Dealing With Bad Behavior: Bullies At Home, At Work
Thank you to my friend Kate Jackson who brought to my attention an article in the Health section of the New York Times titled “Have You Been Bullied At Work” by Tara Parker Pope. This is an excellent article, and Ms. Pope does a great public service by bringing this issue into the light. Bullying goes on only when it is tolerated. Yet when individuals and groups take a stand in the presence of it and then stand their ground, not against the bully but for a desired outcome, the behavior of most bullies will change in response. Individuals that take a stand can bring about positive change in these situations. That’s because bullies react to attacks, respond to signals of confidence and strength, and are encouraged by signals of weakness.
I know what it is to take pride in my community, my state and my country. It comes from within, it is completely voluntary in its expression, and it is evoked in both achievement and in crisis. Following the terror attacks of 9-11, I witnessed people changing their behavior from taking their country for granted to caring passionately about who we are and what we are and what we stand for in the world.
Flags came out, went up, and appeared across the land. But during the early stages of the War in Iraq, a sort of sweeping pseudo-patriotism seemed to sweep across our country. Pseudo, because flying a flag or wearing one became synonymous with being patriotic (they are not the same thing,) and not flying one or wearing one became equivalent to being unpatriotic. So many more people began flying flags, sticking them on their tailgates, and pasting them on their storm doors.
Just over two years ago, (three years into the war) a retired gentleman I know and love, who we’ll call Adam, was essentially warned by his neighbor that he ‘should’ be flying his flag all year long. “Look around, Adam. That’s what we all do in this neighborhood. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea.” Adam disagreed. But he didn’t become belligerent or disagreeable.
Instead, he calmly told his neighbor. “No, I don’t think so. I’m a tax payer and a veteran. When called to fight, I fought for this country. I don’t need to fly a flag in order to be a good American.”
More to the point, he politely told his neighbor that there was no way he’d be bullied into flying a flag when he didn’t feel like it, and he didn’t feel like it…he flew his flag on two days a year ( Memorial Day, and the 4th of July) and that was plenty. Then he told his neighbor, “And you know, it’s really not your concern to come over here and tell me something like this, and it is definitely none of your business what I do, or how I do it. So here’s what I want you to do instead. I want you to mind your own business, and I’ll mind mine. Thanks.” The neighbor backed off and never said another word.
Adam stood his ground for his beliefs and created positive change in his neighborhood.
I’ll write more in future posts about dealing with bad bullying behavior. Meanwhile, I’d like to hear your examples of creating positive change when dealing with the bad behavior of bullies.
You can comment below. Tara Pope’s complete article is here.
Dr. Rick Kirschner