Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fear Is Pent-Up Energy, So Use It

Several years ago, my university speech professor told me that the feelings we experience before presenting a speech—the knot in the stomach, shaky hands, and pounding heart—are no more than pent-up energy. Adrenaline floods the blood stream for fight or flight. Fight or flight implies action. We must take physical action to reduce the adrenaline and reduce the fear.

The targets of Bad Apples experience the same physical sensations when they think about meeting up with their tormentors. Consuming pent-up energy with physical activity just before seeing the Bad Apple will help a little, activity such as briskly walking from the back of the parking lot to the office building, squeezing your hands together as hard as possible, shaking your head and neck vigorously to relieve the strain, or slipping into the rest room and jumping up and down several times. These actions may seem silly, but they do help.

However, activities that help targets gain control have the longest lasting effect. One of these is self-education on bullying, bullies, and their targets. The more people understand, the harder it is to put them down. The second most important activity concerns staying connected. Bad Apples, especially bullies, try to isolate their targets, to cut them off from communication with and support of peers and superiors. It is crucial that targets talk with other employees, family, and friends about what is happening and feel assured of their support. Then they are empowered to take action and take control.

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