Bullying is illegal! In Australia significant bullying is covered by ‘Brodie’s Law’ as well as Stalking and is a criminal offense. However most bullying apparently falls into the civil law domain. Either way in theory, the law protects us from being bullied.
Yet the ‘reality’ is that many, to my horror, ‘instigators’ get away with bullying and many ‘targets’ accept it as part of life and often are ‘instigators’ in turn. Thus despite bullying being illegal and the broad use of anti-bullying programs bullying is still rife in our society. As a consequence learning how to manage feelings of being bullied is critical.
The reasons to manage feelings of being bullied, effectively, are important because disrespectful discourse, let alone bullying, is demonstrated to have profound impact on individuals’ health and wellbeing, including physical, mental and social health. In organisations the impact is compounded by reduced member engagement, productive and profit. For a more satisfying and productive life and organisations, it is time to deal with the issue of disrespectful communication and bullying.
Many people see no point in developing the relevant understanding and skills, for these people bullying tactics are accepted as normal and appropriate behavior, not as ‘bullying’. I am aware of five main reasons for this:
- Bullying is so common placed it is accepted as normal practice.
- A lack of skills in distinguishing abusive and bullying behaviors from respectful communication.
- A lack of knowledge and skills to deal with bullying effectively.
- A lack of willingness to address the issue.
- Difficulty in providing evidence.
As a consequence, while a respectful communication is ideal, other methods for managing feelings of being bullied are required. Steps to managing feelings of being bullied are to:
- Ensure one has a clear understanding of what bullying and abusive behaviors are.
- Know relevant policies and procedures for dealing appropriately with bullying.
- Develop relevant communication and achievement skills.
- Acknowledge the feeling and objectively examine them when they occur.
- Articulate the experience and feeling effectively.
- Respond selectively and effectively to bullying experiences.
- Have the courage to address the experience and potential outcome of doing so.
Most of these steps are clear and apparent, however the 7th may be unexpected. I listed courage for addressing managing feelings of being bullied for two critical reasons.
Firstly to do so is going against the current social norm. While bullying is illegal it is still accepted as normal behavior. Excuses and justification are rife. As a consequence most bullying is currently swept under the carpet. It is not easy to go against the norm, to reveal the hidden dirt; as a consequence many don’t what to deal with.
Secondly it means facing our own inner reality and behaviors, such that we must face our own struggles, lack of skill and take responsibility for them and our own life. It means moving away form blame by claiming our own power and being willing to be held accountable for our own experiences and actions. This is essential for respectful communication and achievement. Accepting this responsibility also requires understanding and acceptance that it is journey of growth that empowers us to a more satisfying life.
I have simplified the above steps, to managing feelings of being bullied, into three key steps:
- By having clear understanding of what bullying is and effective methods for dealing with it.
- Managing your feelings and behaviors in your own best interest.
- Responding selectively and effectively to ‘instigators’ behaviors.
I will address each of these steps in following articles. The question for you right now is are you prepared to be courageous enough to face yourself so you can effectively learn and develop appropriate communication and achievement skills to up hold our social ‘ideology’ against bullying.