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…they become work-place bullies. I have read several articles recently about bullying in schools amongst kids. But, in looking around the different venues in my life, I see that bullying doesn’t end at high school graduation.

Photo by greencandy8888 at flickr cc

I usually agree with Seth Godin, but today’s post hit me funny. Godin concludes the post by writing, “Being a bully is a choice, and falling for this cycle, permitting it to continue, is a mistake.” I agree that being a bully isn’t only a choice, it’s a habit. What hit me more strongly was the last word–mistake. In talking about the post with my colleagues at our bloggers café, it may be that his wording is throwing me off, but I read “mistake” as something the victim is choosing to ignore thereby making the “mistake.” I explained that suffering due to the words and actions of a bully is a form of abuse not a mistake. Bullies create and thrive on the fear they instill in their victims. In these tough economic times, the people I know who are bullied on a daily basis have no out available to them. There is not another job for them and yes, they’re looking. Go to HR and file a complaint? Sure, but then there’s the retaliation, including being fired, to add to the stress.

What about the members of the tribe, to use Godin’s term, that witness the bullying? What resources are available to us to intervene effectively? What are the repercussions for the victim? While we didn’t come up with any solutions, we started a vital conversation. If nothing else, we may be more self-aware our own dealings with our co-workers.

Nonviolent Communication (book)

10 Tips for Dealing with Bullies at Work (article)

Cross-posted at Writing Matters.