Bullies Are All Around Us - Don't Be "That Guy" (Or Girl)
We Can All Be Affected
Just Don't - Easier Said Than Done, Sometimes
A very smart lady I know said, via Facebook, that she'd noticed her News Feed was featuring an increasing number of posts about bullying. She offered some sage, if blunt, advice: "Don't be an a-hole."
While she noted that the posts she'd seen were regarding the upcoming school year and bullying behaviors, she also said that people shouldn't behave improperly regardless of what age they are, and that got me thinking.
How many bullies did we know as kids?
How many do we know now as adults?
So, we could very easily look to the Twitter feed of United States President Donald J. Trump, for starters, as a classic case of what a bully looks like, but in some cases, that would just be too easy. We'd just be looking at whomever might be exemplifying the lowest common denominator in behavioral standards, and bullies, while annoying and childish and in some cases frightening, sometimes are a little more subtle than this current world leader.
How many times, for instance, have you had to deal with someone in your life ranting at you over something that you perceive as relatively small? Barking at you for what you perceive to be a reason that could be discussed rationally? Blowing up over details that you either did not consider or details that just basically flew under your personal radar, and you end up feeling a little (or a lot) attacked?
How many times have you been that person, intentionally or unintentionally?
I've heard the expression "I didn't mean it that way" in various forms after someone's blown up, but the thing I try to remind myself is that it doesn't matter a bit how something was intended; bullying is in the eye of the receiver of the comment or action, and if they are feeling bullied or harassed, then we can't diminish that. I've heard those who have made comments that could be construed as bullying basically saying that the person on the receiving end of those comments needs to stop being sensitive, or "man up" - again, it's variations on a theme.
To an extent, I get it. It's really easy, when you're heated, to say something really dumb and incredibly hurtful and have that cut someone deep. For some, a feeling of having been harassed or bullied might stem from that. Another wise friend of mine once told me that she had suggested in the past to students who struggled with anger issues that before they pop off and say something - or do something - aggressive, they needed to go to the bathroom. She said that in the time it took for that person to use the facilities and (hopefully) wash their hands, they would come back to the given situation in a much calmer state. This would, in turn, defuse the situation - or, at the very least, eliminate the hostility to enough of an extent that the risk of something bad happening would be diminished.
Wouldn't that make things a lot easier if we could just escape the hostile environment created by bullies by just going to the washroom to take care of business? It would be great if the bully would even take the time to recognize the impact their behavior has on other individuals during that brief few minutes, but baby steps, right?
Maybe in these destructive situations, we can send the bully to the washroom first, so we don't have to worry about any potential confrontation between him or her and the perceived victim.
Maybe, if you feel as though you're the one who might be running the risk of being a bully, you might need to hide out there for several hours; after all, it does take time to simmer down.
Most of all, you need to remember that the snarling, the slamming, and the generalized growling isn't a good way to continue your day; while it might feel awesome in the short term, it has an impact on everyone in your immediate circle and beyond. That's perhaps your biggest lesson, and one we need to send to our children as well.