Everyone wants to belong. It is hard-wired into our genetic code for survival.
Facebook. The well documented playground for many bullies, can also be a great place for people to share and connect with one another in a positive way.
I am shocked at the people who want to connect through the medium and sometimes suprised by those who have chosen for whatever reason not to connect.
We all receive facebook requests from people we don't feel the same connection that maybe they feel with us. Yet, about a year ago I was stunned when a childhood bully (one of the lightweights) reached out on FB to be "friends". That is not a word I would have ever associated with that person, but I passed it off as they must be suffering from some sort of memory issue. Recently, I received an invite to be friends from someone who used to torture me. Tease me, hit me, steal things and intentionally set out to hurt my feelings or make me look bad in front of others.
I see the same thing in the workplace. There are bulllies who don't see the consequences of their actions. They may not get confronted, but how many quiet brilliant people have left a company or an organization because management was unwilling to deal with (fire) a bully. It seems so obvious from my vantage point and maybe things are more complicated than I can see. That said, bullies in the work place kill employee morale, just in the same way playground bullies ruin children's self estem.
I found myself face to face (with a picture) of one of my tormentors and I was puzzled as to how our memories or experiences could be so different. Is is like Lance Armstrong's everyone does it so it is ok defense? Or maybe this person thinks I am still a doormat and they need a new one?
There is truth to whatever does not kill you makes you stronger. For a few moments, I was that kid in the playground frightened stiff. All of the pain and emotion rushed forward. In that moment I committed to continue to be a stand for anti-bullying efforts and to prepare my child for when he encounters them in his life. BECAUSE HE WILL. As an adult I realize that everyone has demons. We have to train our children to be kind to each other and embrace our differences. The world will be a better place for it.
There are a few gems from my Catholic upbringing and treating others how you want to be treated "do unto others" that I try to embody. I believe it makes me a better manager. No one who has ever worked for me would claim I am 'soft". I drive for results and hold high standards, but I strive to be fair.
Now, others may disagree on where the 'fair' line is, but being true to myself is the best litmus test I can find. I was gullible then, I still believe in the good in people today. Maybe it is a detriment and maybe it is a strength. The jury will be out on that until I meet St. Peter and I get the official scorecard. Until then I will continue to try my best.
As for the bullies who have reached out to me. I am not enlightened enough to forgive you yet.
To my working mother friends, please be a stand for those you love:
Bullies have to be chased out of our conference rooms as well as our playgrounds.