“Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.” -Bodie Thoene
Bullies pretty much suck. They are aggressive, they’re out to hurt in any way they can and in the adult world they think they can stop you in your tracks. Oh please, that’s so high school.
Too often, the adult world is full of bullies who think they can dominate. The “cool kids” hang out, watch out for each other and can often be loud and obnoxious (oh, and please don’t offend the prom queen). There is also the “quiet” group. This is the group that avoids confrontation and steers away from other crowds of kids. There are “independents” that get along with all groups; who can easily shift between the cool crowd and the quieter group. This may sound familiar and as bullying doesn’t just happen in adolescence, it also doesn’t disappear in adulthood.
In the work place, in cyberspace and at your child’s school there are instances where adults seem to just drift to one another. Adults form cliques too, which is not necessarily the problem. It’s essential to have a support system in your life, but when you infringe on someone else’s opinion by implementing yours, than it becomes an issue. It becomes an issue when someone states an opinion and people respond not in a conversational manner where you agree to disagree but simply to patronize.
In a world that teaches you to pick your battles, how do you choose?
Sometimes, you just know if you don’t say something you’ll regret it. This is how you know. It’s empowering and freeing to speak your mind. After all, this is a luxury many across the world are literally dying to achieve.
What if the words don’t come out right?
It happens to me all the time, but more often than not, I never regret taking a stand as opposed to letting things slide just because I’m afraid of coming off as a weak orator.
Are you afraid of repercussions?
Think about your worst case scenario. Will people think foolishly of you? Will you be ‘black-listed’? Well, they can try. People will form opinions, they will speak what they want but YOU know who you are. Your clients know your professional standards and your friends know you give every situation 120%.
What if you’ve made a mistake?
You’re only human and it will happen, probably a lot. It’s important to note when you’ve made a mistake – deal with it, learn from it, get over it and move on. There are too many things to get done to dwell on a single mistake. Recognize that you give a situation power. When you allow it to take over your system, you’ve giving it way to much power. Let it go and feel how empowering this notion can be in your life.
Photo via The Kozy Shack
What an interesting perspective! I have been discussing the topic if ‘cliques’ in organizations with a couple of clients recently. One even used the high school analogy. The client felt excluded from the group and felt it impacted her ability to provide value and deliver her work.
She enlisted the help of a coworker (on of those ‘independent’ people you mention) to help make a connection. As it turned out, the ‘in’ group was not even aware that their behavior was being experienced as bullying by the ‘quiet’ person.
You would think we would learn as adults, but we don’t all pay enough attention to self awareness.
Yes! Cliques do exist in adulthood. You’re right, not all groups really ‘get’ what’s going on, or may not really be sensitive enough to others. This is why it’s so important for ‘quiet’ and ‘independent’ individuals to take charge. It’s not enough to feel excluded or marginalized, speaking out really helps a person understand where they stand and the proper actions to take. You’re right, sometimes it may be just a matter of misunderstanding…this is where giving people the benefit of the doubt can go a long way.
Very well said. It’s important to speak up when you have the opportunity and to act if you can. Bullying exists, to a great degree, because it’s tolerated. If it is not tolerated, it will become socially taboo and will be much more rare.
Speaking up and taking action when you can is something very noble. It’s not easy to do when your opinion is not the popular one and needs extreme self-confidence. It’s a hard travelled process of self-exploration and growth.
It can require self-confidence. But it also requires conviction. One can supplement the other.
Silence can be a kind of social glue that allows different people to interact without offending each other. I work at a public library, and I see how often people share opinions only with like-minded people, or when opinions are expressed, they are treated as markers that define ME or US versus THEM. So silence on political or social hot topics becomes the default setting for people who like to be seen as “getting along” with other people.
The goal, for me today in my small relatively conservative Virginia town, is to honestly express my opinions, including those that are different from most of my neighbors, in a manner that avoids, to the greatest degree possible, triggering unnecessary defensiveness – sometimes people act as bullies because they retreat into a psychology where they feel attacked. A group gels around group-think because they feel collectively safer there; this is part of human nature that we have to work with, to some degree. In the library, or in a social setting, I try to make my oppositional opinions an invitation for discussion. I try to signal right off that I’m not attacking the other person’s motives or right to hold an opinion completely different from mine (without sounding condescending – I know I don’t always succeed).
We don’t have to agree to agree, and we shouldn’t – we can still learn from honest listening and honest expression. The other trick, of course, is to find audiences of people who care about the issues of the world, rather than choosing not to pay attention. Often people who express an opinion really haven’t thought about that opinion very much and don’t intend to – it’s to their convenience/self-interest to think a certain way so that’s how they’ll think despite evidence to the contrary.
I think the key here is honest listening and honest expression, and not too many make a conscious decision to be critical thinkers open to thoughtful dialogue. Silence in a group mentality is the much easier path followed.