Sunday, 10 January 2010

Top 10 tips to combat bullies

There has been much in the news about clergy bullying and this got me thinking about my own experiences. Being bullied is a dreadful thing and leads to a feeling of powerlessness and despair, even suicidal feelings. I have been bullied for too many of my 39 years, but I think I feel I have learned a few things along the way, and these are my top 10 tips to combat bullies:

1. Maintain your dignity and self respect. These things cannot be taken from you, you can only give them away.

2. Do not be afraid. Fear is always a dreadful master and bullies can smell fear at 100 paces.

3. Name behaviours. 'That feels controlling'. Often a bully will back off when exposed.

4. Ask for explanation. 'When you said that I have to do this otherwise there will be trouble, what exactly did you mean?' Bullying thrives in half articulated threats, exposure often causes a retraction of the threat.

5. Do not permit yourself to be abused. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation then explain that straight away 'Please do not raise your voice, I don't like it and it is completely unnecessary'.

6. Put a boundary if abusive behaviour persists. 'If you continue to swear at me then I will leave this meeting because I refuse to be treated like that'. Always follow through if the boundary is then crossed.

7. Seek support. When a situation feels awkward then seek support sooner rather than later. Immediate bosses are the obvious place of support, if this is not possible then relationship counsellors can give great tips and help. It is a sign of strength, not weakness to seek support.

8. Defer decisions. Bullies love to tell you that the decision has to be made NOW. It very rarely does.

9. Get mediation. Either talk to the bully one to one about the difficulties in the relationship, or set up a meeting with an agreed mediator.

10. Pray for them. Mostly bullies never change because they have a personality disorder or a deep trauma that they are protecting. But sometimes they do. However, prayer in this case is not to change them, but to lead me to see them as broken and to come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness.

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