Bullying and Ostracism

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.



January 8, 2021

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