I’m confused…

In 2007, David Shepherd and Travis Price of Berwick, Nova Scotia distributed 50 pink shirts after, ninth-grade, student Chuck McNeill was bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school.

The Nova Scotia Premier proclaimed the second Thursday of September ‘Stand Up Against Bullying Day’.

In 2008, British Columbia proclaimed February 27, anti-bullying day.

In 2012, the UN declared May 4, Anti-Bullying Day.

In 2018, New Zealand celebrated ABD on 18 May.

Anti-Bullying Week, in England, is November 12th-16th. The first Monday of October is World Day, Bullying Prevention. According to Twitter, yesterday was Anti-Bullying Awareness Day…

If there was a case-study in communications and a lesson in how not to get a message across, it has to be ‘awareness-days-weeks’.

It’s not just bullying.

• Poverty, 18th October or 9th June.

• Disability, March or July.

• Animal cruelty, December, October, April.

• Animal rights, June or December…

That’s why press releases from PR companies announcing, this day or that, slide into my shredder.

If something is bad enough, often enough, every day has to be an awareness day.

I’ve thought about this, a lot, since a clandestine meeting, in a greasy-spoon, with a big fellah.

He asked if we could meet confidentially. He arrived with the ubiquitous black-rucksack, stuffed with work to take home and a brick of a laptop.

We talked about the rugby.

‘What happened to England in the second half?’

He settled behind mug of tea and his story unfolded. He was being bullied at work… by a woman old enough to be his mother. By the sound of it, she’s a real piece of work.

Aggressive and delights in being aggressive, has nice line in embarrassment and humiliation.

Her department is way behind on all delivery markers, fundamentally there aren’t enough staff and agency has been banned.

She doesn’t have the guts to take the bad news up the line, so she bullies down the line. ‘Just go do it and don’t bring me bad news.’

Subtle things; impossible deadlines, unreachable targets, early and late meetings. Insults, rudeness, unwarranted criticism.

When the department gets a rare visit from her boss she becomes Latte and cream cakes. Behind his back, she assassinates him.

It’s a toxic mess. It starts because;

‘… there aren’t enough staff, no prospect of getting any and finishes with the threat of a CQC visit….

…how not to run a health service in 18 words.

What to do? My advice was simple; look for another job. Take your time, leave the NHS if you have to.

My man has a family and a mortgage, yup, I know what you’re thinking. But, also a degree from a good Uni and a Masters from a business school.

Why stay? Because he likes the NHS and his dad was in estates, his mum was a practice manager. His sister’s a nurse.

What to do?

Bullies look for a reaction. Show you are phased, hacked-off or miserable and they’ve won. Find a way to grit your teeth stay calm and let the moment pass. Don’t react.

Keep notes. Write down what happens, when and where. A detailed contemporaneous note. If push comes to shove, let the bully see you are writing down what they are saying.

Read it back to them; ‘Is

this what you are saying? Have I got this right?’

If your performance is unreasonably criticised, ask;

‘Ok, help me here; what would you have done?’ They’ll rarely have an answer and will back-off.

Find an ally. The HR department, union or professional organisation, should have a formal way of dealing with bullies. Otherwise a colleague. Don’t wait for it to get bad.

Take your notes and witnesses if you have them, and say; ‘I am not prepared to put up with this and I want you to do something.’

You might have to be brave. Bullies aren’t. Confront the bully and say, in front of others;

‘I am not prepared to have you speak to me like that. If I’ve done something wrong, tell me, help me put it right.

If we are not performing well enough show us how to do it, but never speak to me like that again because I, too, want us to do better and you are not helping.’

If you see someone being bullied; speak up.

Say; ‘that’s no way to speak to people, deal with people or get the best out of people, and none of us will put up with it…

Every day is stop-bullying day and it starts on Monday.

Have a good weekend.

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.