Bullying articles normally aim themselves at those being bullied, speak of how it makes them feel, and how they can try and deal.
Well not this one. This one is aimed at the bullies. Whoever we are.
Is it me? Is it you? Is it us?
Just in case - read on!
Clearly none of us like to suffer fools - I mean who does! Fools be fools and we be like "I.don't.suffer."
However, how many of us have you stopped to think that while we're not suffering the fools, the fools are suffering. Suffering us no less.
Fools are everywhere and we count among them - at least at some point in time.
We have all been fools at some point in time. Because we are tired, because we are under pressure, because we don't yet know what we need to know.
But no-one would profess to be a fool by actual choice - especially not professionals like midwives, or professionals on their way like student midwives.
So, when you consider the fool, what do you consider they need from us - the non fools?
Do they need our judgement? Our frowns? Our dismissive scoffing?
Will they benefit from our disdain? Our snipes? Our harsh rebukes?
No, the fool benefits from none of this. And neither do we, or the women that the fools are exposed to.
So, what is the best way to deal with the fools among us?
The best way to deal with the fools among us, is to first and foremost realise that they are not in fact fools, they are people, like me, like you.
They have frailties, gaps in knowledge, nerves, and reactions that are less than optimal.
When we realise that, we realise that the things fools need is the thing we all need, for we are all a fool; what fools need is kindness, generosity, encouragement, and strong, clever direction and mentor-ship.
Forgive the fool, for if I can't - then the fool is me.
Bullying in midwifery is strong despite what we may prefer to think.
It is not a myth - it is a reality.
But how? Why?
I mean come on - we are health care professionals. None of those words corresponds with bully - right?
Well, sometimes we bully others because it reinforces some kind of need in us - the need to be right, the need to feel superior, the need to make sure others know their station. Sometimes we end up bullying slowly but surely, we are all human and things take thier toll - our reactions that start out as small frustrations held close to the chest become overt and one thing leads to another and maybe we forget what we are doing, who we are.
So what do we do that means we are acting like a bully?
If we do any of these things, more than once in a blue sacred moon, we are acting like a bully. If we do it constantly, repeatedly over the years - then we are hardcore.
Withholding information from others
Talking down to others
Making an example of others
Repeatedly criticising others with no offer of help to improve
Shouting at others
Scoffing, snarling, eye rolling
And more - google it - there's plenty out here
Is it a personal preference to be short tempered, dismissive, ignorant and down right mean to others? Is it admissible to call ourselves health care professionals and lay siege on others?
No. It is not.
Whatever we may do in our personal lives, we cannot be bullies in our professional lives.
Our competencies state as much - it is not opt out-able. Ever.
“The midwife upholds professional midwifery standards and uses professional judgment as a reflective and critical practitioner when providing midwifery care.”
4.12 assists and supports student midwives in the development of their midwifery knowledge and skills in clinical settings
4.13 works collegially and communicates effectively with other midwives and health professionals.
If I bully I practice outside our competencies and that is unacceptable.
If we bully we put the safety and sanity of our colleagues at risk, and in doing so we put the safety of those in our care at risk as well. And don't for one minute think that is not so. We can't fool ourselves into thinking that it is not damaging and destructive.
Every time I disrespect our colleagues I am undermining safe and effective midwifery care.
That should be enough to make me think very very carefully about how I behave.
And if that's not enough, we need to think very very carefully about the pain and distress we cause to others when we act in bullish ways.
People get ill when bullied - very ill - physically, mentally, emotionally.
Professional life suffers, personal and family life suffers.
Some never recover.
The stories I have heard of people that have been brought to their knees are numerous (as in weekly at times) and I for one have shed tears of frustration wondering how and why we inflict such immeasurable pain on each other.
Bullying is overt, subtle, accumulative and can happen in an instant.
Either which way we look at it, bullying is insidious and disgraceful.
You'd be right if you're thinking I sound sanctimonious - I do.
But I've had a guts full of seeing good people, strong people, clever and capable people, being torn asunder by mean and pointless jibber-jabber that has NO PLACE in midwifery.
Let's band together and nip this in the proverbial.
Thanks for listening.
And for those I owe an apology for previous foul behaviour... I am sorry ... I am the fool.