Bullying can take many forms. Like their schoolyard
counterparts, bullies act in a number of ways to target
their victims: ostracism, excessive criticism, engaging the
community to target a resident(s)in a negative ‘campaign’
against them, denying the resident(s) access to benefits or
privileges afforded to other members of the community.
Some bullying tactics are obvious: shouting and
intimidation, those behaviours are often able to be noted,
attributable and documentable, but what about more subtle
forms of bullying?
Ostracism (isolating and ignoring an individual) is an insidious form of bullying, it is a far more
silent and pervasive form of bullying. Ostracism is often
chosen for two reasons. First, it is powerful, and second,
you can get away with it. It’s pretty hard to make a case
for bullying because someone ignores you, and if you were to
confront that person about their behaviour, they can easily
deny it. Unlike verbal or written insults or threatening
physical gestures, ostracism is mostly invisible. It is
often part of a persistent and progressive campaign to
diminish the value and presence of an individual(s) within
the community. This type of harassment is insidious,
persistent and often done with the sole intent to remove or
diminish the individual(s) influence within a community.
If you are the unfortunate target of this behaviour and you
complain or point out other problems in the community, the
bully is usually adept at making it appear as if you are the
cause. Other residents may cease to limit contact with you
except that forced by social norms. Your efforts to comment
during meetings result in being interrupted, spoken over or
your thoughts or comments being passively dismissed. New
residents observe how the group treats certain people, and
they are often advised by their new colleagues that the
targeted person is a “problem”. Anxious to fit in, they copy
and reflect the behaviour of the bullying individual or
group, perpetuating the behaviour and the cycle.
Targets are chosen by bullies because they are
conscientious, ethical and stand their ground. They are also
quite competent, which makes bullies worried that their own
level of incompetency or questionable ethics will be
exposed. Standing up for one's rights and the rights of
other residents within the community does not mean that an individual is a troublemaker.