By Mack Samples|
There have been several articles appearing in the national media in recent weeks concerning bullies. Bullies are a fact of life. As we have all read, bully behavior begins early in life and creates problems in the public schools. But, sadly, as many writers have pointed out, it doesn’t stop there. Successful bullies in elementary school usually carry over into later life. Or, oftentimes, they don’t really become bullies until they are adults.
Sometimes bullies gain dominance by physical means, other times they do it by demonstrating a stronger will. Either way, someone suffers for it. During younger years bullies generally gain dominance by beating up someone smaller. The victim then becomes an example for others to see. Everyone who witnesses the beating comes to the conclusion that “I had better do what he says or become his friend, else I might get my head bashed in.” But it doesn’t stop with one beating. The bully will repeat the behavior again and again to maintain his dominance, always being careful to pick on someone not his size.
During adulthood the establishment of “bullyhood” is usually not accomplished via physical means. Most of the time it is done with a strong will accompanied by threats. The bully soon learns that many people will avoid confrontation at almost any cost so he seeks out the weak ones and gains dominance over them. Eventually, the bully weasels his way into a position of power where he can make his threats a reality. Once he arrives at that point, he makes a few examples by firing people or by making their lives so miserable that they leave on their own. Like the younger bullies, the adult/workplace bullies are careful to abuse people whom they know will tuck their tails and run. After that, everyone cowers in fear of them.
I have heard the subject discussed in both public meetings and in private conversations.
I have heard all kinds of things that can be done to contain the bully. But the truth is, there is only one way. Somebody, one of his equals, or better yet, someone not his equal, must take a stand. I’ve seen it happen among younger folks and among adults.
I once witnessed a teenaged bully get his comeuppance from a kid who was probably four inches shorter and forty pounds lighter. The incident occurred out along a river bank at a swimming hole. The bully came up behind him and started hitting him in the back and side of the head, muttering something about he heard the kid had been saying bad things about him. But the little guy found a good sized limb on the ground and swung with all his might. The bully went to his knees. But the kid did not stop. He kept swinging, leaving the bully crumpled on the ground. After that incident, the bully was never the same.
I have also witnessed bully taming in the adult workplace. Once someone has the grit to take a stand against him, often suffering dire consequences for his action, others will follow. The bully soon learns that, try as he might, he will never be the dominant bully that he once was. He will keep on trying….but it’s over.
(I have used the masculine gender in this article, but females can also become bullies).