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When Joking becomes Bullying

We have all heard about bullying in various contexts. It can manifest in various forms and places, including the workplace, school and social gatherings. In this article, we discuss how joking can quickly turn into bullying since the line between the two is not always clear.

In certain cases, bullying may be perceived as joking, with no awareness about the impacts of the emotional abuse inflicted. In the workplace, when employees are bullied, their motivation and productivity diminish, hence the business suffers as well.

We need to be very clear about bullying. If you are joking or teasing someone with something he gets hurt about or is a sensitive issue for him or her, it is no longer a joke but becomes abuse. When someone is visibly uncomfortable and asks you to stop, it means that you have taken the joke too far and should cease immediately. The same applies in social contexts, especially if the same person is constantly targeted for jokes. Abuse creates a toxic environment and destroys relationships.

With that said, everyone can be guilty of going overboard in certain moments. In such cases, it takes courage and a deep sense of responsibility to identify that you may have been in the wrong and apologise to the person.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture where victimisation is normal and bullying people just because we do not like them is normal. One example would be management people writing off other employees’ work in a destructive manner, demeaning their subordinates and destroying their confidence.

This can have severe repercussions on one’s mental health. Repeated bullying may culminate into aggressive outbursts. It is important to stand up for yourself and disallow the bullies from continuing. This can be achieved by setting up boundaries and creating an appropriate course of action.

Do you have any experiences to share with us?

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