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Bullying

Hello guys,

I think this topic deserves a thread as it is quite prevalent in the workplace and in life.

Here is a Youtube channel about nurse bullying. If you've been reading my posts, you know it's a big problem in hospitals and it's very common. Most patients won't be able to see it, though.

@Lucio, I posted the link especially for you as she has great material on this topic, which applies to other fields as well. Like this short video:

Thank you for sharing, John!

She makes great points, and yes, bullying is a big topic in power dynamics.

We addressed it indirectly a few times, but never under a specific post or lesson under the name "bullying".
Definitely a topic to tackle eventually in a lesson / post. I think it will get the most attention from school students, and to do a good job for them I should do some proper research first. The typical proposed solutions of "fight back" or "kill them with love" are both generalizations that do not always make for the best strategies -and especially the second one which is almost laughable-.

But now we have a forum "container" for anything bullying.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Community, new content and Charisma University moved here.

The typical proposed solutions of "fight back" or "kill them with love" are both generalizations that do not always make for the best strategies -and especially the second one which is almost laughable-.

I agree with your statement about using "kill them with love" as a first step, but I think love is an important part of the solution. I think to build a collaborative relationship with the bully is important, it is important to build some kind of mutual respect and trust. However, if done as a first step it will be perceived as weakness, as a way to coax the bully. So,

I think one very important point that is often forgotten and I would say is the first steps are:

  1. Recognition: recognizing a bully allows us to prevent future attacks. However, to do this one has to be in a detached mode to be able to spot this behavior without being too much hurt when the attack will come. It will come as agression is their default behavior.
  2. Resistance/resilience: the attack won't be a physical attack in 90% of cases as you talked about in PU, especially at work or in social situations. The attack will be psychological/emotional. They will try to manipulate you through with their anger, your guilt, shame or a mix of those. So, if one can continue the behaviors one was going to do anyway, the bully is dumbfounded and the manipulation is countered. This is the step where you show you're not an easy target. That you're a hard target instead of a soft target. This step is important to show the bully that you're not affected by their behavior. However, this opens the door to escalation from their part if you don't do step 3.
  3. Establishing boundaries: very softly and neutrally, you explain or ask what happened and explain your point of view. It's better if you do it publicly as it will calm the bully down if they see that they are exposed publicly. The secret here is not to try to make the bully feel bad but to explain in a neutral way why it's not ok. However, this opens the door to revenge if you don't establish step 4. I found that humor to establish boundaries is effective but can increase the chances of retaliation.
  4. Set a collaborative frame: explain how it is important that we can work together well for the benefit of all. Look at the positive side of the bully, there is always at least one quality they have that you can admire and learn from: this is where I think love is useful. Nobody is 100% evil

So, on top of my mind, this is an empirical framework that I found through my experiences. Bully psychology is based on the following:

  1. The need to feel powerful
  2. The need to dominate

It's important to understand that it is a psychological need stemming from a lot of different stuff (trauma, low self-esteem, etc.). To make a win-win relationship with a bully it is important to show/teach them that they can feel powerful without hurting people. By listening to them for instance. The trick is to remember that we're not there to fix them but to manage our relationship with them. I'm not saying this works 100% of the time but once they understand that :

  1. You're not a threat
  2. You won't be pushed around easily

It will be much easier to work/collaborate with them. Something else that I think is very important is that if one is assertive, it is important not to talk about one's feeling I believe. I think it's very important not to be vulnerable with bullies. Because it will be interpreted as a weakness and bully don't respect weak people and it might be used against you. One can say: "as colleagues it important that we talk to one another respectfully I believe" instead of "I was hurt when you spoke to me like that". That vulnerability can be used with reasonable people who have no deep psychological issues around control and self-worth as "normal people" will respect you and it will build a deeper bond.

It is also very important to disclose as little information as possible on oneself. Every bit of information you give the bully is ammunition that will be used against you when and if it fits him/her. When asked a question about yourself, always ask "why are you asking?" to put the bully on the defensive and prevent future questions. Whatever they answer (to get to know you, etc.) answer: "what about you?". This is how we build relationship with a bully: on a tit-for-tat basis. If you're curious about the bully of course you can ask questions, but be careful not to get too close.

Befriending a bully is a losing strategy I believe. The best relationship is a relationship where you keep the bully at arms' length. Where they cannot hurt you. You can make the bully an ally, but it's a fragile ally. They have deep-seated psychological and emotional issues. They are like a time bomb. One day they might think you're the best, the next day they hate you. What I mean by "befriending" is not to create an emotional bond with the bully. This emotional bond is the mean through which the bully can hurt you. That is once again where the detachment comes in. Be friendly but not a friend is what I mean.

What do you guys think?

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Here is a book I found.

Toxic Nursing, Second Edition: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

Coming from this article:

Surviving (even thriving?) in a toxic workplace

Other studies report that between 27% and 85% of nurses say they are victims of workplace bullying (Becher & Visovsky, 2012Christie & Jones, 2013; Wilson et al.). A recent survey found that 66% of nurses either experienced or witnessed bullying, naming staff nurses as bullies 58% of the time, physicians 38%, patient care technicians 34%, and nurse managers 34% of the time (Keller, Budin, & Allie, 2016).

So, what I'm witnessing is commonplace.

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