Presence Is Power

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By The Late Ron Bartlette

Bullying is on the hearts and minds of society as we hear more and more about bullying rearing its ugly head in classrooms, boardrooms, workplaces, and in relationships. How do these bullies get their power? 

Simply put, “we give it to them”. Now my thoughts aren’t 100% foolproof. Yet as a workshop facilitator I’ve seen it in action even in my realm of work. Firstly, a bully is not the muscle bound beef cake looming over a slumping weak-kneed individual who is railing on them. Bullies come in all sizes, packages, cultures, sexes and personalities. Take for example in a workshop where a bully, let’s call them Carl / Carla, is constantly trying to take control of the floor and provide input, their strongly held opinions and beliefs, all to the detriment of the learning process and the other participants. They also like to put down others’ opinions with sarcasm and disapproval.

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Left alone with no intervention, the workshop, training session or meeting will soon be derailed and people will get seriously hurt. We’ve all been there somewhere in our lives. Hopefully it wasn’t in the role of the bully! Now, one truly effective way to bring closure to Carl’s / Carla’s attitude and actions, is called Presence is Power. It’s a truism, bullies feel a sense of invincibility when the facilitator stays far from them i.e. at the front of the room. When the facilitator draws near to the bully physically, it’s amazing how quickly the attitude and verbal barges dissipate rapidly. Bullies shrink when you get close to them. Often a few words or none at all bring about the change. Now let’s move this outside of the classroom environment.

Cyber bullies, because they’re far removed from their victim, are afforded maximum power and low risk of retribution. Bullies in other contexts, very often, will wilt when they are face to face with their intended victim. Draw near and bullies retreat as the cowards they are. Will it happen every time, maybe not, but you’d be surprised how many times it will. What do you have to lose, moreover, how much you have to gain, especially self-respect and confidence.

Picture of The Late Ron Barlette

The Late Ron Barlette

Founder

This year marks the third anniversary of the passing of Ron Bartlette, Executive Director and Founder of the Winnipeg Transition Centre.

Ron was humbled by the opportunities he was given to lead the organization, working with so many passionate, gifted staff and touching the lives of numerous participants.

His legacy and vision continues on through the various programs and services of the Winnipeg Transition Centre, where thousands in Manitoba and across Canada have received support and training and who in turn, will provide inspiration in their communities.

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