A Letter to a Bully

| | Inspiration
A Letter to a Bully post image

Have you ever been bullied?

Even if you haven’t, chances are you know someone who has.

It doesn’t matter whether it was long ago as a kid or now as an adult.  Even when you have the maturity to recognize bullying for what it is, the hateful actions of a bully can still wreak havoc in your life.

Being bullied feels like an assault.  Whether it is on your person or your character being bullied can deal a debilitating blow, especially when someone has power over you such as a boss or a teacher.

Bullies tap into your fears and can do damage to your self image if you don’t find a way to take a stand for yourself and get the support you need.

Someone close to me experienced being severely bullied in the workplace over 5 years ago.  Even today the impact lingers.  He felt powerless because the bully was his boss and he had no idea how to get the support he needed to address it.  He suffered in silence fearing that going to anyone in his company, including HR, would somehow reflect poorly on him and just make it worse.

Since then I have been much more awake to bullying in every dimension of life.  With a teenage daughter now I have once again seen it play out in school and it looks a lot like it did when I was a kid, yet worse with social media and texting.  It is amazing what someone will type and send that they would probably never say to a persons face.  I have also both witnessed and experienced bullying in the online world among adults.   After witnessing a series of bullying incidents I wrote this to share with a friend who was hurting:

A Letter to A Bully

You Don’t Know Me

You can judge my words.
You can judge my deeds.
You can attack me if you want
With what you think you know
Of who I’ve been and what I’ve done
Of who I am in my heart.

But you don’t know me.
You cannot really know anyone
With such hate in your heart.
You cannot know anyone
When you are unwilling to listen.
You cannot even know yourself.

So strike out if you must.
I will hurt, but I will heal.
And I will someday forgive.
But remember life is a mirror.
With each blow you cast it cracks,
Distorting your image of yourself.

You don’t know me.
You probably never will.
For I must remind you of your pain.
As you have reminded me of mine.
Yet another layer for me to heal.
A chance to become who I really am.

Kate Nasser prompted me to share this when she announced a special #PeopleSkills Chat on Thursday, April 3rd at 7pm on the subject of Workplace Bullying on Twitter and Google+.  It’s being cohosted by Chantal Berchervaise on Twitter and Dave Moore on Google+.

I’ve been thinking about questions like “How can we tell the difference between bullying and simply bad behavior in the workplace?” and “What can you do if you believe you or someone else is being bullied?”  As a coach, I wonder what can I be listening for and paying attention to so I can more quickly recognize bullying when it is happening.  This inquiry is an important one for everyone in the workplace.

I am looking forward to the chat this week and hope you will join us.  Click Here for more information about the chat and how to participate.

Here’s my question to you:  If you wrote a letter to a bully what would you say?

Image credit: kgtoh / 123RF Stock Photo


Enter A Comment

Robin Smith   |   02 April 2014   |   Reply

Your letter was outstanding. There’s no need to say anything more. Yours said it all.

Susan Mazza   |   02 April 2014   |   Reply

Thank you very much Robin!

skipprichard1   |   03 April 2014   |   Reply

I’m so glad you covered this topic. Bullying is horrible whether on the playground or at the office.

Chery Gegelman   |   05 April 2014   |   Reply


Great post! This part resonated with intense volume! So well said, so hope-filled, so true.

“So strike out if you must.
I will hurt, but I will heal.
And I will someday forgive.”

If I wrote a letter to a buly it would look something like this…

Dear Bully,

I watched you in action today.

I saw you puffing up, raising your voice, and using your size and position to stand over someone, look down at them, make fun of them and intimidate them.

I saw you intentionally antagonizing those around you.

I saw you spreading untruths, planting seeds of doubt and fear, and doing everything you could to divide people so you stay in control.

When I held up the mirror so you could get a glimpse of what you are bringing to others you smashed it to the ground.

…And I wondered:
• What is going on in your head and your heart?
• Why you do what you do?
• Who hurt you?
• Did you made a conscious choice to become a bully?

I know you want to protect yourself and come across as invincible.

But deep inside of your size and your manipulations I see a small child, full of pain and fear.

I wonder if you know that the gifts and strengths you’ve been are buried in the muck of your behavior….

• Although I don’t trust you, I pray for you.
• I hope that one day you find healing, and peace.
• And that your gifts will be magnified.
• And that instead of tearing down you build up – pouring confidence, expectation and hope into the lives you touch.

~ I wish you peace.

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel   |   16 May 2014   |   Reply

Susan, a most heartfelt post. Your poem is really beautiful. You capture the real need of listening to each others stories. I would send your poem to someone who is bullying. It connects me with of one of my favorite quotes from Meg Wheatley. “You don’t fear people whose story you know.”