An Open Letter to the Bully

Knock it off.

The following open letter appeared on Jim Bouchard’s web site. It is so well done, I wanted to repeat it in its entirety.

“This world is tough enough these days and you don’t need to make it any worse for anyone else.

What you’re doing is wrong–period and believe it or not you may one day get your ass kicked. Your ass kicking may not be obvious. You might not get body-slammed a la Casey Heynes; you may simply find out one day that the people you thought you could push around are gone. You’ll notice that you’re alone when you find yourself in a situation where you most need the help of others.

To young people: I won’t give you the Sesame Street version of the consequences of bullying. It is true that a high percentage of young people that end up in jail start out as bullies–but do most bullies become criminals or is it simply that most people that become criminals have a pre-disposition toward bullying?

No–the bully does not always become a criminal. Lots of bullies end up in boardrooms–and bedrooms. Some bullies become corporate executives, managers, politicians, teachers and cops. Some become mothers and fathers. Some abuse workers, some abuse spouses, some abuse children- physically and emotionally. When you bully your children- you cripple them.

You may be an outcast, or you may lack self-esteem. You may be bullying to feed your ego or because you’ve been bullied and you’re trying to establish some sense of control in your life. You may in fact be weak.

You may also be powerful. We now understand that a bully may be socially adept, intelligent, popular, attractive and charismatic. Those qualities may serve you well in the short term–but without discipline, compassion and wisdom your power is difficult and expensive to maintain.

As a bully, you are never an authentic leader. You are a dictator. You get your way by imposing your will, not by sharing your power. In the long run, power can only be expanded through sharing. The problem with the dictator is that there is always revolt on the horizon. Consider that as you continue your autocratic ways. The more you bully–the more you create opposition.

You know what you’re doing. If the psychologists are right–you probably even derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from your bullying ways. For your own sake, analyze the cost of that satisfaction against the long-term benefits of developing authentic leadership and cultivating a network of willing followers who you can rely on when times are tough–or when you really need their help.

Slowly the world is waking up. If the meek are to inherit the earth, this may be the time. More targets are standing up and standing together. There will always be bullies, but the strategy is changing. Bullying might never be eradicated . . .

but you–the bully, will be defeated.

Simple (not easy) steps to defeat the bully:

Stand up–this doesn’t necessarily mean a physical confrontation; it means facing your tormentor and your torment and dealing with it directly.

Cultivate self-confidence–particularly for, but not only for kids. You can’t change others, but you can change you. Focus on your talents and abilities–your best revenge is success.

Stand together–this means reaching out to others when you need help in dealing with a bully and it means ending our culture of the “passive by-stander.” When you see someone else being bullied, it is your responsibility to lend support.”