Life could be so simple.
The world. Your world, could be so peaceful.
We are at a pivotal point in history, just as we have been many times before.
The persecution of entire nations and religious faiths. They all started small – with one weird action, or sentence, an over the top statement that people around them didn’t agree with – but they did nothing – they enabled it!
These men and women didn’t do what they did because they were powerful. They did what they did because they were enabled to. No one questioned them or stopped them.
Imagine a different outcome if enough people around them had used compassionate assertiveness and asked a question like “How is that reasonable?” “Can you see how crazy that sounds?” “What do you see the effect being on the people you are doing this to? In the long-term future of a nation, a religion, humanity?” Could these horrific things have happened in history then?
I’ve just finished watching the series Salvation on Netflix. I’m a sucker for a disaster movie, ever since I first watched Armageddon with Bruce Willis. There’s a predictable tale in most of them, but invariably it happens somewhere in the plot that someone has a better idea or doesn’t agree on the decision made to save the world – and has the balls to speak up and voice it. From then on, the outcome usually changes.
The premise of Salvation is familiar as a plot – the world is ending in 150 days due to a gigantic asteroid. One or two people have the answer pretty much from episode 1 or 2, but due to A.P.E (assumption, perception and ego), it takes until episode 13 to get anywhere. These pivotal moments in time are always hindered by A.P.E just as the disasters in your life and business commonly are.
Someone assumes something instead of checking. Someone’s perception of something is different, and instead of seeking a win-win they go with their own perception, because they’ve been trained and conditioned to do that growing up. People fold or concede to their environment when surrounded by the most powerful influence or the loudest voice. Or, ego gets the better of them.
This is no different to the monsters in humanity that have shaped the human race and the population of their time. All it took was one crazy statement from a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath (around 3% of society) and an enabler (or many enablers) to allow it to happen.
I’m not saying that you have a 3% er in your life, but statistics would tell us that at some point in time many of us have lived with one, worked with or for one, or we have grown one. At the very least you could have an aggressive or passive aggressive person in your life. These people if left unchecked, un-challenged ride rough shod over everyone in their path. Or in the case of a narcissist, they often alienate or find a perfect victim in just one person.
If you are thinking you are safe because you have a ‘strong’ personality. You are assertive. You are an extrovert, then think again. There is no challenge in a narcissist breaking a passive person, they don’t go for them. They go for people who are widely perceived as strong in character….and then systematically, and deliberately chip away at them until they are broken. It is insidious. It is unexpected. It begins with that first ping that is not dealt with!
The POI (point of impact) in any ping is no less impactful than an asteroid hitting the earth. The hit creates a chain reaction that destroys everything in its path and creates a ripple in the future.
In every single ping, the moment you feel it and name the emotion – fear, disbelief, anger, resentment, and do nothing about it, you have from that point on accepted it, condoned it, enabled it and likely taken step one to becoming a victim of a bully, agreed to something that didn’t sit well with you, or created a ‘new normal’ that is now part of your life and you have to live with.
This chain of events you have now invited in willingly, by default makes it just that little bit harder to ever say something again in the future about the same ping/topic. Even more difficult to say something next time that same person pings you in the same (or a different) situation, because you accepted it and invited it in the first time.
Just like the scientists dragged from all over the world and the most unlikely places in disaster movies, I believe I’ve had the answer for quite some time now – since I made the jump from dealing with a few hundred people, to a few thousand, from a few workplaces to hundreds.
The answer to fair, emotionally safe and harmonious workplaces.
The answer to stopping bullying – in the playground, in homes, and in workplaces.
Don’t let the ping get past the first ping without saying or doing something. If you ‘see it, (or hear it), then say it!
It REALLY is that simple.
With no inviting in and acceptance of a bully’s words, the second time never happens! If, instead of looking away, retreating, or licking your wounds you looked them in the eye and said:
“Can you see how unreasonable that is?”
“Why do you think that is an appropriate course of action (name)?”
“Why are you being mean?”
“Why would you say that?”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Can you hear how weird that sounds?”
“How do you think that will affect me/others?”
No matter how scary.
You may only have to deal with it once, and then it never happens again?
Fear can be debilitating. Fear can be polarising. Or…fear can be energising. Once you’ve experienced the feeling of ‘see it, say it’ where you need to, you’ll never look back.
One moment of fear, not met head on in the face of a serious ping that questions your judgement, affects your personal, cultural rights or dignity, can affect your life for the lifespan of that relationship – whether that be personal or at work. What you invite in at some point, you may be living with for a long time.
A question I’ve been asked at least once a year since I’ve been on this journey of compassionate assertiveness is this one:
“Do you think Hitler could have been stopped if he’d had compassionately assertive people around him?” My answer is always the same. 100% YES! If his role models growing up had been different? People who knew him had challenged him as he rose up the ranks.
If the first person in that initial outrageous comment he made as a leader had challenged him, it could have been different.
“Can you hear what you just said? Does that seem reasonable? That’s madness.
In the end (or the beginning to be more precise), in those early days of Hitler – whomever listened and did nothing, said nothing, started a chain reaction that changed a whole race of people, the world, and the collective consciousness of humanity forever. Without enablers or ‘kitten feeders’, it is unlikely that Hitler could have done what he did. Without kitten feeders’ workplace/domestic bullies cannot exist, passive aggressive people cannot exist, people who undermine you cannot exist.
In all of these disaster movies it takes way too long for some bright spark to realise that nuking it won’t always work, all that does is deflect the massive rock, splitting it into pieces which causes even more damage.
The answer is normally found by drilling down into the massive rock, to get a deeper impact, or to direct it away from other humans by using a tractor beam or a magnetic force with gigantic pull.
Are you seeing the analogy yet? Bombarding things that are bigger and stronger than you with aggression rarely works. Drilling down to their core, taking away their power or directing it away from the masses does work.
ALL it takes ultimately is ONE person. The FIRST person to hear it or see it. The FIRST moment it happens, was said, was done.
When YOU step up and do something, step out of the passive, step away from the “Why should I?” and into the “How can I not?”, then you step into the part you play in humanity.
One drop can make a difference in the collective consciousness.
One person can make a difference.
Is that person you this year?
Don’t invite it in.
Don’t accept it.
Don’t condone it.
Don’t look away. Look it in the eye.
Save someone else.
Save yourself first.