On Pink Shirt Day at NOW we’re reflecting on what we can do to prevent bullying. We’ve always been inspired by the origins of Pink Shirt Day, when two brave boys distributed pink shirts to stand up for a new kid who had been picked on for wearing a pink shirt to school.
As a parent what I’ve learned is that there isn’t One Big Bully out there on the schoolyard menacing my child. The bully is in all of us. It’s a culture in which it’s a sport to ridicule and make fun of others. Where we teach way too much about aggression and violence. And how to solve problems through yelling and fighting. As a parent of young children I am constantly up against my own failings, and a wider culture built on exclusion, aggression and just plain being mean.
Examples? Well I can’t teach my kids to include not exclude people and then turn on Survivor at night. Or tell them not to be mean and then stay silent when a friend is homophobic. To solve problems by using their words and then slam the door on their Dad. Or preach compassion and then ridicule those I disagree with.
I’m learning that the antidote to bullying is this – to practice kindness in every sphere of life. And kindness doesn’t mean being a pushover – you can kindly, calmly and firmly state your limits and your values.
Here at work stopping bullies means insisting that we be respectful to each other, even when we disagree. It means listening when we get bad news instead of yelling and blaming. It means taking ownership of mistakes and learning from problems instead of dumping on others. It means accepting everyone’s strengths and limitations and setting clear expectations. It means listening to others carefully even when what they say is really hard to hear. And in the rare instances when clients are disrespectful to our team, it means saying no.
It also means speaking up for what we believe in – calmly, firmly, and yes, with kindness.
It’s how we try to do business, and to us it’s kind of a big deal.
What do you think? Let us know. How can we stop the bully in all of us?
Photo thanks to SweetonVeg