People who are bullied are naturally wondering « why » and « am I an easy target? ». If you think that it’s because you are a wimp or somehow “worse” than others – you are wrong. While bullies are opportunists ready to explore every feature they view as a weak point, they will target anybody and they are often driven by envy.
– Because they can.
There’s still not enough said and done about bullying. Victims of harassment are being persecuted because of their gender, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and for this reason harassment is viewed as equality and human right issue, rather than a “relationship problem”. Bullying is often perceived as a relationship issue and victims of bullying are often not recognized soon enough or helped in an efficient way. If humiliation, intimidation and sabotaging performance of others go undetected and unpunished, a bully will feel encouraged to continue and his/her behaviour can even escalate.
– Because of fear of exposure.
Despite appearances and their carefully constructed image, some bullies are insecure and have low self-esteem. Research shows that some bullies have an average or high self esteem (self- inflated…), but all of them have some common characteristics. As long as a bully manages to manipulate and to intimidate others his/her self-esteem remains high. At work a bully is often not the brightest crayon in the box, neither the most creative, nor the wittiest one. Since bullies bulldoze their way to success (or rather to what they view as a success) they can land a managerial position, even if they are inadequate or totally inept. Needless to say, their behaviour will escalate if they are given a “higher” position. Unable to assume the responsibility and fulfil obligation a bully becomes paranoid, can’t overcome fear of rejection, exposure or being replaced by a more competent worker.
– Because they are envious.
Even if being bullied is hardly flattering, it’s a well known fact that you can become a target if bully finds that you are a smarter, more popular or more respected person. If what’s more you dare to be competent and innovative at work bully will be seething with jealousy.
– Because a bully gets agitated by personal values just like a bull gets agitated by a red blanket…
If a bully is in the mood for boasting, he/she will give an “I did it my way” monologue mocking all these “losers and suckers”…What about the “glorious” bully’s way”? Well, let’s start by the fact that a bully often learns to avoid punishment for his/her outrageous behaviour already early in his/her childhood, by using “methodology” which consists on denial, blatant lies or self-victimization. A bully will go through life intimidating, harassing and humiliating his/her victims. For a bully this is “the only way” so they can’t stand altruistic, honest, decent people.Originality, independence, morality and integrity will destabilize bully and he/she will see red.
– Because they use bullying as a “coping technique” to deal with their toxic emotions.
Bullies are angry, resentful, and frustrated so tormenting someone else is their “anger management therapy”. Bullies are unwilling to change their behaviour or to develop real coping skills.
Bullies can be very direct in their actions (physically abusing, threatening, insulting) or more “discreet” (plotting, denigrating, and formulating false accusations).While a raging bully is easily spotted, it can be very difficult to prove guilt of the “undercover” aggressor. Many people will picture a bully as a big guy who is shouting and showing his fists, or a mean boss barking orders at people in the office. It’s harder to imagine that a charming professor, a helpful colleague, a classy elderly lady or a cute little kid can be a bully. The truth is that bullies come in all shapes and sizes, and if they can’t use their muscles they’ll use covert aggression or passive aggression instead. A covert-aggressive bully will carefully hide his /her harmful intent in order to manipulate an unaware target. He/she avoids direct confrontation and uses secretive actions, gossip and plotting to isolate and “destroy” the target. A passive –aggressive bully is often a master manipulator, constantly blaming others and pretending to be a victim. These types of aggressors are notorious procrastinators, sabotaging progress and creating chaos in a team; they are often driven by jealousy and fear of competition. A passive-aggressive bully may act “friendly” but will make sure that you are not informed or misinformed, not invited or excluded. He/she will pretend to be cooperative, helpful or may even ask for your help. If you neglect your own duties to help the poor, “helpless co-worker”, do not expect gratitude. You may discover that the poor one’s task has already been accomplished and that the bully asked for your help only to slow down your own work. You may also overhear that you refused to help, did poor work and that you lack empathy…
Direct or “undercover”, bullies try to control others, because they feel in control only when they intimidate, manipulate and harass. Unable to cope with their own negative feelings and insecurities, they aim to silence people who have something that they would like to have.
It’s not only about what a bully says, it’s also about the manner he/she says it, it’s about patronizing, lack of respect for one’s boundaries and freedom of expression, it’s about cruel mockery…If you dare to have a nice conversation with co-workers/friends a bully will feel obliged to “intervene”. A direct aggressor will chime in, won’t stop interrupting, will try to ridiculize you and to persuade others to have fun at your expense. A raging bully who charges so directly is easily spotted and even if she/he has some equally primitive fans, many people will be fed up with the bully’s obnoxious behaviour. Even if some will not openly comment on the poor entertainment (in fear of being bullied on their turn), you have a better chance of finding a witness or/and an ally than it may be in the case of an indirect aggression.
A “shy” bully will approach the group to listen politely. He/she will show a great interest in the topic that is being discussed. His/her comments and “gentle” mockery will be aimed at belittling you. Attacking directly or using covert aggression, a bully will always pretend to be astonished that his/her jokes seem to be offensive. The bully will try to convince others to think what she/he wants them to think and to portray you as an oversensitive person and a party pooper lacking social skills and sense of humour…
A bully wants to have his/her own way and will resort to threats to get it. A threat is nothing less than a form of brain washing and a bully will not hesitate to use a wide variety of coercive methods to control you and/or to punish you for “non-compliance”. A bully wants to show you that she/he decides what you can and can’t do to make you feel diminished and helpless. No matter if a bully suggests not so enigmatically” You will regret it! “, threatens you with physical harm, blackmails you or is “obliged” to dump unrealistic workload on you, it’s not about you and it’s not your fault. It’s always about the bully’s delusion of power and control.
How far can a bully go? It’s unlikely that a bully will improve his/her behaviour. Since the limits will not be set by the bully, they must be set for the bully.
Bullying happens all over the world and all over the world there are cases where bullying led to suicide, violence resulting in physical disability, chronic depression.
Physical aggression à la bully will always be an unprovoked physical attack aiming at demonstration of bully’s dominance. A direct attack is also the most direct and obvious form of bullying so it can be easily detected and should be dealt with immediately.
Bullies are opportunistic cowards so they will use assault as a form of aggression only when and where they can get away with it. A bully who used to kick, beat and push other kids at school will later alter his methods and use a less blatant form of aggression. An adult bully who can’t just drag you around the office by your hair, can still try to initiate unwanted physical contact by patting your back,” jokingly” (but painfully…) pinching you, leaning on your shoulder or grabbing your arm. Unwanted touching in the workplace shouldn’t be mistaken for a sign of informal friendliness as it is a bully’s way to impose his/her domination and “mark the territory”.
What a bully can’t “achieve”alone, he/she will try to obtain with help of his/her “fan club”. Needless to say, bully’s sidekicks are cowardly, frustrated individuals who feel that joining in the “fun” will help them feel better about themselves, and/or will help to turn attention from their own mediocrity. Bully in chief will encourage persecution and harassment aimed at imposing his/her “supremacy” on the target. To destabilize you, a bully will spread malicious rumours and members of bully’s “club” will be expected to do their best to ruin your reputation and to isolate you. Mobbing is a grave threat to the target’s health and life. No matter if mobbing takes place at school, in a company or in the military, the leaders who choose to close their eyes on the collective campaign to ruin someone’s life, fail to fulfil their duties. Our society, no matter the continent, big city or small reservation is less and less compassionate; children are learning that people are “losers” or “winners”, too many people think that failure to assist to a person in danger is not a big deal…Lack of empathy is the root of all bullying, and harassment must be fought in the strongest terms and involving all systems (educational, legal, healthcare…).Delegating responsibility for “suicide prevention” to a physician who “should prescribe anti-depressants” and sending a “target” back to bully’s play-ground is not enough.