How Bullying of a Particular Person Can Become Status Quo and Why You Must Assert Yourself (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1…

If a certain student’s bullying is allowed to continue over a certain amount of time, even for as short as a few weeks, it will likely become the status quo with his/her peers at school. Once it becomes the status quo, it’s virtually impossible to assert your rights without encountering a ton of resistance and reprisals.

The trick is to assert yourself immediately before the bully or bullies grow(s) accustomed to tormenting you because once they do, in most cases, it’s too late. Once it is too late, anytime you are brave and refuse to bow down to a bully, expect retaliation…expect to be severely punished for undermining the bully’s perceived authority or power over you.

This is a warning that you absolutely must heed. Any time one certain student is repeatedly bullied over a certain period of time, it becomes a habit…a ritual for any and everyone at the school.

And when you muster up the spunk to say and/or do anything to assert, defend, or stand up for yourself, you are going against a status quo or perceived norm. And once you dare to go against any status quo, you had better prepare yourself for an all-out war!

You are a target! And bullies see you as anything but. As much as it may suck, when a person becomes a target of bullying, people- bullies, bystanders, and yes, sometimes even teachers and staff, consciously or subconsciously expect the person to stay a target.

They expect you to put your head down and take it…to just accept it, and if you even attempt to grow a spine, they will do everything in their power to break it.

Anytime a person, who has been a target of bullies over a long period of time, takes steps to take back their power, the unspoken message of the bully is this:

“No! Wait a minute! You’ve been a lowlife loser all this time, and NOW you decide to better yourself?” or “Whoa! You’ve been a doormat this long, so why NOW do you get uppity and decide to grow a spine?”

All of which translates to an even deeper message that says:

“Holy Crap! We’re not used to him/her being so outspoken! This scares us! We’ve tried A, now we have to do B, and if B doesn’t work, then we will have to resort to C to put this person back in his/her place and do it quickly before we lose our foothold on her and therefore, lose the benefits that we have enjoyed at her expense!”

This is because bullies are extremely frightened by change, especially a change in the power dynamic which has long been set. They and others want you to stay a victim because “it’s just the way things are done at this school.”.  Also, bullies benefit from your victimization, and they do not want to lose those benefits (social status, gratification, satisfaction, etc.)

Your bullies’ degradation of you has become a habit…a ritual…a tradition, so to speak. And your defending your right to be safe from harm poses the threat of change, and most people cannot easily accept change, bullies especially.

Furthermore, bullies believe that it is their right to abuse their target. Yes! They honestly believe that they have a right to mistreat the person because they assume that they have absolute authority over their victim and are entitled to inflict misery on him/her.

In the mind of a bully, you as the target do not have the right to undermine nor question their perceived authority over you. Others believe that you deserve the ill-treatment and that you owe it to them to put your head down and “just shut up and take it.”

If this does not tick you off enough to make you want to snatch your power back, I do not know what will. But before you can do so, you must know the inner workings of these types of individuals. You must be wise to what it is that makes this type of person tick.

You must get abreast on the psychology of the typical school bully, his/her background, motives, how and why the bully seems to escape accountability and a host of other important and possibly life-saving information.

You absolutely MUST address it early on, as soon as you begin to see a pattern forming. Do not make the same mistake I did and let it get so bad that you either fear for or want to end your own life.

How I wish I knew this back then!

Hate Is Contagious!

It’s one of the reasons bullies are able to unite people who think like they do and win over bystanders and members of authority. It’s the reason why entire schools, workplaces, and communities will repetitiously mob a single targeted person. Understand that hate builds on hate.

Hate also helps to mask the insecurities of each member of the hating group. And all haters have insecurities, but not all insecure people are haters. Bullies know that, outside of a group, they are insignificant, ineffective, and powerless. If you have noticed, and I’m almost certain you have, haters always- always hate in packs.

Bullies are known for inciting others to not only partake in their hatred of the target, but also agree with and condone it. In their shared hatred of a target, each member gets validation and gains a sense of self-worth. The group also helps them to forget all about their insecurities and shortcomings.

Other benefits bullies get from their groups is a feeling of immense power, anonymity, and decreased accountability.

Realize that hate is like an adhesive that binds each member of the bully group together. When a group of bullies verbally attack their target, it enhances each member’s self-image and the overall status of the group.

And once verbal attacks lose their thrill, these bullies will take it up a notch and begin taunting the target by flipping him off, throwing rocks, destroying their property, and other such activities. And once that no longer produces the power high they seek, they will then begin shoving, tripping, pushing, etc. Shoving, pushing and tripping will then escalate to punching, kicking, and beating- then worse, and worse, and worse still.

Understand that hate spreads like a cancer. It’s the root of so many problems today. It’s true that hate hurts the haters more than the hated and that it eats the haters up inside, it can still cause a lot of collateral damage and make life dangerous for the hated if the hated doesn’t learn to recognize it.

If you’re an object of hate, the best you can do is to make yourself a priority. And how you do that is to take steps to protect yourself, take care of yourself, and focus on the people you love and who love you. Stay away for the wrong people and keep yourself around people who uplift you. Stay in a warm and loving environment if possible. You owe it to yourself.

Triumphing Over Workplace Bullying and Mobbing- How I Did It (Part 5)

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(Continued from Part 4…)

Six months after Darnell and I walked away from the workplace cesspool, that was Shady Grove Living Center, the fit finally hit the shan. I was outside walking my dog when a neighbor, who still worked at the nursing home, stopped me to relay some exciting news.

Beau, Harry, and Cammie, better known as “The Thieving Three,” had all been fired from the facility earlier that day- only an hour or two earlier, in fact. The news had traveled that fast!
She told me that the owners of the facility had suddenly shown up and had the three of them escorted off the property. An Acting Administrator took Beau’s place. A temporary Bookkeeper/Payroll Clerk and Head of Maintenance took the positions of Cammie and Harry.

Over the next few weeks, several others were fired as well. The DON (Director of Nursing) was let go after stealing narcotics to feed her addiction to pain pills, as were a few other nurses. The owners also terminated the dietary manager and several CNAs- who had all been loyal flying monkeys to The Thieving Three.

So many got the ax and within such a short amount of time. The owners cleaned that place out. After it was all said and done, I could probably count on one hand the people spared.

It was the buzz around town for well over a month. After they were terminated, Harry and Cammie were so scared and humiliated that they threw everything into two U-hauls and skipped town. Surprisingly, Shady Grove never pressed charges and I was told that it was because the nursing home was afraid that pressing charges might tarnish it’s reputation.

Harry and Cammie moved somewhere around middle, TN, somewhere close to the Tennessee River. Cammie ended up working for the County Medical Center there, in the same position she had at Shady Grove. Later, she committed the same crimes there; only the Medical Center didn’t let it slide as Shady Grove had.

They pressed charges and Cammie was found guilty. The judge sentenced her to three years in state prison but she only served two.

I’ll never forget the tyrannical reign of The Thieving Three over the employees of Shady Grove, and neither will I forget their downfall. This is why I firmly believe that most bullies usually get their just desserts in the end, just as these bullies did.

Sometimes, you must let your bullies do what they do until they get too cocky, too careless, and end up falling on their own swords.

Triumphing Over Workplace Bullying and Mobbing- How I Did It (Part 4)

(Continued from Part 3…)

I remember a night when one of the flying monkeys, Shelly, a CNA, approached me in the hall, from behind and began screaming, cursing, and threatening to jump me over a rumor that had it that I was stabbing her in the back.

She threatened to attack me there on the spot physically, and there were bystanders!
When I turned around, faced her, and called her out for being unprofessional, Shelly became twice as angry.

Later, I was afraid that I might face termination because Shelly had escalated the confrontation to an unprecedented level. Also, I’d seen so many others whom these people had pulled the same tactic on getting fired left and right!

I remember thinking,

“Well, if I do get canned, they won’t be able to say they didn’t have to work hard at achieving that goal! At the very least, I’ll leave here knowing I put up one hell of a fight!”

One of the bystanders was Deb, the charge nurse, and Shelly’s supervisor and buddy. Therefore, I knew that Deb would sweep Shelly’s behavior under the rug and paint me as the instigator.

Sure enough, she did. These people had a way of turning everything around to fit their narrative and getting others to agree with it.

The other guy was always to blame.
It was always the other guy’s fault.
It was never their fault, and they were never wrong.

They reported the incident to Darnell and suggested that he terminate me right then and there. When he talked to me about it, I calmly explained that Shelly had approached me from behind in a very threatening manner, that I feared for my physical safety, and didn’t know what she would do had I not faced her down.

And by this time, I’d worked under Darnell long enough that he knew the kind of person I was and that I was only taking care of myself.

A crowd of people surrounded the red man. Accusation of crime, mob law over a person, lynch court. The leader in the center of the crowd, the leader, an example for diving. Angry crowd

So, again, Darnell had my back and went to bat for me. Also, I had made an awesome friend out of Jane, who was another charge nurse at the nursing home. She, too, went to bat for me as did several of my coworkers.

Each time nothing happened to me, the bullies only became angrier and crazier, until they were all out for blood!

It was then that I starting noticing Jules hovering around in the hall just outside the door to the laundry room. Later, I’d see him milling around nearby anytime I’d stop in the hallway to greet and talk to friends. And I’ve got to tell you! He gave me such a creepy vibe!

Next, I began seeing him standing across the street from my apartment, smoking a cigarette. And I could tell he was watching my apartment. Now that freaked me out!

I found out that he and the neighbor across the street had begun dating and that he was there to see her. She didn’t allow smoking in her house, so he had no choice but to smoke outside. Still, I didn’t feel any better. I felt as if I was being stalked!

I knew why he was hanging around so close. Jules was an eavesdropper for Cammie and her group, listening in on our convos in the laundry room and my discussions with friends in the hallway. Everybody knew it because he’d eavesdropped on many others.

My instinct also told me they’d enlisted him to watch my house. He was watching to see what company I had over- looking for any information with which to report back to Cammie.

The fact that Jules’ girlfriend lived across the street from me was a convenient cover for him and they knew it. Although I knew what was going on, I didn’t speak of it because I knew I couldn’t without sounding completely nuts. I did the best thing by keeping it to myself but filing it in the back of my mind. The only people I told were my closest family and they knew I wasn’t kidding.

Luckily, his girlfriend was a good friend of mine and I knew she only kept him around because she was lonely. So, I used it to my advantage, and cozied up to her a little bit more so she would volunteer to tell me little tidbits about what he was doing. Sure enough, she confirmed my suspicions.

Not much later, Darnell, having himself become a target of the vitriol that inflected the workplace, announced to us that he had put in his two-week notice of resignation and was moving on to a better job and a better work environment.

Although we were happy that he’d finally found something better and was getting out of that hellhole, we were also deeply saddened because we’d miss him so much. We saw Darnell as our fearless leader, our Captain Ahab, and our hero!

What kind of leader would the new supervisor be? And would they protect us from those devils down the hall as Darnell had?

Choosing not to leave anything to chance, I decided that I’d put in my notice as well. Being the type of woman who would always think ahead, I knew that once Darnell was gone, I’d be totally at their mercy. I had a sickening feeling that the next supervisor would toady up to the bullies in the upper echelons of management and the social order.

Strict Boss: Angry upset young business woman with blank speech bubble on white on gray background. Vector illustration.

I knew that Cammie had long waited, with bated breath, for the day when Darnell would either quit or get fired. Then, she could begin working on the new supervisor, ingratiate herself in them, and turn them against us.

Sure enough, my closest coworker told me she’d overheard Cammie saying precisely that, and she was recommending that the new supervisor terminate three of us. Knowing I was one of the three, I quickly filled out my two weeks notice of resignation and gave it to Darnell.

Darnell introduced us to the new supervisor. She was a short, dumpy woman in her forties and by her facial expression, which was hard and cold, I made the conclusion that putting in my notice was the smartest thing to do and gave myself a pat on the back.

Off and on during the last two weeks, I’d catch those tiny micro flashes of suspicion and contempt the new supervisor would flash toward me and a few others. And the bullies were completely enraged once word of my pending exit reached their ears. But once I was out of there, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I was quite proud of myself for having escaped that toxic place and walked away from the job with confidence and my self-esteem still intact.

But the best and juiciest part is yet to be told!

(Continued in Part 5…)

Triumphing Over Workplace Bullying and Mobbing- How I Did It (Part 2)

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(Continued from Part 1…)

In the last post, I talked about how everything started out great and that I was well-liked by almost everyone. I also mentioned the incident when I responded in kind after Candi, a CNA, caught a bad attitude. Needless to say, I found out that, right or wrong, talking down to her was a no-no because she had connections.

And over several months, one by one, many people turned against me. Luckily, several of my real friends knew how Candi was and had no respect for her. They were the people who had my back, so I can say that I did have allies who took care of me.

However, there was a clear division at Shady Grove Living Center. There was the administrator, who I’ll call *Beau, *Cammie, the payroll clerk, the department heads,*Harry (who was Cammie’s husband), one maintenance guy, whose name was *Jules, and two CNAs, *Shelly was one and *Cheryl who were two flying monkeys. On our side were my supervisor Darnell, all of my coworkers (except for one suck up), a charge nurse, and the rest of the CNAs who had my back.

At first, the bullies made false reports about me to Darnell. On the days after my shift (I worked part-time in the evening), the third shift CNAs would complain that I hadn’t stocked the linen closets on each of the halls and that they had no clean bed pads, bedsheets, nor gowns for the residents who soiled their beds during the night.

But because I always thought ahead and could easily predict what these people would do, I had made sure to pull out my cellphone and take pictures of all my finished work at the end of my shift.

Once I was done stocking the linen closets, I took photos of all the  shelves inside, chock full of freshly clean linens. I then took pictures inside all the empty barrels that were marked “dirty laundry,” before clocking out and going home. And, with the time-stamps on each image, there was no question I’d done my job.

I took pictures every night, at the end of the shift. And I had proof to show Darnell every time they lied.

When that didn’t work, the bullies only turned up the harassment, as word quickly spread throughout the nursing home that I’d taken pictures of all finished work.

In a way, it was funny because each of the linen closets was directly across from a nurse’s desk, where the bullies would sit around and gossip. And I remember overhearing them make snide remarks about my camera and my taking pictures, to which I’d only snicker and chuckle to myself.

Harry, the head of maintenance, would talk pretty ugly to me, but I knew I wasn’t the only one because many times, I’d see him talk terrible to several others- even a few who worked for the nursing home. So, I didn’t feel like the Lone Ranger.

And because I’d already been a target of bullying in school, I knew what to expect as all bullies pull pretty much the same tactics, only adult bullies are much more sophisticated with it. Therefore, I was able to prepare, stay a few steps ahead, and outflank them.

During this time, I began to witness a couple of the bullies in this workplace clique commit a few illegal activities. On one instance, I worked a double shift to cover for a coworker who was sick.

Early one Saturday morning, I saw with my own eyes Harry walk into the back door of the nursing home, dressed in camouflage and his bright orange hunting vest. He crept down the hall past the laundry room, then stopped at the time clock and clocked in. Harry then filled out a bogus work order, then left.

He didn’t return until late that evening to clock out and leave again. I’ll never forget the look on his mug when he saw me sitting outside on my last break as he drove by in his shiny new pickup. And when I told a trusted friend at work a day or two later about what I’d seen, she wasn’t at all surprised.

“Girl! He’s been clocking out and going home on the weekends since I’ve been here! And I’ll tell you something else,” *Brenda told me, “Cammie’s been embezzling from this facility, and she’s been ripping off some of the residents who don’t have families- weaseling them into signing papers to leave their assets to her when they leave this world!”

I felt my eyes pop out of my head as Brenda gave me an ear full!

(Continued in Part 3…)

Triumphing Over Workplace Bullying and Mobbing- How I Did It (Part 1)

Before I go into the story, I want to tell you that very few people ever come out the winner if they’re a target of bullying in the workplace. I say this because when I worked in the toxic and poisonous environment, I’m about to tell you of, I saw so many people who fell victim.

Droves of innocent workers ended up losing their jobs and some, their careers because of the evil actions of a clique of psychopaths who were handed power they had no business having.

These employees were the best and the kindest people, and my heart broke for them. It still does when I think back.

In late 2007, I began working for a sanitation company that contracted with *Shady Grove Living Center in Oakley. My supervisor, *Darnell, and my coworkers were the best. Sure, we had our disagreements and our spats. Still, I could never have dreamed of working with a better supervisor and team. And on many occasions, we’d have so much fun together!

Another great thing was that we didn’t work for the nursing home, only for a separate company contracted with them. So, in reality, no one at the nursing home had any power over us, though they loved to think they did.

I was already well aware that the site was very toxic, but I always stood back and observed the people and the goings-on around me. And during my first week of employment there, it didn’t take long to figure out who the troublemakers were.

I made sure to avoid the drama queens, the gossips, and the bullies and went on with my business. Another beauty was that there was a long corridor between the actual nursing facility and the sanitation area, so we didn’t have to work with them nor be around them much at all.

The only time I saw any of them was toward the end of the shift when I’d roll the laundry cart full of clean linens down to the main building to stock the linen closets.

Therefore, for the first year and three months, everything went smoothly, and no one bothered me. I got along with everyone and was seemingly well-liked. That is until I put one snarky CNA in her place for trying to be a smart alick.

This CNA, whom we’ll call, *Candi, had it in her mind that those who worked in the laundry department, were beneath her and expected them to carry hers and everyone else’s water. Although the CNAs didn’t make any more than we did, Candi and a few others had no regard for us. They didn’t see us as human beings because we worked in sanitation.

After I schooled her, Candi felt anger and indignation. So, she stormed away and cried to her buddies in the nursing home clique. She couldn’t stand that I’d smart-mouthed her, and “how dare” I talk to her like that. Oh! “The nerve of” me!

And she took the rest of the day off as a stress leave because she was so upset. And I knew why she was so peeved. She was the type who couldn’t handle being told a thing or two by someone she deemed inferior.

It’s hilarious when I think of it! But that’s when the bullying began.

(More in Part 2…)

* Not the real name of the person or entity.

Chronic Bullying is Mobbing

Bullying becomes Chronic when the bullying has gone on over time and has escalated such that it has now reached a dangerous level. In short, bullying has reached epic proportions.

When there’s Chronic Bullying, bullies have grown so comfortable with bullying the target that they skyrocket the torment and pursue their targets obsessively and non-stop. Where there’s Chronic Bullying, there’s no accountability. And where there’s no accountability, there’s simply no incentive to stop.

In the case of Chronic Bullying, the bullies’ behavior has gone ignored and unaddressed by an authority. The bullies have become so brazen, cocky, and encouraged that their actions have grown in strength, frequency, and cruelty over several years.

The bullies’ apathy toward the victim grows to a point where they lose all empathy and come to feel nothing but blind hatred and fury toward the target. The attitude has now become that anything they do to the victim, no matter how cruel or dangerous, is good because, to the bullies, the victim has no value, and his life is worth nothing.

People who bully to these extremes usually have followers and minions backing them up. And they enlist members of their following to do their dirty work. The bullying becomes so significant, so ingrained, and so severe that it seemingly takes on a life of its own.

The bullies are seemingly drunk on their own power and their hatred that the bullying and torment of you seem to be all the bullies can focus on.

Instead of the bullies controlling their evil emotions and actions, their feelings and actions begin to control them! The bullies are controlled by hatred and blinded by senseless rage. They have become so addicted to the power and control over another human being that the bullying becomes constant for the bullies to get their fix and maintain the high that the power over the target gives them.

Understand that when bullying becomes chronic, bullies don’t see the target as a human being; they see him as so worthless and inferior that, in their minds, the target doesn’t deserve the time of day, much less any respect. As far as the bullies are concerned, the target doesn’t even deserve to breathe the same air as them! Even worse- the target doesn’t deserve to breathe, period!

This is why chronic bullying can be especially dangerous to the target because the victim runs the chance of either breaking and committing suicide or being murdered by their bullies.

This is why it’s so important to get out anytime bullying becomes chronic. Get out of that environment- transfer to another school, go to work for another company, or move to another area.

Again, because once bullying becomes chronic, it becomes so out of control that it takes on a life all it’s own. There’s no stopping it at this stage.

The only way you’ll ever find peace is to leave without telling anyone. Only then will you be safe and have peace of mind.

Why Bullies Crave Power (And Can’t Get Enough of It)

Simple. Because it feels good.

“Power is not what you have. It’s what the enemy thinks you have.”  ~ Saul D. Alinsky (Rules for Radicals)

Bullies crave power like a fat kid craves McDonald’s Big Macs. Power tastes delicious. Understand that most bullies attack in groups, or more appropriately, mobs. Being in a mob gives people tremendous power and bullies know it.

Power feels good because it can get people prestige, street cred, notoriety, and popularity. Power has a way of cushioning the ego, and as we already know, most bullies have meaningless lives outside of the mob and bullying environment (school, work, community, etc.). So, the power they get from being a part of a mob adds “meaning” to their lives that they could never get by any other means. Power is what gives bullies a cause and a purpose in life.

Group power is even better! Because in a mob, each individual can bully a target, lose themselves in the bullying, and get a degree of anonymity. Therefore, bullies are much safer in the group. The group shields each bully from taking any responsibility for their appalling behavior. Groups provide protection from exposure and personal consequences.

So, how do you fight back against a mob?

One way is to call out one or two of their members by their names and tell them to “get a grip,” “knock it off,” or “calm down.”

I recently read this in a book about survival and it makes perfect sense. Anytime you call out a few members of a mob by their names, it brings them back to themselves by personalizing them. What you’re doing is basically, separating them from the mob when you loudly call out their name.

How I wish I’d known this earlier in life.

Why Bullies Need a Hated Enemy to Be Against

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In Robert Greene’s book entitled, “The Laws of Human Nature,” I once read that everyone needs a hated enemy and that there’s a positive side to having one. I’ve found that with packs of bullies, this is true.

Bullies in groups need an enemy, whether real or imagined, that they can band together and fight against- an “us-versus-them” object. Why? Because the presence of an enemy has always served to strengthen group cohesion and unite and tighten members. Groups reflexively focus on their hated target as a means of bringing it together as one and for further solidarity.

And if they can get any member of the authority and with a little power (teacher, principal, supervisor, manager or HR) to join in the hatred, all the better to ensure that the group align themselves to one another and oust the “enemy.”

Not even love, respect, or friendship unite people as much as the shared hatred of something or someone. Remember that there’s strength in numbers, and bullies must always have an entourage around them. You will never see a bully alone because the thought of being on their own scares them to death. And the stronger the solidarity, the less likely it is of the group disbanding. Hatred is the glue that binds the members together.

The victim provides the bullies the assurance that their group always stays together as one. Without the victim, the group is weak; things get boring real fast, and it won’t be long before they split up and go their separate ways.

Bullies also need victims for entertainment and as victory trophies to collect and display. They need victims as guinea pigs to test their (perceived) strength and power and then show proof thereof to bystanders and witnesses.

Therefore, the target serves many purposes. And once they’ve served their purpose, they’re neatly and quietly disposed of, and a new victim is selected.

Always remember this. The more we know about bullies’ inner workings, the better we can defend ourselves against them.

When Bullying Becomes Mobbing: Detailed Steps Bullies Take to Destroy You

Mobbing is THE severest form of bullying. Once the bullying reaches the stage of mobbing, this is when the bullying becomes life-threatening! And if you’ve ever been a target of it, you know firsthand how destructive it is.

The reasons that mobbing is so hard to remedy is because not only has it already rendered us so distraught that we’re unable to think clearly, but we aren’t able to name, describe, nor communicate the steps bullies take to destroy us.

A successful smear campaign is started by a bully or bullies who are well-practiced in the arts of persuasion and influence and can last for years.

Here’s something I want you to realize. A smear campaign is nowhere near as tricky as it looks. You’d be amazed at just how simple it is to smear someone. It’s so easy that it shouldn’t be so effective, but it is!

To quote the old Geico commercial, it’s “so easy; a caveman can do it.”

Here’s a chronological, step-by-step recap of how bullies do it and succeed at it:

1. The bullies have a dislike for a specific individual who refuses to conform to their standard of who she should be.

Now all this time, the bullies have been able to influence everyone else and get them to submit to their will and every whim. Then, low and behold, along comes the target (we’ll call her “Cindy”) who’s stubborn and either unable to or won’t submit to the bullies’ control and allow them to change her personality into what they think it should be.

And Cindy may not realize the bullies’ motives and that just by being herself and doing her thing, she’s enraging the bullies. So, she goes on about her business, makes plans for her future, makes achievement after achievement, and maybe she gets loads of positive attention and praise from others because she’s so successful and well-liked.

2. Next, the bullies begin to smear Cindy. To implement their smear campaign, they watch Cindy, studying her behavior carefully until they’re able to anticipate her reactions.

3. The bullies then train their audience (i.e., the other classmates or coworkers to expect a specific type of behavior out of Cindy. They point out these behaviors when they occur. The bullies then associate Cindy’s completely innocent behavior with something bad or evil.

For example, let’s say that Cindy is sweet, playful, and likes to engage in a little banter. The bullies watch as Cindy banters with people in the school or workplace. She playfully calls someone a “dummy” or a “goofball,” but others know that it’s all for harmless jokes and think it’s funny because Cindy is a genuinely kind person.

4. So, the bullies begin making offhand comments. They remark that Cindy’s kindness is only an attempt to kiss ass because she wants something from people and that she thinks the people around her really are dummies, but only disguises it under a veil of fun jokes and playfulness.

The bullies also make statements that Cindy thinks she’s cute and that Cindy thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. Then repeat, repeat, repeat!

To quote a propaganda minister to a well-known dictator in history, “Tell a lie once, and it remains a lie. Tell a lie a thousand times, and it becomes the truth.”

5. The next time others see Cindy being kind to and playfully bantering with someone, she doesn’t look so cute, and the banter isn’t so funny anymore. Now people see a side of Cindy they can’t believe they never noticed before.

6. Now feeling smug with gratification, the bullies look at themselves, then at Cindy with smirks on their crooked faces and try the same thing all over again.

7. And before you know it, everyone wonders what they ever saw in Cindy, to begin with, and begins to have negative feelings toward the poor girl.

8. Cindy begins to pick up on the negative vibes around her and withdraws a little. She doesn’t speak to people as much as she did and doesn’t understand what she did or said to bring it all about. The bullies notice that Cindy is more distant than usual, and they point this out to everyone.

“Hey, look! Do you see that? Now, what did we tell you? Cindy really does think we’re all dummies! She really does think she’s smarter than the rest of us!”

“And her ass-kissing (Cindy’s sweet disposition) didn’t work, so now she’s too good to speak to anyone!”

9. Cindy’s withdrawal only inflames everyone’s feelings of dislike and resentment. Although her becoming distant is only out of self-protection, others mistake it for smugness and arrogance.

10. And it only snowballs from there, getting worse and worse over time. Understand that people are human, and they make mistakes. They misjudge innocent others all the time.

And when bullies condition the whole of a group, school, organization, workplace, or community to see any quality in a particular person as a bad thing, a smear campaign is most effective. So everyone, even those who aren’t bullies and are otherwise kind and compassionate, can become extremely cold and cruel to a target. And everyone repeats the same cruelty, over and over again.

Understand that smear campaigns are just too effective because they can quickly become bullying, then escalate to mobbing, which is the most severe kind of bullying. And once it increases to mobbing, it’s unstoppable, and the only way you can take your life back is to leave that toxic, poisonous environment altogether.