For No Good Reason
As a therapeutic practitioner I often see people who have experienced bullying either during childhood or in adulthood. This may not be the presenting problem but certainly has made an impact on them.
The practice of trolling means that people can threaten, humiliate and degrade their chosen target 24 /7 in the public arena. My teenage daughter recently wrote a blog courageously outing herself as a geek who is committed to study and how unwritten rules can lead to social suicide.
School days are fraught with social as well as academic learning. Being different can confirm eligibility as a target. In primary school, I was thin, short, wore glasses and had a dead dad. Bearing in mind, back then, there were less patchwork families than now. The only other child with an absent dad was a girl with bright ginger hair, whom I immediately aligned myself with and I have to admit felt some superiority in the pecking order as her mum and dad were DIVORCED! Clinging together like survivors on a sinking ship only served to
enhance our suitability for persecution.
I recall working with a drug user who belonged to an extreme fascist movement notorious for carrying out violent and aggressive acts. He was a fragile looking young man who was shy and nervous, stereotypical of a victim rather than a perpetrator.
It is very easy to demonise bullies as ruthless, heartless predators. In my experience individuals attach themselves to the majority in a bid to swerve being bullied and also to belong. The need to fit in and belong far supersedes any consideration of impact or consequences.
Bullying is often thought of as something that is restricted to the schoolyard, the workplace is no different. The bodies are bigger and there are more sophisticated and covert methods of bullying at play. At some point all of us have engaged in behaviour that we are not proud of and have no clue of the impact of our actions on others. We are pack animals and can unwittingly be swept along with others. It is my belief that the majority have a desire to conform rather than commit an intentionally malicious act.
Many years ago when working in the field of domestic abuse it occurred to me that bullying is prevalent in relationships including parenting. If power is being exerted to coerce or achieve a desired outcome in another individual, then surely that is bullying. This revelation had a startling impact on my parenting and positively impacted on how I communicated and interacted with my children. We are all unique, yet constantly strive to fit in and belong. There are those that are happy to ‘go with the flow’ and those that are charismatic stand out leaders whom we aspire to and follow. Power dynamics and hierarchies are a part of life whether we like it or not. Where there is no management structure there can still be those in positions of power with no formal authority. I once worked in a collective organisation and witnessed first hand that George Orwell was right in identifying that, “Some animals are more equal than
During a therapy session someone reflected on their experience of workplace bullying and stated it was, “For no good reason.” There can never be a good enough reason for targeting an individual, irrespective of their behaviour. There is risk in aligning with a dominant or influential character, the target often shifts and you may be next in the firing line.
Bully is an emotive, ugly word and should never be used lightly. The impact of this label can be as damaging as being bullied.