Bullying. This is a term that we normally associate with children who display physical or emotional aggressive behavior. We usually associate this with kids in school or college or during play, when adult supervision is minimal. In other words, we assume that adults will behave more maturely and advise the children against bullying.
But what if I told you that adults are the worst bullies?
Surprised? Yes…I am sure you have encountered bullies amongst your friends or colleagues. The behavior may be subtle or cloaked under the pretext of a joke. But don’t be fooled – for underneath lies a malicious intent to belittle the person being targeted. And because the bully, as an adult, chooses to do it knowing the impact it can have on the other person, he/she is far worse than a child who may not be fully aware of the repercussions.
Who Are The Bullies?
That boss who always finds fault with whatever you do and doesn’t allow you to shine is a bully. That colleague who is jealous of your work and tries to always divert attention to your drawbacks or spreads malicious gossip is a bully too. That ‘friend’ who constantly shows off his superiority by throwing his ‘branded’ possessions (house, car, clothes, etc) in your face, while making fun of your possessions is a bully. Is someone stalking you on social media and constantly posting negative things? That is a bully too.
The biggest bullies are those who act pally and take digs at you in the guise of ‘being cool’ or crack ‘jokes’ at your expense. These are the worst of the lot as the bullying is very subtlety done to gain popularity or to isolate you within a group. Because these are not overtly done and usually done by people in your inner circle who you would call ‘friends’, you are unable to identify the true malicious intent immediately.
Are you able to relate these behaviors to people in your circle? Surprised? Don’t be…they are bullies. Beware of them.
Why Do People Bully?
Psychologists say the bullies are often insecure. They may be secretly jealous of your popularity or achievement and to cover that insecurity, they choose to belittle you either directly or subtlety. It is about power and control. They may also choose to do it to cover up their own shortcomings by foisting it on you.
How To Handle A Bully?
If you are the victim of bullying, understand that it is all about power for them. So stand up for yourself and confront them. While this may work in a friend or family circle, it can be a bit challenging in an official scenario, especially if it is a superior. Make sure to tell them that while you are open to feedback, you are not ok to be unnecessarily and constantly targeted. When required, report to HR or a higher authority. Document instances of bullying to support your claim.
In some cases, bullying can take a dangerous turn and become physically violent too. If this happens, seek legal help immediately.
In a friend or family circle, seek out the person and have a chat one-on-one. If this doesn’t help, confront the bully in front of others the next time it occurs. Tell them that you are not OK with this kind of behavior. The bully usually does not like confrontation and will back down or think twice before doing it the next time. Also, this public calling out will deter other bystanders who passively participate in the bullying.
Impact Of Bullying On Health
Immaterial of how prepared you are and how much knowledge on bullying you have, there is always a negative impact when you come across bullying. While the victims surely have some adverse impact, even people who witness it may be affected with guilt or low morale.
The victims may develop low self-esteem or even depression in severe cases. They may show symptoms of insomnia or have anxiety attacks or withdraw into a shell and not meet others to avoid being bullied. In severe cases, they can develop trust issues too.
Of course, the bullies themselves need professional help and support to identify and address the issue. In some cases, the behavior can escalate if left untreated and can lead to other issues of physical or verbal abuse.
The next time you are bullied or witness someone being bullied, stand up and say NO to the wrong behavior. Do reach out to support groups and helplines if you know of a victim or bully who needs help.