This week is Anti Bullying Week; where we have been encouraged to ‘make a noise about bullying’ and no longer let bullying behaviour be ignored.
Only last week, after having stood up to bullies in the business world, it was resolved with legal intervention. My suppliers and I were subjected to extreme bullying behaviour throughout the day of an event we were involved in. My suppliers were fantastic and did what they could to ignore the abuse, responding with charm and a smile. When I asked the reasonable business question “When is the invoice is being paid?” I was accused of being ‘unreasonable’, ‘horrible’ and ‘disrespectful’.
Of course the original bully didn’t like being treated by an assertive business owner; cried “That’s not fair” to the owner of her business who threw his weight around. I realised very quickly that a large invoice wasn’t going to be paid, because all sorts of fabricated excuses were being used to justify non-payment despite delivering an outstanding service.
I used a debt collector and subsequently a solicitor who was 2 hours from serving a winding up notice to the high court, to get the debt paid. Although they are used to abuse in their line of work, they admitted they had both lost their cool with them, due to the extent and strength of the abuse. Had I continued without their assistance, I would still have a debt outstanding. The company used extreme abuse and bullying tactics to avoid settling an outstanding debt, and I understand this is an ongoing strategy of theirs to manage their cashflow.
The reason why I share this story is that I fully understand the impact of bullying behaviour directed at you. I was fortunate in that the situation warranted me to instruct professionals to deal with the problem. But what happens if you work in an environment like this? That a colleague or boss is always undermining your contribution? What happens if you are called names at school and the abuse continues on social media after school so you can’t escape? If strangers shout abuse at you in the street?
One of the myths of bullying is that it is only teasing; that “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Were you told that? I certainly was, and the statement isn’t true. Another is that the victim is partly responsible: in other words the bully isn’t responsible. Yet another is that the bully is being bullied themselves so we should feel sorry for them.
I am not in a position to discuss specific bullying, but I do know that if you are feeling undermined, humiliated, picked on, abused etc you must go and talk to someone that you trust. They might be in a better position to listen and advise you. If necessary get out of the situation and re-build your self confidence. If ever abuse is thrown at you; hold your head up; look them in the eye. You have no right to feel humiliated.
And if you are a bully: go and look at yourself in the mirror now. This is what a bully looks like. Are you proud of yourself? Why are you doing it? Are you lacking confidence yourself? Instead of undermining someone else, why not work on yourself.
If you need to speak to someone about bullying during Anti Bullying week, go to their website.