Recognition Gone Bad

Why do we bully others?

Why do some people feel bullied and others just laugh?

What is destructive?

What is constructive?

My girlfriend and I decided to offer entrepreneurship in Drayton valley to our local school students.  We printed flyers and mailed them to every student ‘s home that were between grades 9 and 12.  Junior Achievement offers many financial literacy programs that volunteers teach in schools.  We wanted to teach entrepreneurship so we chose to offer the Junior Achievement Company Program where students learn to start a company, produce a product, take it to market and then wrap up the company all in 17 weeks.  This is a really fun well designed program that is taught to 90,000 students worldwide.  (We can help you start a program in your community)

Things were going pretty well and them wammo…a reported incident of bullying!  Dealing with that was not part of the curriculum.  Being a graduate of 21st Century Leadership, and a graduate of On Course for facilitators and a life long learner I scrambled for a mature way to deal with this without raising defenses and making it personal, seeking to create value for all participants.

So for that evening, we defined BULLYING as “getting your need for recognition met destructively” by making someone else look bad so you could feel better…basically getting your need for recognition met destructively. 

First, we all agreed that at some level we had a need for recognition.

Then we broke into small groups and talked about hurtful or mean things we had done.

We agreed that for the short term we might have felt powerful, but we never did feel very good for very long.

Second we brainstormed a list of several ways we could get our need for recognition met constructively:

1. Be kind to others

2.  Do a favor for others

3.  Just do things that need doing

4.  Volunteer

5.  Teach Sunday School

6.  Babysit for free

7.  Do things without being asked

This is a group of students who are in grades 9-12…their list was lengthy and amazing.

Then we sat each kid up at the front one at a time and got the other kids to say all the nice things they could think about this person and gave each of them their list…this process may be uncomfortable for some…but educate and encourage them to relax and enjoy the recognition and say thank you, not deflect the recognition.

Then they took their list of words and made themselves an affirmation: 

I am a kind, peaceful passionate leader!  I am!

Next…they each read their affirmation out loud.  No comments, no words, 1 person at a time.  When everyone was finished we stood smiling in silence for a minute.  The energy level in the room just kept rising. 

Our final comment was for each person to invest the time in them-selves to get their need for recognition met constructively. ALWAYS.