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Confronting the borderline of disrespect and bullying Posted on October 4, 2018 in Mental Health

The borderline between disrespect and bullying or harassment is when negativity becomes habitual, concentrating on one person.  A manager whose snide comment dismisses that you were late because your child was sick, is disrespectful and dismissive.  This one-off throwaway put-down is hurtful, unpleasant and unwarranted. But many might brush this aside.


Continual disrespect requires assertive feedback

When a person keeps up disrespectful behaviour, it becomes bullying. Give them feedback, reminding them of respectful communication. It may take a couple of approaches. Ask someone to help you practice what you will say. Report the incident factually to HR, owners or leaders. Be assertive and develop resilience.

What are the characteristics of a bully?

Derives pleasure from torment

Bullies feel elevated by trampling on others - an extremely limited, adversarial world view. 

Believe they have the power

Bullies detect another person's disadvantage, usually because there's more than one bully (a gang), or because the bully occupies a higher rank.

Relentlessly mean and nasty 

Whether it's teasing, badmouthing or outright persecution, the bully doesn’t stop.  They find opportunities to have another go at a person. They may specialize in one or more types of persecution - on social media, texts, emails, physically, verbally, sexually or emotionally.

Confronting the bully is difficult for many of us

They often simply deny it, pretend that it's "all in your head" or accuse you of bullying them. They can be crude and vicious - not interested in reasonable discussion. But as people speak out about wrongful attitudes and actions, workplaces and institutions must continue to penalise harassment and discourage disrespectful talk and behaviour.

Organisations must value and teach people respectful communication skills. We shouldn’t just identify and outlaw the bad behaviours, we should provide clear examples of positive communication and respectful relationships.

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ABOUT EVE ASH | web profile

In addition to being a Psychologist, Author and Producer of over 700 films and videos, Eve is a dynamic speaker and regular keynote presenter on creating a winning mindset. Eve understands the business of communication, relationships and success. Read more.