Bullying and Harassment –
taking a global view, not only work related

A somewhat heavy but pivotal subject to consider, bullying and harassment are thefoundation to much of what hurts people.

Cause and effect – too often victims put up with, even contribute to their situation

ì  Very often relief is so close to those who have energy and self-belief and a strategy. Sadly too many people say, 'just bear it, thats how it is'.

Duty of care requires we remedy these situations, to say nothing of the moraldilemma if we do not!

       Bullying can be best described as repeated,unreasonable behaviour directed toward an individual or group, which wouldreasonably be expected to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten.

       Bullying its not limited to loud and aggressive,suggestive, abusive or demeaning words. It can encompass behaviour that may besubtle but still offend, intimidate, degrade, humiliate, isolate or alienate.This can be face-to-face, occur in front of others or through electroniccommunications.

       This doesn’t mean the person necessarily sets out to do this knowingly just that this can be the outcome! It is not about good and badpeople, just behaviours that are described here. It is often about habitualbehaviors started very young and never corrected. The absence of beingcorrected is in itself we suggest, an act of bullying.

       Harassment relates to the prohibition inanti-discrimination laws against sexual harassment and sex-based discriminationin the workplace.

colourthinking takes the position that too much emphasis is put on the bully (person) – too often not enough on the bullying behaviour. That is, too much judgmental thinking is applied to the person seen as the bully. Other emphasis should be applied to the person who allows the bully to continue with their behaviours,we would say this absence of corrective action is in itself an act of bullying.This may be the employer, the parent or even a friend. Further we say that the person who is being bullied and allows that to continue is also acting in bully type fashion, allowing through inaction to encourage that negative behaviours.

We accept that this thinking maybe contentious but it is patently obvious that so much of the thinking about curbing this behaviour and the impact it has across society is not working, it is time to rethink the past conclusions!

Bullying, stems from various thinking patterns–
                                          colourthinking can help repair past conclusions with new thinking

We hypothesise that

·      We bully ourselves when we allow unsatisfactory events to occur / reoccur

·      We bully ourselves when we negative self-talk

·      We bully ourselves when we become victims

·      We bully others when we undertake described ‘putdown’ behaviours


·      We bully others when we use judgment to come to negative conclusions

·      We bully others when we allow them to act in bullying ways without corrective actions being applied to achieve new outcomes

·      We bully others when we allow new people to come into contact with bullying behaviours without proper strategies to address

·      We bully everyone when we allow negative behaviours in our midst to continue

We need to separate the individual from the behaviours,replace emotional and judgmental with situational thinking leading to changed circumstances.

Let’s take a look from a cause and effect perspective.If someone is subject to bullying behaviours their sense of self worth will be impacted.In these circumstances, their behaviour is likely to find expression in similar behaviours towards someone who is available. That may be a sibling, it could even be a parent, it may come about because of some sense of authority (a boss), or the absence of effective policies and procedures – at home and at work. An individual can bring negative behaviours upon themselves through theirlack of esteem and their low confidence – that is not excuse behaviours butthere is always more than one party.

We read and hear more and more about bullying behaviour from children to parents, particularly older parents. This kind ofthing occurs because individuals have not learnt ways to negotiate outside ofbullying – ways to get their way.
Being bullied becomes a learnt behaviour and strategies to address those negative actions are not thought possible – people become victims and that attracts bullying behaviour. A circle of behaviours that the different peoplein the group continue to play – self-fulfilling philosophies!

Policies and procedures are or at least should be,part of life as a whole. Ground rules established in the home and at work toguide behaviours, to recognise the useful and not useful ways people interact.

Failure to set and maintain effective ground rulesare at the basis of these problems. Getting away with behaviour because no one knew how to address it is not fair – the bully will rarely self diagnose or have remedies available for a change in their behaviours without guidance.

People being encouraged on the one hand to maintaintheir negative behaviours by not being adequately addressed and on the other beinglectured on that behaviour – one might say bullied.

Keeping the global view whilst sounding like it iswork related, performance management is incredibly badly done, when it is infact not undertaken anywhere near the time that it should be. A child, apartner, a parent all need to be made aware of behaviours they adopt, early inthe development of those behaviours so that it is not seen as an option.  There is a need for emotional intelligentdiscussion.

Cause and effect. I would argue that we start bybullying ourselves. The net effect of negative self-talk is to eat away at our self-image,our self-respect. The negative self talk we undertake as we move towards asituation where we lack confidence, telling our self that we won’t do well, wewon’t be accepted, we won’t know, we will fail to some degree.

This behaviour then sows the seed for our behavioursto others to be negative / aggressive (even passive aggressive) so that we can,in our eyes, get back some sense of self because we have it over another.

Too often the bully still returns to work, receives theirpay and continues in the behaviour. Out of work situations, people are stillinvited, accepted with the excuse, "that's how they are”.

Some casestudies –

The case of the bullying teacher

Someone who is good through and through, devoted their life to the teaching of children,introducing them into the external world and life long learning! Well that's the perspective but the reality (not too harsh) is that what too often happens is that this teacher spends more time telling the child what not to do, how to do it differently, solves problems for them before they have a chance, looks ahead and forecasts situations before the child ha an opportunity to do so themselves  If their behaviour is boisterous then it can easy be seen as bullying or at least aggressive and next thing, through the art of judgement, people are acting to curb that (obviously some action needs to be taken) about that child. Helping others be more assertive can be an option, apart from the usual diversionary tactics often used.

The trouble is that once ‘judgment’ has been made, people attract to that and next thing it becomes a self fulfilling outcome. Worse still, reports (and there are many) can hint at this and this sets the next teacher up to expect errant behaviours and the self fulfilling prophecy continues, the child starts to live the judgment.

The case of the bullying managing director.

Impossible to talk to, difficult to work with, his way or the highway!Blue collar environment, bullying behaviours seen as acceptable because command and control management was how it is! High staff turn over, projects not brought to satisfactory completion, ownership of certain jobs meant only certain people know certain things – high risk to business.

At a so called team building abseiling event, this manager broke down when he was cornered to participate and exposed his feelings of insecurity about height, he became vulnerable. This gave his team space to come to him which they did – almost always do – and from that point, his behaviours changed completely.

The case of the bullying production manager

Longest serving employee, he had seen various general managers go, in fact hadexperienced four changes in ownership. All of these so call managers put up with his behaviour, losing manygood people, because they thought he was the only one who knew the machinerywell enough and that if he went it would be a disaster and so, they put up withit!
Arranged a meeting with the union and the managing director – they had notdared to speak to each other about it although they both wanted it fixed – theagreed strategy was ,duty f care, required he change and if he didn’t, theconsequence would be loss of job. Within a week, his change was sotransformational that people were asking for him to be their mentor. Behaviourschanged sustainably.

The case of the bullyingparent

On 16 yrs of age, disruptive in school, non communicative at home.Twice warned of suspension, on suicide watch because of his low self esteem,everyone either walking on egg shells or being aggressive to him - bullying. Nolack of love, no lack of hope things would change but loads of negativejudgment, all of the parts attributed to bullying because there were nostrategies that worked and little positive hope things would change. Justlimping from one day to the next, waiting for the next negative thing to occur –everyone exhausted!

One new strategy introduced and an absolute change occurred. Clarityand simplicity for the parents to change their behaviours combined withpositive expectation and the subject sustained change. That change was a set oftools that helped the parents listen and stopped them from negative supposing.Connectedness was achieved.

Case of the bully at school

14 year old school girl who was seen as making everyone’s life amisery. Parents, teachers, peers and of course, although it wasn’t seen at thetime, her own life. Judgement does that, it makes everything personal ratherthan situational.

Rather than expecting negative behaviours a positive environment ofpositive expectation was setup with her help and she became a mentor. Not aprefect because her past disallowed her from that – that very judgement aloneof course supported her to continue her negative behaviours. A new categorywith new rules was invented and she became sought after. Her grades improved,her relationship at home improved and her peers benefited from her positivesupport.

The case of the bullying husband

Unsatisfied with his wife’s ‘glass is half empty’ approach to life,argument often occurred. When the husband found there was a negative or downenvironment when arriving home he would, as far as he was concerned ask acaring question  "is everything wasalright or more to the point, what’s wrong”! This would bring a ratherforecastable response of "nothing wrong” as she would leave the room unhappy.This would lead to further negative discourse and argument. The problem herewas that the mere question of "is there something wrong” or ”is everything OK”was in fact bullying behaviour as the response could easily be envisaged as astrong pattern had emerged.

Theproblem here was the husband thought he was doing the right thing inquiring andhad not seen that this somewhat innocent question never resulted in anythingpositive. He was blaming his wife for her response but he in fact started thetrain of conversation. When it was pointed out that if he changed hiscommentary the potential for change to the positive was strong, and he did, theresponse was minimal disagreement from then on.

Once judgment is suspended and everyone takes  
responsibility, there is the potential to find new strategies. The old saying, "we have tried everything” is nonsense. This isnever the case! Further more, so much of the trying is predicted on ‘they have always been like this’, ‘if there is a change it won't last long’ type thinking.Bullying thinking – leave the person as they are, disconnect from them, manage them out, believe we are right and they are not!

As a society we need to suspend judgement, not think about people as good or bad or right or wrong – we need to give people a chance to be the best they can be! Leadership

People live up to or down to our expectations andthat becomes self fulfilling.

We need to be less the ever present solution and morethe facilitator!

The building of self esteem gives an individual thepower base to be assertive, that is the position that allows them to resistbullying behaviours and help the deliver of that behaviour find new pathways.It allows the so called individual to call the bluff on what is happening tothem. Victim (a term that in itself bully’sthe receiver into a submissive position)

  Anti-Bullying Solutions   Anti-Bullying Advocate

        Previous writings:- 

 My Hypothesis is that many of the complaints from employees stem from the effects of anti-social behaviour people are subjected to at all levels, within employment and external.


That we have very poor coping skills and tend to pass on the behaviour we get –certainly pass back.

 That many of the currently available techniques focus on the effect rather than the cause of the poor behaviour

 That far too much time is taken focusing on the ‘right and wrong’, ‘fault and blame’s situations and that in turn further exacerbates the problem – entrenches the inappropriate behaviour

 That too much time is taken on the introspective thus allowing behaviour to continue, in consequence authorising that behaviour and desensitising the environment to the potential of remedy

 That ineffectual counselling leads to confusion in all parties – the counsellor believing the message has got across,the counselled being uncertain of what the message was – worse still neither party having a clear (or any) view of the actions and timeframes now in place or the actions to take or the consequences if the behaviours continues.

 The consequence to continuance are rarely clear, even identified

 In the majority of cases, in appropriate behaviour continues on and on. Those associated with the situation most often either excusing the behaviour with "they have always been like that’, ‘we have tried everything’, ‘just ask anyone who has been here for a while, it has always been the same’, ‘the job they do is pivotal and so we just have to work with it’ …..

 Under ‘duty of care’, ‘safe work place’ and just the need ensure that the people of the organisation are growing, that there is integrity to the policies and that people are not being allowed to depreciate it is incumbent on an enterprise to disallow behaviour that depreciates others.

 This is to say nothing of the commercial realisations in allowing these behaviours to remain as part of an environment.

 It is time and timely that a new approach be adopted that clearly tackles the outcomes and inputs to this typeof behaviour from a non emotional personal position rather than the judgmental and somewhat self defeating (self-serving) one of the past.

 Thursday 19th May, 2005,Reprinted Thursday 2nd August 2007 and again 2012

Some further comments from thoseabove, written 6 years ago – much the same basis of thinking, very little realprogress globally.

 It is central to this discussion to understand that this is not about someone’s intent but about their behaviour. Terms such as ‘They took it the wrong way’, or ‘I didn’t mean it like that’ are bullying in themselves in as much as the implication is that the other person is mistaken, it is their fault the words spoken have caused discomfort! So they get to say it and they get to blame for having it received!

 Everyone,including the writer, bullies at some time or other, to varying obvious degrees but still bullying. A few centimetres of water will not drown someone but keep pouring it in every day and soon the person will be gagging for air.

Bullies are at all levels in society and sadly many have achieved their specific accomplishments ’through their bullying behaviours. Many would have no idea at a later stage in the life as to how to interact without overbearing, intimidating, exclusionary behaviours. Because that is how they are, we their interlocutors act in a pattern that is a response to their their behaviour – we in fact feed their behaviours through that.

 Edward deBono speaks about the concept of hindsight – that is what we might wish to think or do, after we have done. People who are with others frequently already know what their behaviour / actions are likely to be before they actually behave and inmost cases their own behaviour is set on the recognition of how they will be –self fulfilling prophecies!

 The impact of one person inappropriate behaviour effects many, to start change the other person has to change theirs first. Don’t get hung up as to whether that is how it should be or not but that if no one does anything different, then the patterns will remain.

 This poses a substantial question and that is, can the other person actually change? If you were to ask others around you they are likely to answer in the negative. This is because there is almost always a feeling that already much has been done to change the status quo and there has been no success – hence no success before,why would we expect it now – back to self-fulfilling prophecies.

 It can be that people only partially recognise of even deny that their behaviour is bullying or harassing. So much of this type of behaviour has taken place for so long,that in fact behaviour associated with ‘b&h’ can be seen as normal – it can even be heard being taught as ‘how to delegate / negotiate …..’.

 The person’s environment has some impact on how they behave, certainly how others behave towards them. If you follow Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, then when people are anywhere in the model other than self actualisation  they will have inbuilt pressures to equalise their circumstances through putting others down.

So someone who is not comfortable with themselves, can find themselves correcting someone else and through that establishing that they knew and the other person didn’t. They can dismiss this effect by ‘don’t be so precious’ etc but unless there was a need to have something corrected, there would be many other ways than public disclosure – almost everyone knows someone who does this or who in fact, does this.

It is now the first day of 2012 and some further comments, much the same basis of thinking, very little real progress globally.

 Every day we read in the papers about bullying in schools and wonder how it can still be there? I know the personal effects of schoolyard bullying and the challenge of getting through that, gaining the confidence to tackle interactions, to build self-esteem, to grow personally.

 Every day not only is the school bully bullying other children but through effect bullying the teachers and the system generally. Unfortunately, as part of this too often if something is tried to alleviate the situation the bully’s parents come to the school and add their bullying into the situation – bullying the teachers.

 Probity makes everyone on the end of fixing the situation extra anxious, actually bullying them – what would the papers say and then, what would the education department say …. – more and more harassment /bullying. So, these ‘kids’ grow into behaviours that continue through to the work place and all of these same challenges continue.

 Just to sign off on this article for the moment, it can be argued that the lack of action by the teacher (responsible person) or the manager (responsible person), leaving the errant behaviour intact is in itself, an act of bullying. "Let the negative attitudes stay with the person everyone sees as the bully, let us not focus on the responsible person – well it is time to focus on the responsible person and the system that make too many people scared to act.

 Now March 2013 and headlines in the AdelaideAdvertiser read BULLYING RIFE IN THE WORKPLACE as if that is a discovery? 15.3.13 – Ben Pike

 Hit Google on that headline and the following articlesappear

 1.Depth of workplace bullyingrevealed | adelaidenow

2 days ago – "It's worrying that there is this perception thatthe workplace is rife with bullying," she said. "There is some anxiety amongstpeople around how ...


Bullying is rife in workplaces | adelaidenow

www.adelaidenow.com.au/.../bullying-rife...workplaces/story-e6frea8...REVELATIONS ofhigh school bullying have sparked debate among readers over intimidation andharassment in the workplace. ... Bullying is rife in workplaces. From: The Advertiser; December 14, 2008 11:30PM. Increase Text Size ...


Amanda Rishworth: Workplace bullying can have traumatic ...

Dec 17, 2012 – While there is some evidence young people areparticularly vulnerable to workplace bullying the issue is not confined to a particular age group ...


Govt takes tough approach in dealing with workplace bullies ...

Feb 13, 2013 – Under the change people with a workplacebullying complaint will have it ....About Ipswich Advertiser .... Bullying is rife in the union movement.


Workplace discrimination, bullying still rife, surveyfinds

www.smh.com.au › Executive StyleManagement
Jun 8, 2011 – Workplacebullying ... still rife. Bullying anddiscrimination are still rife in the workplace, with a national survey finding little improvement inthe ...


Bullying, vilification rife at workplaces |The Australian

Oct 29, 2012 – EMPLOYEES in two unionised workplaces allegedly engaged in drug use, urinated in otherworkers' ... Bullying, vilification rife at workplaces ...


Bullying rife in public service, report says | The Daily Advertiser

Nov 13, 2012 – One in two public servants has witnessed bullying in the workplace ...The Daily Advertiser ... Bullying rife in public service, report says ...


Whistleblowers at CSIRO forced out and 'bullying rife'

www.brisbanetimes.com.au› National
Sep 18, 2012 – Whistleblowers at CSIRO forced out and 'bullying rife' ... aparliamentary inquiry examining workplace bullying in Commonwealth agencies ...


Whistleblowers at CSIRO forced out and 'bullying rife' | South West ...

Sep 18, 2012 – South West Advertiser ... Whistleblowers at CSIRO forced out and 'bullying rife' Save ...Last Thursday, a parliamentary inquiry examining workplacebullying in Commonwealth agenciespublished the group's submission


Whistleblowers at CSIRO forced out and 'bullying rife' | The Ararat ...

Sep 18, 2012 – The Ararat Advertiser ... Whistleblowers at CSIRO forced out and 'bullying rife' Save ...Last Thursday, a parliamentary inquiry examining workplace bullying in Commonwealth agencies published the group's submission.

It hasn’t got better has it? Everyone is too scared tactually do something constructive, too scared of the consequences to them personally for doing something real about it (of being bullied by others or the system) and so, loads of talk and little real action. Hundreds of thousands of people in Australia go to work or school each day dreading what is going to happen to them!