If you witness bullying…

stop bullying

… don’t do nothing. Because doing nothing is still something. And we might not understand the gravity of standing by. Bullying can range from name calling and teasing to violence, intimidation and harassment, and can manifest at school, at work, or online. So if we do witness bullying, here are a few ways of doing something about it:

  1. Don’t make assumptions about the bully’s motives or the victim’s feelings. It might seem as if the bully’s words are meant as a harmless joke and it might seem as if the victim brushes them off, but that may not be the case. And even if it is, that’s not an excuse to ignore it.
  2. Don’t encourage the bully. It might be tempting to laugh at a bully’s remarks or gossip about someone behind they’re back, in an attempt to fit in or avoid being bullied ourselves, but if we keep encouraging it, we keep normalising it. And bullying has too serious consequences to ignore.
  3. Call it out. If you see the bully in action, in person or online, and you feel safe enough to do so, confront them. Sometimes a bully needs their sense of power to be stripped away. They can thrive on the idea that nobody can stop them. Tell them that they’re wrong. But be careful not to confuse calling out the bully with becoming a bully yourself.
  4. If standing up to the bully is too frightening, focus on the victim instead. Ask them how they are. Listen to them. Offer them the support they ask for. Befriend them. Invite them to sit with you at lunch times. Whatever you can do to make them feel less alone. There’s strength in numbers and it gives the bullied something to look forward to in a usually hostile environment.
  5. Tell someone. Sometimes we might lack authority over the bully, for example if we’re classmates or colleagues. We need find help from someone else, like a teacher or someone in human resources – whoever you feel comfortable talking to and who you can trust. Just make sure you’re sensitive and careful about anything you share about the victim.

Got any other advice? Leave it in the comments!

For more advice on dealing with bullying, visit this post: http://wp.me/p2Q5YU-3C

(Image: Tumblr)

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Before you criticise someone…

Everyone has been criticised and everyone has criticised someone else, whether in front of them or behind their back. Sometimes it is necessary and other times it is disguised in the form of a joke. And of course there’s those critical remarks that fall in between. Sometimes people deserve to be criticised if they’ve somehow wronged you in the past. But there is a difference between constructive criticism and being mean; sometimes there might be disagreement over which of these is true in a particular circumstance, the criticiser thinking one and the criticised thinking another. It all comes down to communication and the thought processes that occur in the instance of criticising someone, whether it is in the spur of the moment or has been in the works for a while. Constructive criticism or criticism with bad intentions has consequences, and not all of them good. Here are some questions worth asking before criticising someone in any form:

What is my motive?

Am I criticising this person for their benefit: to improve themselves, their interaction with other people, or their perceptions of the world? Am I telling this joke because deep down I actually mean what I’m saying and want to hurt this person? Am I telling this joke to make myself look better even though it is at the expense of someone else?

Is what I am saying worth it?

After contemplating the first question, ask yourself: is it really necessary? Is it constructive? Will anything good come of saying this? Is there a possibility that this could backfire? For example, everyone likes someone who is good-humoured and someone who can laugh at themselves, but nobody likes a bully.

How will the other person take this?

What kind of person is this? Are they strong, or sensitive, or good-humoured?  Remember that your opinion on this person may only be based on assumptions; it is not always easy to know how a person will react.

How am I going to say this?

Do I need to be careful and particular? Should this be done alone, spontaneous or planned? Think about your answer to the previous question and re-evaluate accordingly.

If the person takes it the wrong way, am I and how will I fix it?

Sometimes people take jokes the wrong way. It is hard to tell how someone might react; on the one hand, you need to take responsibility for your actions and your words, but also think about the aforementioned questions to make sure that anything you do is with the best intentions and not something that can use against you. If you don’t care how the other person feels afterwards or whether they take the criticism on board, then maybe you should not criticise them at all.