I’d be surprised if anyone hasn’t encountered a Bully. Whether directly, or witnessed someone else being victimised.
I was accused of being a bully at work. To say it made me furious is an understatement; the accusation was made by someone who had left my store on rather bad terms and was speaking on behalf of someone else. I knew it was just a jibe, but it hurt.
I think I can speak for most people who have been bullied; you would never, ever, ever want anyone else to suffer it. Being bullied at school is shit and if it gets serious, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ruined your life.
Being bullied at work is different, but the feelings are the same. It’s strange because everyone is aware of what’s happening, everyone will sympathise, but there’s nothing that anyone, least of all you, can do.
Yes, yes, I know HR are there to ‘support’ you, but they’re not really, are they? Bluntly, they’re there to ensure company profits and protect senior management (I appreciate this is overly simplistic, but it is my genuine opinion after numerous years as a people manager).
To be made to feel worthless, to be criticised constantly, whether personally or professionally is demeaning and so, so painful.
To sit in the car, squaring up to what you know is coming, shaking before you even walk in the door. To have sympathetic looks from colleagues and kind words. To be asked questions and find your voice shake as you answer, knowing whatever you say won’t be right. Sweating anxiously throughout the day waiting for the blow to fall.
To keep on trying, and keep holding your head up when someone crushes you just by sneering in your direction. To brace yourself, knowing what’s coming. Every. Single. Day.
I don’t know how I did it for eight long months. It felt like years at the time. And I’m sure there are many, many people who suffer for much, much longer. I used to look back and wonder why the hell I didn’t get out sooner. And then the same thing happened more recently.
And….You need to pay your mortgage. You enjoy your job (maybe). And you are not going to let them push you out. Stubborn, stoic, or stupid? Or maybe just refusal to ‘let’ the bully win.
In both instances it was women who did this, but I’m sure men do it as well.
I saw my bully in a restaurant years after I left the company we worked for. And it made me clammy and nervous, I was overwhelmed by a shroud of anxiety that I couldn’t shake off the whole time she was there.
I sat there trying to tell myself I was far more successful and was earning more money than she had at my age. But it didn’t matter, it was irrelevant because I still felt scared of her.
Six years later and she still terrified me.
I think that it must be fear, jealousy, or just pure sadism that makes these people tick. And they know what they’re doing. They’re adults, for goodness sake.
Bullies will always exist, at school, at work, at leisure, in marriages and friendships. Some people are just that way inclined. And there will always be their victims. Whether that’s a personality trait as well, I’m not so sure.
I’d like to say I won’t let (like it’s manageable) it happen again, but I know it’s not a choice.
But what I do know is that I will never, ever, ever be a bully.