Responding to accusations of being a Bully!

The 10th of October is Mental Health Day!

Thus now is an ideal time to consider the issue of bullying.

Anti-bullying campaigns are everywhere these days.  And rightly so!  Bullying has a significant negative impact on mental health and numerous other aspects of life. However the anti-bullying programs appear to be lacking in effectiveness, as bullying is still a major issue for our society.

Part of this relates to issues around the commonly used definition of bullying which makes it relatively easy for ‘bullies’ to get away with their actions.  I suspect the intention behind the issues is to protect people from inaccurately being accused.  It is more effective to discuss what you can do when accused of being a ‘bully’ and you genuinely are not one?

The Australian Human Rights Commission (2017) states:

‘Bullying is when people repeatedly and intentionally use words or actions against someone or a group of people to cause distress and risk to their wellbeing.  These actions are usually done by people who have more influence or power over someone else, or who want to make someone else fell less powerful or helpless.’

The major issue with the definition when it states to intentionally…cause distress and risk to their wellbeing.  This is purely because individuals say  ‘I didn’t intend to distress them or risk their wellbeing’  ‘I did not intent to bully’.

As a result, too often, they get away with inappropriate behavior.  Individuals involve rarely intend to be a ‘bully’.  They don’t want the label.  And often there is no intent to ‘do harm or risk wellbeing’, simply because the idea may not have cross their minds. They are not thinking about the other at all.

What they are thinking of and do intend is to ‘have their own way’.  The do intend to use fear to gain control over others.  They do intend to use their, actual or perceived, position of power to ensure what they want is achieved.  They may intend to ‘get back’ at the perceived injustice that someone ‘would not go along with their wishes’ or ‘made them look bad’, for having done a perceived wrong.  These are the intentions of a ‘bully’.  These intentions result in the intimidating and coercive behaviors that cause the distress and risk to wellbeing.

Another, more useful, definition of Bullying is:

‘the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict (Juvonen, J. Graham, S., 2014).

Fully fledged bullies, while denying they are bullies, know they are doing the wrong thing.  Their timing and sneakiness indicates this.  They behave differently in front of others, especially those they perceive as having more power than themselves.  They hide and actively deny their actions.   Yet they believe they have the right to do as they do.

At the same time it does happen that people feel they are being bullied, treated inappropriately, when it is genuinely not intended.   Yet regardless of the intention when it is experienced as bullying the same negative impact can occur and it is important to deal constructively with the incident.  These situations maybe because:

The accused has poor relationship or communication skills or

The target’s individual perspective

Resulting in misunderstandings.

This reality highlights the need to remember that ‘Bullying usually is a relationship issue and thus relationship solutions are recommended’ (National Centre Against Bullying, 2017).  At the same time there is a limit to the potential effectiveness of relationship solutions.

If there is no mutuality in the relationship discussing the issue in the relationship is not likely to work.  Too often it only makes things worse for cooperative individuals. Someone who believes they have rights of dominance may ‘go along’ with the ‘orders’ from the higher power, but they are also likely to find another way to achieve their intention.   This escalates rather than resolves the issue.   In such cases further protective action is required on behalf of the ‘other’ or ‘target’.   These situations are not the focus of this article.

Today we look at when there is no intention of bullying, or harm, or force and there is respectful mutuality in the relationship.  In these situations the way to respond to accusations of bullying is very simple: Listen and then ADDE value.

You need to Listen to the accusation and accept that is the others experience, despite your intention. Respond to their experience.

Apologise this lets the other now you didn’t mean for them to experience what they did. This action also reminds you that you have made a mistake and need to take corrective action, even if it was only to increase awareness of the others perspective.

Demonstrate your good will by reassuring the other. This includes: addressing their concerns; explaining your intention; where appropriate explain the policies and procedures you are following; and ask for and carry out suitable actions to repair the harm. It may take time to build or rebuild trust.

Discuss the situation until both parties are clear and comfortable with the intention of the communication and relationship.

Enhance your skills in order to prevent a similar situation occurring again. It is very important to follow through. Where required, ensure skill development occurs.

If you have been accused of being a ‘bully’ first be honest with yourself, do you think you have the right to dictate to others?  Or perhaps you have a right to ‘get even’?  Do you treat those you perceive as having more power than yourself differently to those who you perceive to have less power than yourself?   If neither of these is the case and your intention is for a mutually respectful relationship, an appropriate response to an accusation of bullying is to Listen and ADDE value.

 

Australian Human Rights Commission NA What is bullying? https://www.humanrights.gov.au/what-bullying-violence-harassment-and-bullying-fact-sheet accessed 8th October 2017

Juvonen, J.; Graham, S. (2014). “Bullying in Schools: The Power of Bullies and the Plight of Victims”. Annual Review of Psychology. Annual Reviews. 65: 159–85. PMID 23937767doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115030.   Via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying

National Centre Against Bullying Definition of Bullying https://www.ncab.org.au/bullying-advice/bullying-for-parents/definition-of-bullying/ accessed 8th October 2017

 

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Living Your Values

These days there is a lot of talk about living your values.   How to live them is less discussed. Today I will share with you four keys to being able to live your values effectively.   Living your values is the most powerful way to communicate them to others.

To live your values effectively you first need to identify your personal values.

That is, what is important to you, not what others tell you is important. I repeat, what is important to YOU. What is it that matters to you the absolute most? What is it that makes life worth living for you? Select one, two or three things that you would be willing to give your all for.   What brings joy into your day?

For some people a value could be a principle such as honesty.   For others it could be groups or interactions for example their family. Yet others may find a practice or object could be what does it for them, perhaps they live for vintage cars or to play tennis.   Naturally a combination of values is common.

Next you need to be able to describe your values in a behavioural or objective manner. That is so that they can be recognised, especially, but not only, by you. What does the value look like when in action? This allows you to identify the actions that you need to take to be living in alignment with your values. For example if you value being a tennis player what level do you want, what skills do you need to learn?

One-way to identify your values is to look at what you already do, or intend to do, with your whole being.  Another is to look at others that you admire and clearly state what it is that they do that you admire.

Once you have identified at least one value and what it looks like you have the foundation for beginning to implement it in your life, to live it effectively. This could easily require you to change habits you currently practice and overcome obstacles in the way.

Living your personal values is not only practicing the required actions.

It is also important to be able to protect and nourish your ability to practice your values. For this it is necessary to consider the things that make it difficult to practice.  For example if honesty is something you value, yet you find you instinctively become protective and less open around some people.   This might mean that you need to consider who you spend your time with.

Practicing your values is more than saying I value this.

You also need to practice, protect and nourish them.

On the journey to living your values effectively you may find your values change or are refined.   Perhaps your true values simply become clearer for you as you live them day-to-day.

Living your values effectively allows you to communicate your values in your actions, be recognised for what is important to you, draws in others who also value what you do and as a consequence you get to live a fulfilled life. Enjoy!

The Power of Self-Determination

The Power of Self-Determination is in its role to support you in creating the life you want to live.  It is the most effective way to have a fulfilling and successful life.  Self-determination provides you with personal direction and protection.

To live a self-determined life it is necessary to take full ownership of your life.

This requires you to be willing to and to take responsibility for what you do, the impact you have on others and be held accountable for the consequences.  It requires you to know what you, as an individual, want, and how to achieve what you want.  Alternatively know how to gain the knowledge and skills to do so.

This in turn requires self-awareness and effective innermost communication.  That is the ability to recognise, understand, and act on your core needs, preferences and dreams, authentically and respectfully.  Self-determination provides direction by knowing what you want and how to action it so you can live your life for your personal satisfaction.

This does not mean life will be prefect and beautiful all the time.  Life challenges will still come your way.  There are many things none of us can control or determine.   So an important aspect of self-determination is recognising that we can’t control things outside our self.  We can take actions to protect ourselves, and influence what is happening outside our self, however unpredictable or unconsidered things and challenges will occur.

Self-determination embraces the unpredictableness of reality and accepts it is about how we respond to the unexpected that is important.   Accepting things and learning how to manage the challenges of life is another important aspect of self-determination.

The opposite of self-determination is when we are controlled and directed by others.   When we allow others to make decisions for us we have given our power over to them. There are those amongst us that are happy with this choice.  After all we are taught to do this.  If you are happy with your life all is well.

If however you aren’t so happy, content or satisfied with your life it is up to you to reclaim your life.  Make fresh decisions and claim ownership of your life, become self-determined such that you are experiencing a life that is more fulfilling for you.  It may not be easy, however it is possible to create a life you want.

You could blame others, and yes you could attempt to hold them responsible for what has happened.  Yet how does that serve you to become more self-determine?  To have a more satisfying life.   The truth is it doesn’t. It passes the buck[1] and gives you a reason for staying where you are.  It prevents you from being in control of your life and many will take advantage of this.

If you choose to live a self-determined life you have a valuable tool for reducing experiences of others taking advantage of you, having negative impact on you or controlling your life.  This is because when you clearly define yourself it provides you with a strong protection from the impact of others’ redirecting you, labelling you, as well as any attempts to confuse you.   The last two tactics are commonly used to make you more vulnerable to abuse.  Clearly defining yourself is the foundation for the development of skills for dealing with challenging and difficult people.

While self-determination is powerful for protecting us from others it is important to remember that we are dependent on our relationships, we need constructive relationships for a satisfying life.   This means it is important to care for your relationships in order to care for yourself.  Thus respect for yourself and others is essential to living a self–determined life.

Unfortunately many of us are not taught how to practice self-determination effectively. That is to make decisions and implement actions that fulfil our personal needs, practicing self-respect, while being respectful of others and their needs.  It is important to realise it is never too late to begin reclaiming your life.  I believe the act of self-determination is a process and that we develop continuously through out life, if we so choose.

Living a self-determined life will provide direction and pathway for a fulfilling life by knowing what you want and how to achieve it.  It means you embrace the unpredictableness of life and recognise it is how you respond to life that matters.  It also means you are accountable for the consequences of your actions and you have the ability to learn and adapt in order to meet your needs and challenges.  Self-determination also provides protection from others while being respectful. Self-determination provides you with personal direction and protection.  This is a very basic human right and responsibility.   To me being and becoming more self-determined is an important part of this journey we call life.

To learn more consider the up coming Power of Self-Determination Session and or Inner Most and Self-Determination course.

[1] Holding others accountable is important; this is different to passing the buck. Understanding the difference is important.

Manners: A better way?

What has happened to manners and being polite?  A question so commonly asked today. We need to be polite!   It was driven into many of us as children.   Say ‘please’ ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’.   It all sounds rather good and nice.  The problem was we were trained to do this.  That is ‘do it’ even when we don’t ‘mean it’.  Worse still he had to accept others insincere politeness and act on it!

Being polite and respectful somehow drifted into social correctness and insincerity. Rather than the appropriate respectful use of the phrases, please, thank you and sorry, the deep meaning of them has been lost.   Consideration of others drifted into self-denial and disrespect or worse.  Little white lies, some call it.  In the name of being kind!

 I don’t see how disrespect and insincerity are ‘good’ or ‘nice’ or ‘kind’. Do you?

‘Please’ a respectful request, to me, has almost become a begging.   Worse I have noticed often there is an element of expectation attached to it. I said ‘please’ so you have to do it. Ouch! What happened to the right to say no.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am all for requesting.  Demanding is not a first choice, it too takes away a right of choice. Y et sometimes, when boundaries are broken, a demand actually becomes appropriate.  I just think I don’t need to beg or expect my fulfilment from one particular source.  If you say no, I can ask someone else.

‘Please’ really is about letting the ‘other’ know they have a choice.   So the phrases:    Could you? Would you? Often seems more fitting to me.

‘Thank you’, an automatic couple of words so often empty and lacking a sense of gratitude.   Come on you know what I mean.   They said ‘thank you’ but was it a genuine appreciation or just empty words?

Appreciation radiates a sense of connection and satisfaction that draws one in, so we can do it all again.  That is what is it about.  We want to make a difference.

 Genuine appreciation and gratitude guides us to use our energy where it makes a difference.

Did you like it?   Did it make a difference for you?  If so, say ‘thank you’ with ‘meaning’ and draw that experience in some more.  Acknowledge what you like.  Say thank you with appreciation, so the source knows it wasn’t wasting its time and energy.  Believe me, you will experience more pleasure this way.

‘Oh sorry’, now I can do it all again.  What!  No that’s not what ‘sorry’ is about!  Yet isn’t that a really common practice today?  ‘I said sorry, what more do you want?’

Well actually I don’t like it, so I don’t want it.   I want to experience something different.

A genuine ‘sorry’ is about recognising an inappropriate action and correcting it.

The words are empty if there is no experiential difference for the ‘other’.  Yet this doesn’t mean you have to change for others, to fit in with them all the time. T he trick is understanding what is important to you and being able to let go of what isn’t.  Being creative enough to find ways to meet everyone’s needs when appropriate.  Sometimes this means looking at our priorities and remembering to let go of ‘others’ so they can grow.

It is unfortunate that being polite, intended as respectfully considerate of others, has become a form of social correctness.   This social correctness is what concerns me.   That is when good manners are token empty gestures or requires us to go along with the social norms and commonplace behaviors that reinforce disconnection and lack of authenticity.

The genuine use of requests, appreciation and appropriate behavior adjustment, along with candid caring communication lead to more fulfilment and life satisfaction.  Yet candid communication maybe portrayed as disrespectful, in reality, I think this claim is a means to prevent growth and maintain questionable social practices.

Learn to speak candidly with respectful kindness, and how to develop relationships where you know the other has your best interests at heart and will support you being your self!  And that you will do the same for them.   Let others know what you appreciate and that you are aware they have a right to say No. 

The Importance of Self-Care

Monday 24th of July is International Self-Care Day.   In honor of the day lets acknowledge the importance of Self-Care and consider how we can enhance our Self-Care skills.  For Self-Care is our first and primary role and responsibility.   It is about honoring our health and wellbeing, as well those around us.

Effective Self-Care is the practice of constructively paying attention to, and fulfilling one’s own needs, so as to nourish and maintain one’s health and wellbeing.

Constructively refers to being effective and respectful, respectful of our self as well as of others.  To be effective and respectful we must be aware of our own needs, be able to distinguish our self from others and recognise that we have separate and often different needs and desires.   We need to believe in our ability to fulfil those needs, while considering others’.  Finally we need the skills to consider varies options, before selecting and actioning the most appropriate way to have the need(s) meet.

As a babe we did not hesitate to let others know our needs until others fulfilled them, or we learnt helplessness.   As we grew we developed skills to fulfill our needs and desires or remained in a space of learnt helplessness and decided we wouldn’t have what we wanted.   Some of us learnt effective Self-Care skills.  We were empowered.   The result being we had the skills for a fulfilling and satisfying life; we experience health, wellbeing, quality relationships, personal success and how to deal with the challenges of life. Unfortunately many of us did not.

Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable,  and you are worth the effort.  Deborah Day

If we have unfulfilled needs they tend to fester and break out.  They may break out as irritation, passive aggressive or outright aggressive behaviors.  These behaviors have damaging effects on our health, wellbeing, relationships, and consequently our life.   As an adult it is our responsibility to develop our Self-Care skills so we can be both self-determined and respectful.   To do this we need the skills of self-awareness, empathy, creativity, negotiation, decision-making, action taking, and accountability.   Learning these skills are Self-Care essentials.

Self-Care means being able to give the best of yourself,  rather than what is left of yourself.   Katie Reed

If you already have many of these skills, in honor of Self-Care Day I suggest you put aside time to consider an act of kindness for your self and your loved one’s and action it as soon as possible.   For kindness is another foundation of Self-Care.

If you are struggling with your personal Self-Care, I recommend giving yourself permission to not only determine but also meet your personal need and desires.   First steps include taking the time to consider what actions make you feel better and which do not.  AND committing to doing more of what helps you feel better.  Start with the simple things.   Perhaps taking time to read a good book, talk with a friend, sitting down to savor a nourishing bowl of fruit salad, or vegetable soup.   Importantly, know you deserve to enjoy your life and that the little things that nourish you are the backbone to doing so.

What action are you taking today to enhance your Self-Care?

How are you celebrating International Self-Care Day?

Other potential resources:

For specific ideas of Self-Care check out: 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul.

Self-Awareness exercises.

The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren

Crucial Accountability by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan