“Something smacked me right in the face, and I stared at Dad in the halfway light. ‘So it’s like you’re being bullied!’
“That’s exactly what it’s like. Only in the grown-up world, Tor, it’s called ‘business.'”
When I worked in an office environment, my intense personality and stern “thinking” expression sometimes got me into trouble. I was respected by people who would ask me to do the tough things. I was respected by some who had to report to me–the ones who trusted that I would support them, that my praise was honest, but that my criticism was honest too.
I was equally despised by others, for much the same reason. My last years there were difficult.
One woman was brave enough to report how one of my employees was treating me. It’s true I didn’t handle everything as well as I could have, and there are always lessons to learn from that. I think this woman though, taught me the most important lesson.
There is a time to speak up.
If we haven’t learned how to do that properly as adults though, how can we teach children? In a world where he-who-tweets-first wins (but the truth is optional), when this kind of bullying spreads with ferocious speed, how can we possibly hope to stop it?
[bctt tweet=”When he-who-tweets-first wins (but truth is optional), how do we stop it? #1000speak #sonotokay”]
I’ve been looking for practical advice on this, because I have a few young women who trust me with their secrets, and often those secrets involve bullying behaviour. My nephew died by suicide in 2010, and I wonder if bullying factored into that decision for him.
The advice I sought was found in a series of stories for girls, by Nancy Rue.
The premise is fascinating–three books on bullying, on girl-bullying in particular. One story, told from three different viewpoints. In So Not Okay, we are introduced to a group of girls who band together to protect another. They are the bully-bystanders. In You Can’t Sit with Us, we learn more about the girl who is a victim of bullying, and what she did to make herself a target. We also watch as she learns how to change that dynamic for herself. And in the last book, Sorry I’m Not Sorry (release date April 28, 2015), we will learn more about the girl who makes herself feel better by making others feel worse.
And the best part? I learned how I had victimized others–when I hadn’t intended to, and if I am honest, also when I had. I learned what behaviours I exhibit that sometimes make me a target, still. I learned what I can do to change them.
It’s never one person’s story. When a person, a culture, a country is being bullied, there are always three sides–those watching from the sidelines, those being bullied, and those doing the bullying. Whether in school or in business, it’s just not okay.
What role is yours…and is there anything that needs to change?
Last month, I participated in a bloggers challenger called #1000Speak. There were so many brilliant posts about compassion, and when the opportunity came to speak up again, this time about bullying, I couldn’t turn it down.