With all the attention on prevention and punishment we’ve lost sight of the empowerment opportunities. Neither the bully nor the bullied operate from a position of power and choice; each feels trapped in a game of survival.
Bully survival: Stay on top of the food chain.
Bullied survival: Escape the bottom of the food chain.
Until survival triggers are removed, bullies and the bullied will continue to do whatever it takes to survive. Even though community awareness is high I don’t believe the issue is getting much better; our bullies and victims are just better at surviving.
Bullies are clever to bully with greater awareness and plausible deniability.
Bullied becomes ever more watchful for threats lurking behind every corner.
There is no “bad guy”
Bullies don’t wear a black hat—she’s not the bad guy. She is simply expressing a very human trait—meanness. We don’t need lessons in meanness any more than we need lessons in kindness. Humans come equipped with a fully range of emotions. What we learn is how to express these natural emotions and to put these emotions into context—personal context as in “what’s in it for me.”
Bully behavior will never be “stopped” because its human nature in action triggered by something. It takes time to decode the trigger and then more time to alter the environment causing the trigger. How much time? I don’t know because we haven’t even gotten started yet.
Exploring this perspective more: Observe and Alter
Observe your own bully behavior
Yes, you too are human and therefore a bully at times. Think back to the last time you beeped your car horn at a parent taking too long saying goodbye at school drop-off or the time you interrupted someone in a loud voice. Subtle forms of bully behavior because you’re exerting your will through intimidation.
- Observe the events leading up to the situation.
- Try to recall how often you have a similar emotional reaction to things.
- Find a common pattern and break it down to find your contribution to the situations.
- Experiment on yourself by making a small change in your behavior for 1 week.
- Did it help remove your bully trigger? If not, experiment again.
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