There are certain terms which appear to be taking over in our lives. Terms like health and safety, human rights and bullying. Bullying is one of the worst things in life both for children and for adults, but particularly for vulnerable people. Nevertheless it surprises me that such complaints would come from the Prime Minister’s office, not a place I associate with vulnerable people.
Bullying cannot be condoned at any level, but the atmosphere in the PM’s office cannot, in my vivid imagination, be for the faint hearted. Being a keen follower of ‘Yes Minister’ I believe I have some insight. This must be especially true in the months before an election of a weak and unpopular PM who is probably a very decent and kind person behind the rather dour public veneer we see. Of course it is the public persona we elect so giving him a veneer of bullying must be very nice for the opposition – especially after the efforts made to make him look human.
Let us get back to the faint hearted and what may happen in the PM’s office, but equally what happens in many Enterprise Britain offices around the country. The pressure is high and tempers get shorter. Things are said and done which one would not say or do in ordinary circumstances. So you surround yourself with people who can help you pull through these tense situations. Personally I hope I have ever bullied anyone, and if I have, please accept my most humble apologies, but I am sure my patience has been shorter at times than I would have liked it to be. When patience withers, the ability to listen withers with it, so self control does help.
I have been on the receiving end of the wrath of entrepreneurs, colleagues and bosses to the point of threatening or telling me with some rather rude emphasis to get out. I even have an email to that effect from one entrepreneur. In all cases the threatener or screamer and even the email writer got over it.
Did they apologise? Not that I can remember. Do I hold it against them? No.
The situation was tense and they did not seem to like what I was telling them or what I had done – such lack of appreciation! What really made them angry was when they knew I was right, so the frustration went through the roof. The good news is that I never fell out with any of them in the long run.
The key is that if you place yourself in these high powered situations, you have a right to expect to be treated with respect, but you also need to anticipate that everyone is human and may lose control. That does not make them bad at their job and often it helps clear the air and help build a stronger longer term relationship.
Violence is a different subject – anyone tries to hit me and I am out of there, never to be seen again. It has not happened to date.
I do not condone bullying and hope nobody ever accuses me of doing it, but equally I find it difficult to comprehend that people working with the PM would need to run to a charity to say they are being bullied or even try to sell a book on the accusation.
And David – do we really need to spend millions of our tax money on an investigation? As the Americans say, “if you can’t fly with the eagles, get out of the sky” – and frankly, I have a hard time imagining any of the current pack flying at all without the aid of an airplane.