Bullies can destroy confidence, wellbeing and lives. They intimidate and manipulate to bring others down. Understanding bullying behaviour can identify signs to watch out for and protect you somewhat from the impact.
A bully repeatedly and intentionally uses word or actions against someone to cause distress, upset and risk to wellbeing. Their actions may be subtle but the effects are not. Bullies are usually people with more power, control or influence over someone else and they bully to make others feel less powerful or helpless. Unfortunately workplace bullying is not uncommon. Many clients I meet, at all levels in their professional field have been at the mercy of bullying behaviour and I wanted to share some awareness and considerations for support if you are also, or have been one of them.
When we are a victim of bullying, we can usually only think about ourselves and why we are targeted. It can be helpful to think instead of the bullying behaviour and focus on understanding that in most cases, it’s really all about the bully and not about us, although of course we have the consequences and emotional fall out to deal with.
There are a number of reasons why people bully.
The bully has low self-esteem. Yes! This is frequently a key reason and often not one we ever consider. Some bullies bully to feel better about themselves. Please think about this.Their insecurities lie at the heart of their actions and they intimidate or embarrass or humiliate to feel better about themselves. This is about them and not you. The impact is however felt by you and we are not underestimating this but to realise that the bully may be insecure might give you some power too.
The bully is jealous. This is frequently the case. They are jealous of you and want to undermine you. They lack what you offer- looks, personality, popularity, skills or experience and they want and envy what you have. They make you feel smaller in their attempt to feel bigger. This again is about them, not you.
The bully is lonely. Bullies can crave attention, importance and focus. Their actions create power and control and a sense of raised importance for themselves. Their thinking of course is distorted!
The bully has personal problems. This leads to feeling insecure, unworthy or unable to cope. This frustration needs somewhere to be directed. You become the target. Again, this is about them and not you. You are just the unwilling party to the action.
The bully only knows that behaviour. Their lives has included it perhaps at home or at school. They behave in a way that is familiar to them.
The bully needs to have power. They want to be in charge, in control and the leader. They don’t know how to gain this appropriately and use behaviour to undermine others. They think they gain a respect but of course they don’t at all.
The bully is part of a pack. Alone they are ineffectual. They need others to roll with them. Like wolves stalking deer.
The bully is arrogant. Their big ego and self confidence means they feel superior to others. We often think that this is only reason for a bully, a self confident, self assured person but as outlined above, it isn’t.
The bully targets those who are different. This fact is sadly true. They have no morals or values about equality, inclusion and diversity. The issue is theirs, not yours. Celebrate your uniqueness and sense of self. Do not allow others to make you feel inferior.
If you are a victim of bullying, remember, it is not your fault. How you feel emotionally and physically often however needs to improve. It’s so important to make getting better your priority.
For workplace bullying, report the behaviour.
You may need to take time away from the workplace to recover.
You could also engage in activities you’ve forgotten that you enjoy.
Be with people who love and care for you.
Celebrate your strengths.
Remember what makes you who you are
Do something new or interesting as a positive distraction.
Take your mind elsewhere and focus on yourself.
Talk to your GP or seek professional support.
And if returning to work means facing the bully and their inappropriate behaviour, and that feels unsupportive or just too much, explore other work or career options.