You might have a strong personality, with equally strong characteristics that make you a natural leader and a go getter by heart. It is not a rare occurrence to find such individuals, they are much needed in society. But, are you perhaps misconstruing strong personality traits with oppressive and controlling behavioural patterns? Let’s find out.
Bullying can be described as any unwanted aggressive behaviour that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Wherever there are people interacting with each other, there exists the possibility that bullying can co-exist.
Bullies put people down in order to lift themselves up. If you like seeing your colleagues fail at a task, or if you engage with others primarily in competition, you will likely be less inclined to be supportive of others’ successes and more inclined to ignore their feelings. Thriving off other people’s misfortunes may feel good, but it leads to bullying. The same applies when you are given the task of listening. Do you listen to the next person and their opinion and only think of how you will respond? Or do you listen to the next person with empathy and the purpose of actually understanding what they are saying so as to as informatively respond to them. If you care about how your actions affect the next person, you are less likely to act in a way that will harm others.
With regard to the physical body language between people, ask yourself how important it is for you to be seen as the tough/strong/dominant person. If you pride yourself on being the strongest among your peers or colleagues, it could easily lead to you putting yourself above them. You can end up belittling them, challenging them to tasks you know you are physically stronger to complete and then ridiculing them for losing while it was never a fair contest to begin with. If you find yourself getting satisfaction from such a situation, you are very susceptible to being a bully.
In the workplace you can look out for signs of bullying your colleagues, specifically those under you by doing an introspection on how many times you send people out to do things for you and how that makes you feel. If you like the fact that people have to do what you say, and that they have to obey your instructions, it could be a warning sign that you could be or become a bully. Superiority needs to be put to better use. Being a more helpful mentor is a better way to use your managerial or supervisory role in the workplace.
Bullying is definitely not limited to children and schooling systems or institutions. Adults and professionals are highly susceptible to both experiencing and exercising bullying.