Bullying Only Begins On The Playground
I knew that I was screwed even before I opened the door for the meeting. I knew that my sales manager was going to bully me into agreeing on my new sales figures for the upcoming year. The company had a budget in mind which was aggressive or, in my opinion, unrealistic. Our bonus and commission rate was supposed to be an incentive so it was based on our growth, not necessarily on just the final sales numbers. An interesting over complicated alga-rhythm that felt more like playing the shell game at some shady carney side show than holding a regular job.
Now don't get me wrong, I know how difficult it can be to motivate people, especially when you are in charge of overseeing a guy like me who was a spirited, independent, go getter, not overly motivated by money and not to mention, (at the time) young, a bit cocky and probably too smart and intuitive for my own good. What was a sales manager to do?
Well, pushing unrealistic sales goals on to someone while telling them pretty much that they have to agree with them in order to keep their job isn't incredibly inspiring to me. However after the typical corporate dance, I relented and realized I wasn't going to win this battle. Later, upon the quarterly sales meeting when I was asked why my sales numbers were not where they "should be," I could do nothing but smile and say, "well, if the goals were realistic in the first place we wouldn't be having this conversation."
To which my sales manager replied, "these are the goals you agreed to."
You have to be kidding me!
I only "agreed" to your goals because you gave me no choice. You and I both knew that they were unrealistic, but they were what YOU wanted so they would fit into your budget, not mine. If I had my way, I'd be working 30 hours a week rather than 65. I don't need more money, you do. I am fine with what I have now. I don't need more stuff, I need more time so I don't lose my freakin' mind. More time to spend with my family and friends, more time to be healthy, more time to enjoy life. I'm sorry that you and your organization have an insatiable appetite for the almighty dollar, but I live simply and I would like it if you would allow my job to reflect that simplicity as well. I thought.
In short they wouldn't. They wanted what they wanted, with or without me. Regardless if I was top sales man just moments ago; it's a "What Have You Done For Me NOW" kind of world.
Unfortunately at the time I only had about a quarter of this conversation with him, the rest of it was going on in my head. But I knew I wouldn't last much longer in corporate America. The allure of playing the game was fading; I was sick of the dog and pony show. I didn't get out as quickly as I'd hoped, it took several more grueling years, but the day finally did come when I left... Well, actually I was downsized, but that is a story for another day.
"Get him out of here..." My partner tried shouting in my ear. It was barely audible over the noise from the music and crowd.
"What?!" I yelled back more out of habit than not knowing I had to get the principle, the son of a prominent politician out of this club before things got further out of hand.
I could see the scene unfolding right in front of me. A fight between our principle and some young, drunk stud who was probably tired of his girlfriend being hit on by this rich, prick with entitlement issues and ego that needed to be knocked down a few pegs.
However, I was one of the "lucky"one's hired to keep this asshole safe. In reality we spent more time trying to protect him from himself than any outside threat.
In slow motion, drink glasses crashed to the ground and fists started flying. I pitched myself forward into the fray toward the two combatants. Only there weren't just two. No, the guy my principle decided to mess with ended up having a couple friends... Oh the joy!
I managed to wedge past the two friends, pushing them back as I verbally directed them to stand down and get help (probably something much more crude than that I'm sure, I don't really remember what I actually said).
Blowing past them I set my sights on the two engaged in (not so) mortal combat. Like the bow of a ship I split between them projecting them apart, then immediately redirecting my principle around toward the exit.
At first he was stunned but he quickly redirected his attention on the man he was fighting with.
That wasn't an option any longer. I needed to get him out of here pronto, before it got any worse. So I spun him around, yelling at him to move toward the door. Simultaneously I firmly struck him in the abdomen and with the web of my hand pushed his head/neck down protecting him from any further rear assaults. I pushed him through the hole in the crowd that one of my partners was making as he lead the way toward the exit. We were moving quickly as the bouncers began to respond to the incident.
In a blink we were back in the limo where after I made sure our principle was not injured, I told him, "if you try doing that shit again, you won't have to worry about the other guy; I'll knock you out!"
"You work for me buddy, so watch how you talk to me." He said like a spoiled child.
"No, "Skippy," I work for your dad. And he doesn't pay me enough for that kind of shit!" I said matter of factly.
After a short, quiet ride, we dropped him off home and the next day I quit that assignment.
You see, bullying doesn't stop on the playground, that's where it starts! Little bullies turn into big bullies. And to make matters worse, many people who were bullied often turn into bullies themselves.
On my last two blog post: Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 1) & (Part 2) I share some of my path both as a kid as well as now as an adult. I went into some detail about my opinion on bullying as well as policies and programs created to deter bullying.
The short stories I shared with you at the beginning of this blog are just two small personal examples of how bullying manifests itself into our adult lives. If the person doesn't work through their issues, they will continue to create unhealthy situations in their own and others lives.
Dr. Stephen Karpman illustrated this well in his "Drama Triangle."
There are three behaviors at work here:
The Victim: They feel that they are powerless.
The Rescuer: The "Fixer," always trying to fix or come to the rescue of someone.
The Persecutor: The Bully. They try to feel better at someone else's expense.
You see, a person with a victim mentality will often become a rescuer or persecutor in other relationships. The victim mentality will cause the person to seek a Persecutor (someone or something that is bullying them) and a Rescuer (someone or something that will "save" them). It is difficult to hold on to that Victim mentality without the other two dynamics at work as well.
Further, the Rescuer isn't rescuing out of the goodness of their heart, they are playing that role for their own reasons. Trying to fill a hole that they have in themselves by playing it out in other ways. This is unhealthy and often hazardous for everyone involved.
The Persecutor is also typically someone who was victimized by someone else as well. Basically the Bullied turns into the Bully. Each of these rolls needs the other to function. What would Batman be without the Joker?
David Emerald created a model called TED or The Empowerment Dynamic which is a healthy perspective shift from Karpman's Drama triangle. (See the Illustration Below)
It's all about FOCUS. People with a victim mentality will focus on:
- The Problem
- Their Emotions
- Their Limitations (What they CANNOT control)
Where a person with a healthy perspective will focus on:
- Options (What they CAN do)
- Action (Next step)
So, how does one make the shift?
A simple, yet not so easy process.
I call it iexperience. It looks like this:
Your Perception (glass half empty or full) influences your Choices - Which done enough times become your Habits - Regarding how you deal w/your Emotions, People & Situations. Those habits will contribute to how you Respond To Your Emotions which will then influence the Experience that you are having.
Your power comes with your ability to Choose. If you don't like what your experience is you can make different Choices that, over time will create new Habits that will alter your emotional response which changes your experience, perception and so forth.
This is a very powerful tool, but it can be very difficult to actually do. As I often say, simple, not easy. =)
Just like in my story in Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 1) about my brother and me: When I stood up to him bullying me. It wasn't so much that I "Won" the fight between he and I. It was more that I stood up for myself. That I refused to be a victim any longer.
If we don't stand up for ourselves in the right way (meaning we are not looking for vengeance rather, balance. Most good / least harm for everyone). Many people will often get caught in Karpman's Drama Triangle. They will play the various roles (victim, persecutor, rescuer) over and over in their respective relationships trying to find some relief. It never works. They have to shift to finding balance. To being what I call a PeaceWalker, an Ethical Protector, or Ethical Warrior.
Some people are drawn into certain positions for unhealthy reasons. Seeking positions of power like law enforcement, teachers, officers, managers, politicians, supervisors, dictators, CEO's, warlords, prison guards, foremen, owners of companies, etc. The position is chosen not to help, empower, serve, create or inspire. No, sometimes these positions are sought after so that person has power over others so that they feel protected or because it serves a narcissistic or sadistic tendency. This is not uncommon.
Not only can the bully on the playground grow up to become the bully in the office, so can the bullied. The tyrannical boss to the ruthless dictator; the power-tripping cop to the sadistic commanding officer; the pretentious teacher to the abusive parent. Abuse creates more abuse, it's as simple as that.
In order to stop this cycle we need more protectors, more PeaceWalkers. People who are confident. People who have the right ethic. People who have the right skills. People who have the right perspective to Live - Protect - Inspire.
Keep going on YOUR PeaceWalking journey!