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Tuesday / May 21.
HomemilastwordThe Last Word: Say ‘No’ to Bullies

The Last Word: Say ‘No’ to Bullies

Our schools are doing a great job with anti-bullying campaigns – our children are taught that verbal, physical and cyber bullying is not OK. We know that the targets of bullies are kids that are different or vulnerable in some way. It could be a new kid, the shy kid, the overweight kid, the short kid, the tall kid, the special needs kid, the studious, clever kid who will later go on to create an amazing future.

Sadly, bullies don’t cease being bullies when they leave school. They can be found at your workplace or you can come into contact with them on a professional basis.

Their tactics change, however. A colleague or rival is unlikely to punch you in the face at a function or at work, as a schoolyard bully would, but they will use their words, position or physical presence to intimidate.

Then there’s the indirect bully, who repeatedly spreads rumours and innuendo at industry functions; the snide bully who erodes the confidence and enthusiasm of others with frequent hurtful remarks; and there’s the manipulative bully who constantly distorts truth and situations in an effort to make them look better.

…bullies act aggressively to deflect attention from their own faults and shortcomings

Just as children sometimes bully others to hide their own insecurities and vulnerabilities, bullies act aggressively to deflect attention from their own faults and shortcomings. Perhaps it is the colleague or competitor who is unable to accept change. Unwilling to consider they themselves may be stuck in their ways, and that the problem may be of their own making, they vent inappropriately and explosively. This is bullying.

Not all unpleasant behaviours can be classified as bullying. Mutual disagreements may be unpleasant but they are not always bullying. One off acts of meanness or spite are not necessarily bullying. But when a professional colleague or workplace contact repeatedly engages in verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful or intimidatory, let’s call it for what it is: bullying.

If the behaviour makes you less confident in your work; makes you scared, stressed or anxious; if it affects your life outside work, let’s call it for what
it is: bullying.

Our children are taught to recognise bullying in its many forms; to deflect it; to report it; to stand together against it. The same needs to happen in our professional lives. The Australian Human Rights Commission has a factsheet outlining the rights and protections available to someone being bullied. It is a good starting point for people being bullied or who witness bullying.1

Because, as the Human Rights Commission points out, standing up to bullying is not just action taken by the victim. Bystanders too, have a moral responsibility to stand against bullies. We all have a responsibility
to step in and say ‘No’.