Belittling others, abusing power, making people fearful amount to bullying; we should call it out.
When someone bullies someone else, the impact on the recipient can be profound. Instances of bullying in any environment should be torn out by the root. From a cultural perspective, Tom Landry (Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys) has it right when he says: "You Get what you demand. You Encourage what you tolerate".
Why do some people bully other people? I am hearing more and more these days about bullying and the highly negative impacts it has on people’s lives. Bullying at school, bullying on social media (sometimes through anonymity), bullying in sport, and bullying in the workplace. Sometimes leading to, in the worst cases, suicide.
With Weinstein, as well as the awful sexual abuse, at the heart of his behaviour was a bullying culture and the belittling of others using his position of power. It really triggers a strong emotion in me.
Thinking about it, it’s making me wonder whether some of these protagonists know if they’re bullying or not. When they’re doing it. I guess a lot do but I also wonder if it is a big blind spot for many others. I would hope, with my strong faith in humanity, that the latter is more the truth. But also whether those who’re doing it are only doing it to make themselves feel better about their own lives.
There are many definitions of bullying; here is one: “Use of superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.”
In simple terms: if a person or group are using either a position, physical dominance, workplace superiority, other forms of authority, or in some cases social media anonymity, to make someone else feel belittled, undermined or fearful - to the extent where it has a detrimental effect on one’s self confidence and self worth in the world - then this is bullying.
In many cases this behaviour, from one to another, leads to the recipient suffering in quite significant ways; e.g. from panic attacks, developing generalised anxiety and ultimately depression - to such a level that they need to change significant aspects of their life to remove themselves from the situation.
More often than not, the person doing the bullying will have low inner confidence or low self worth themselves, or can often be being bullied themselves. It can sometimes be a pure transference on to others of how badly they feel about themselves, their own insecurities and weaknesses. Because it helps them feel more superior by bringing others down.
With the focus of Mental Health Awareness week being about stress, I feel confident in saying that a large amount of stress people feel is a direct result of the way others make them feel. If this is sustained for a period of time then it can only be described as bullying.
To me, there is never, ever, an excuse to bully another person. Never, ever, an excuse to consciously make someone else feel low. Never, ever, an excuse to do things that impact others’ self esteem. As the Dalai Lama said: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I love this quote because it is basically saying we all have a choice. In the moment. To be kind to the people around us.
Often this is less about what we do but more about how we do it. Sometimes a difficult message has to be delivered; but then the skill is more in how we deliver it. So that the person receiving it can leave the situation with their dignity intact and feeling that they can still move forward.
If there are times in your life when you feel you are being bullied - whether the person acknowledges it or not - call it out. Don’t accept it. Tell them how they’re making you feel. If you have the opportunity to remove it, tear it out by the root.
Like the #metoo campaign, we should all start to raise awareness of bullying when and where we see it so that we can make sure it is dealt with in a way that ensures people don’t suffer in silence.