensive lawsuit. That's just within the private sector. Now let's consider all the branches of government: cities, counties, states, and federal. You got people dealing with bullies there as well.
Is it any wonder our country is in such a huge mess?
Where does it start? Where does it end? We all know how horrible the problem is in schools. This year alone I personally know of three people directly affected by a bully in school. And sadly, all three of the targets of the bullying suffered until they finally put an end to it by ending their life. Only then did the bullying stop.
Why did it have to come to that?
The thing about bullies is they often won't own up to their behavior; they refuse to be held responsible, blaming their actions on outside influences. They pass off their bad behavior with rhetoric and excuses, such as "I'm having a bad day," or "I'm stressed out because _____", or "I'm worried about ________." They are masters at deflecting the blame away from themselves.
So what can we do about it? Educate yourself. As with any social problem, ignorance is the enemy.
Know how to identify a bully or toxic personality. 1) They're controlling. 2) They gossip. 3) They lie. 4) They play the victim. 5) They always come first, and don't think about your feelings. 6) They're negative, critical, judgmental because they lack emotional intelligence. 7) They are arrogant, selfish and deny being a bully. 8) They are always right. 9) They violate your boundaries and they never respect 'no'. 10) It's always about them, and what they think, and want, and feel.
Arm yourself with reliable information. Practice emotional intelligence. There are many excellent resources available on-line.
7 Smart Ways To Deal With Toxic People
12 Ways Successful People Handle Toxic People
Emotional Intelligence - Psychology Today
Emotional intelligence (EQ)
But most of all, speak up. Silence is not the solution to dealing with a bully. Whether at school, at work, or within a circle of family or friends. This is not a case where silence is golden. What you allow, will continue.
That's what a bully is counting on.
Thank you to Kathi and Kathy for sharing your stories about the two students who were bullied. I think about them and their families every day. It is my hope that these words help someone in need, and prevent another tragedy from happening.
And to the brave mothers I know who are building their child's coping skills tool box while they deal with a bully at school or in the neighborhood, I applaud and commend you. Father's too. You are doing the right thing, and practicing emotional intelligence.