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Bullying (Part 11): Addressing the Misuse of Power

  • Posted on November 22, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Social hierarchies exist within governments, within businesses, within non-profit organization, and within our social groups.  Avoidance of these situations is not possible.  But that does not mean we have to tolerate bullying behaviors within these abstract “environments.”

The reasons bullying occurs vary, but inadequate leadership skills are often involved.  Some bully consciously; others do so subconsciously.  Both types of bullying may occur from the same individual, even towards to the same victim.

Those who bully consciously can often justify their bullying behaviors, either for the sake of self-interest or for the sake of the group.  Addressing this choice involves addressing the justification for bullying.  When is bullying justified?  Is it ever justified?  There are many management and leadership strategies that can be used instead of bullying.  How do we teach those strategies?  What do we do when someone lacks the skill to use those strategies effectively?  Asking these questions, answering them, and equipping those in leadership positions to utilize non-bullying strategies would be an effective means to discourage bullying.  Consequences for relying on bullying to enforce authority would discourage bullying further.

For those who bully subconsciously—meaning they do not recognize their behavior as bullying—the best strategy would be to make them aware of their own bullying behaviors, and then equip them with alternative strategies.

Individuals can do these things on their own by assessing their own behavior and the behavior of those they look to as leaders.  Groups can do these things for their own group, and share the strategies they develop with other groups.  But, the ideal is to address this as a society.  This is, unfortunately, unlikely.  Many countries resort to bullying in their government, in their business, and in their social groups.  It goes in the toolbox because it works, and alternative strategies require more skill and more effort.

Power is not going to go away any time soon.  The corruption of power is not going to go away any time soon.  Perhaps it is my faith in God, or perhaps it is my lack of faith in man, but I don’t think we’ll ever progress to a point where power isn’t misused.  Perhaps it is my faith in God, or perhaps it is my faith in individuals, but I do think fighting the good fight, staying vigilant, and calling for change has a purpose.  We may never attain the ideal, but that isn’t a reason not to try.