Feedbunk Time

bulls

Two Bulls tussling and  sizing each other up.

It wasn’t until years after the fact that I realized I’d spent the first dozen years of my adult life working in a verbally and mentally abusive  work environment.

Time and distance had given me  perspective.

There is a fine line between good-natured teasing vs using manipulation, hollering, and shame to control people.

As I was at the counter of the lumberyard this morning  four guys from a former crew I worked with stepped into the showroom.  I kept my eyes on  Dana, the secretary  as the boss and one of the other guys slid up on each side of me and started to heckle.  I could tell Dana was getting irritated because the nonsense.

Have you ever been around a herd of cattle at feeding time?  They push and butt,  crowding the smaller and weaker  cattle back from the bunk.  That is what it felt like this morning at the store counter.  Only I no longer automatically back out-of-the-way.  Depending on the circumstances, I will as often as not, stay right where I’m at.

Turn the other cheek is not the only option in my relational tool bag.

Sometimes bullies will take that as a green light to continue.  My favorite and #1 approach to a bad attitude from someone is my sense of humor.  It has  served me well numerous occasions.  But throw a little alcohol into the mix (guys I’m dealing with/ not me) and it takes a little discernment to know whether to joke and banter or push back, occasionally, pretty hard.

I’d love to have a conversation here about dealing with mean-spirited teasing, at work, in your extended family, etc.

How do you decide when  it has crossed the line from teasing to??

(I’m hesitant to call it abuse, but there’s definitely more going on that good natured banter)

How do you handle that sort of thing?

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13 thoughts on “Feedbunk Time

  1. Depends on the situation ~ you’re wise to assess who’s doling it out. If it feels like it could escalate I quietly step aside but I’m not above calling someone out on their b.s. either.

    The person I report to is mean. he’s a picker – a needler – and he likes to pick, pick, pick and say snarky things around colleague followed by a smile and the words “just kidding” — we’ve had this conversation before, he & I, ” There’s always a little truth
    behind every “just kidding”, a little curiosity behind every “just wondering”, a little knowledge behind every “I don’t know”, and a little emotion behind every “I don’t care”. But he will never change because that’s who he is – a self-centered jerk. No longer mine to own and I’ve given up trying. My long term strategy is to limit my interactions. Sad, but it is what it is.

    PS – I have spoken up in public and shut the situation down, but in hindsight, it was risky. Don’t care, worth it.
    MJ

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  2. PS — as a farm girl from a cattle operation, the cows were often the meanest. They’d shove the bull out of the way to get to the feed 🙂 Thought you’d like the image of Ferdinand getting pushed to back by the girls in the herd!

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    • I would have to agree. Especially a mama cow w/ her calf…no mistaking the gleam in her eye that she would take me in a heartbeat. 🙂 Don’t you just love farm analogies? 🙂 It’s fun knowing we share a common farm background. DM

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  3. I don’t remember dealing with such at work, although I may have. Of course, I’ve worked by myself for twenty-five years, and select my own customers. That kind of culling at the front end is helpful.

    I’ve been in relationships of various sorts outside of work with the kind of people you describe. Now, I’m not, and I haven’t been for some years. Whether it’s a social media thread, or a real-life relationship, “I don’t have to put up with this” usually works. When the nastiness comes from someone you can’t cut ties with it’s harder, but humor often helps. Also, I have a little three-word phrase I pull out and use on particularly difficult occasions. I never say it aloud, of course, but it always makes me laugh to think that I’m even thinking it. And sometimes, I remind myself that “I’m the adult in this room.” Then, I act accordingly.

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    • I too am self employed and sign the paychecks so those two details do help. I’m related to one of the culprits so as several of you have alluded..if humor won’t work, plan be is keeping my distance. I didn’t come to this decision lightly but it does help. Good to hear form you Linda! DM

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  4. DM, I’m with you that humor (WHEN it’s possible) works well. I think humor probably only works with a tease, though, not a true bully….a tease is playing, perhaps at your expense, but playing all the same… and if they are thickskinned enough to take it, and you play back, sometimes that’s enough to move things to a more comfortable point (I have mostly encountered guys my age who are like this..they are just big, insensitive jokers. It’s about power but they are not that invested so they back off if you push back). Sometimes killing someone with kindness also works (continuing to be extra nice and gracious in response to their bullying) but again, this would have to be with someone who is not at the worst end of bully-dom– because they have to feel shame at their own poor treatment of others to want to start emulating your kindness A real bully, I think, is trying to assert power or control the situation, and something about it is quite serious to them, not just “all in fun.” (Or, as you said, they are drunk–or I would add, really overtired– and have bad judgement). Whatever the case, I feel like simply removing myself from the situation is my best option….blatant ignoring, leaving the room, getting off the phone. Refusing to engage. The fairer people, who need you for more than the charge they get out of abusing you, will often, over time, quit bullying (or so has been my experience)- because they need to engage with you more than they need to abuse you. (This has worked for me with family members whose need to control situations makes them bully others…) But I think emjayandthem is right when it comes to the worst bulllies. Limiting interactions is often all there is because the other person is a jerk, and that’s all there is to it. Jerks respond to shows of force, but a show of force is really unworkable when the person really does have authority -like a much bigger kid or adult, a boss or manager, an unethical policeman… I guess at its worst, when bullying is a true abuse of power, that only leaves one thing- prayer. I guess that’s what makes so many truly oppressed people so strongly, unwaveringly religious….that sometimes having an invisible friend a million times more powerful and inherently more fair (God!) provides invisible solace and power when nothing else does. Faith moves mountains?
    Hmm. The usual Lisa-goes-on-and-on answer… 🙂

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  5. For years I worked with the worse of humanity, the British on holiday.
    Rude, arrogant, usually drunk, ignorant. . .
    You’ll be getting the picture by now.
    Working at a seaport we’d see them all and some only too ready to swing at you.
    Only in security you can’t back down, EVER.
    As a result we adopted the buddy system, i,e you hold him and I hit him.
    Funny, the CCTV cameras always went blank at that point.
    We never got round to talking to maintenance about that either.

    Seriously though.
    De-escalating the situation by laughter does work on some but occasionally you do have to stand your ground. Fun bit about it is when you do the support you get from those who are aren’t part of the problem has no bounds and for the most part the idiot loses face and quietens down almost immediately. Especially if the onlookers give you a round of applause.

    As for them coming back? A sinner board worked a treat for us.
    We used to take a happy snap of the offender and pin it up for all to see.
    Only one guy ever complained only to find that he could never get a ticket to travel.
    Funny that.
    Lovely girls we had at the ticket desk, very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A very good question. I think there is a deep down knowing, a nudging from the Holy Spirit to stand up for the weak one. And I also have a really good death stare 😳 just ask my co-workers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Persiflage – friendly, light-hearted bantering. Anything else is bullying. I was bullied this week (hasn’t happened in a long time) in front of a whole bunch of people and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Think I have gone into passive-aggressive mode (not the most adult thing to do, but it is working for me in this situation, actually more passive-avoidance mode, if the truth be told).

    Liked by 1 person

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