The Effects of Bullying

Bullying is a form of physical, psychological or verbal abuse. It involves one person or a group of persons picking on another individual or group of individuals. The bully is perceived as having more power over the person or group being bullied. 

Physical bullying can include hitting, shoving, tripping, even sexual assault. Psychological bullying may include controlling the other through intimidation, ganging up, exclusion, gossiping or undermining a person's position or competencies. 

Verbal bullying can include taunting, mocking, name calling, humiliating, inappropriate jokes, making negative comments, threatening or sending malicious e-mails or posting insults on social media. The latter is referred to as cyber bulling which can be much more intense and damaging psychologically, as it is very difficult to manage.

People who bully others may be covering up feelings of inadequacy or it may be a learned behaviour from a family where violent behaviour was acceptable. 

Some adults may think bullying amongst children is just part of growing up and that it's a way for kids to learn to stand up for themselves. This is faulty thinking. Children who learn that they can get away with aggressive behaviour carry that belief into adulthood with a higher chance of being aggressive in relationships. Hence a bully may be your sibling, your partner, your supervisor or colleague.

Being bullied can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach pain are common. And mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or panic attacks can occur from being bullied.  

In my practice as a therapist and coach, I am shocked by the number of people whose ability to function at work has been significantly impaired as a result of bullying. Individuals with notable achievement records quite quickly can experience an erosion of confidence and diminished work performance as a result of bullying.  

What's particularly perplexing is the inaction of senior leadership within organizations to address what appears to be a growing problem. Since research on leadership characteristics indicates that a bullying style is typically associated with an executive's failure, we are left with a conundrum. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

What is your experience of bullying?
What are you teaching or have already taught, your children about bullies and bullying?
Do you know where to get help if you are being bullied in your workplace or home?

Send me your comments. It's always great to hear from you. 

And remember to take good care of yourself,

                 Kathleen 

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