Sunday, June 4, 2017

Breaking the Cycle

When you are so exposed to bad behavior you can sense it coming
I joined a friend at her place of work on her lunch break.  She can’t leave, but she can have visitors.  Some of her coworkers joined us.

A woman marched herself through our group, loudly clapping and shouting, “Come on!  Get to the conference room for the celebratory lunch!  I’m starving!”

One of the women stood up to follow.

“We already stopped in,” my friend said as she motioned for the coworker to sit back down.

The interrupting woman grabbed the arm of the person about to sit, shouting, “I have to talk to you NOW.  In private.”

“Let go of her!” my friend snapped.  “We are on our lunch break.  You can meet with her after lunch.  I thought you said you were ‘starving’.”

The woman looked around the group and left.

“Should we have gone with her?” someone asked.

“No,” I said.  “I recognized the bullying based on my own workplace.  She wants to break up any cohesion.”  I turned to the woman who had stood to follow, the one who was grabbed and pulled.  

“You appeared to be the weakest because you obeyed her order to leave, then someone else’s order to sit.  So she upped her abuse by putting her hands on you to see how far she could push you without you pushing back.  She crossed a bold line.  Yell at her to take her hands off you.”

“I’m not strong.  I can’t do this,” the woman replied.

“I know,” I said.  “It’s not easy.  Later, find her when she is seated, and with some witnesses, remain standing and calmly tell her that she is never to put her hands on you again.  Don’t wait for her response, which will be acting shocked and claiming that you are lying.  Depart immediately, leaving an image in the witnesses’ minds of her attacking you.”

Good or bad advice?

I want to make it clear that I do not blame the victim.  She seemed weaker and that is why she was chosen.  But the aggressor chose to attack.  We were all in the room with this more susceptible person and we did not attack her.  She was bullied because the perpetrator thought she could get away with it.  Normal people don't go around attacking vulnerable people.

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