In last week’s post Bullying Over-defined, I wrote about calling 911 for something that wasn’t emergency-related and I questioned the idea that the word “bully” is over-used. Perhaps I can provide a breakdown of the example and explain it further.

In the BurgerKing 911 call example:bullying defined

  1. Entity A experiences wrong-doing from entity B
  2. Entity A stands up for herself and requests the wrong-doing be corrected
  3. Entity B either repeats the wrong-doing or ignores the request
  4. Entity A feels frustrated that resolution is not achieved and seeks help from someone in authority
  5. Someone in authority states that the wrong-doing isn’t severe enough to involve them.

I would say that the above breakdown represents a “crying wolf” example that was condemned when Ross Ellis wrote Overuse of the word “Bully”

By definition, In order for the above breakdown to be considered bullying, you would need aggressive intent. Intent is difficult to prove and so I assume that the severity of the wrong-doing is used as a measurement instead. I can imagine that people in positions of authority can get annoyed if they field numerous complaints of incidents of low-severity.

However, I caution that sensitivity needs to be maintained. The person will feel frustrated if a resolution cannot be reached with the help from a person in authority and may lose confidence in seeking help altogether even if the severity increases.

Other options are available with varying success, as related in the informal poll:

  • coping/dealing with the situation
  • seeking a different authority
  • renegotiating for a resolution in a different environment
  • ignoring and going elsewhere
  • continuing to stand-up for yourself

In the BurgerKing 911 call, the person chose to call 911 because she was unwilling to sacrifice. She was unwilling to accept the incorrect burger as it was made for her, unwilling to park and take the time to renegotiate, unwilling to take her money back and start again elsewhere and she didn’t want to wait anymore. As much as I admire her willingness to stand up for her principles, she needed to be willing to give in somewhere.