Sticks and Stones…

Dealing with bullying and harassment can be difficult, it’s often difficult to explain, give examples of and put into words.  The way something is said can make such a difference, that tone then doesn’t come out when written into meeting notes or a statement.  Often, it’s very little incidents, incidents that alone don’t stand out but when they are repeated, part of a bigger pattern and a wider context it’s bullying, harassment or abuse.

This is about how the behavior of one (or more) people impacts someone else.  No one has the right to belittle another.  This behavior should not be acceptable in any circumstances, recent cases highlight that harassment is still being accepted where it shouldn’t be.

If a person feels hurt, humiliated, bullied, no one has the right to say they cannot feel like this, certainly not the person causing these feelings.  “I didn’t mean it like that”, “it was only a joke”, “I said sorry” and “it’s not everyday” – none of these are valid excuses.

Not every day is an interesting one, it doesn’t have to be every day, this often leads to the target adapting their behavior in order to placate the behavior of another.

At school I’m sure we were all taught the rhyme “sticks and stones will break my bones, names will never hurt me”.  Fortunately, we now understand the mental health implications of verbal and emotional bullying and abuse.

Bullying of this form can be very difficult to identify and deal with, the individual reporting the bullying may be finding it very difficult to give exact examples, by the time they come to write a diary they have already started to adapt their behavior to avoid incidents. Those who have witnessed, may have seen only small isolated incidents, they are likely to be interpreting these incidents without the context.  The person accused may deny, say it wasn’t as bad as suggested, have reasons or excuses. This often result in an interpretation that someone is being “over sensitive”.

A bully won’t accept responsibility for their actions, they won’t see the impact of their actions, they are likely to only see how the situation is impacting them.

Bullying is often subtle, it’s by its nature hidden and likely to be one word against another.  It’s important to remember this, focus on how behaviour makes another feel when dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace.

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