If you have ever been bullied before, you may have had the unfortunate experience of telling someone in authority what is happening, only to be told something along the following lines of ‘Oh it is just a personality conflict!’  The few times when I have received such a response I can genuinely say has left me feeling powerless, defenceless as well slightly humiliated for perceivably causing a fuss over nothing.

In actuality though, the person who told you this probably has no idea as to the erroneous misperception they have over the difference between bullying and personality conflict for there is no way that these two are alike.  For one thing, the relationship dynamics in a personality conflict and that in bullying are completely different.

So what are the differences?  Well a personality conflict can best be described as a conflict over opinions, etc, of two equally strong personalities.  In a personality conflict, both sides are willingly getting involved, fighting over their specific opinions, etc, not wanting to surrender or compromise with the other party but are aware that the option of giving in is usually available, at which point the conflict ceases.

Bullying however is completely different in that it usually takes the form of one personality (usually the weaker one) carrying out a campaign of hate and aggression on the stronger personality.  I say the weaker personality is the one doing the attacking for in 99% of cases, when the bullying personality is confronted; its true cowardliness and weaknesses shine through.

It is also worth mentioning that in a bullying scenario, the bullying generally carries on whether the attacked personality decides to defend itself or not; the bullying will carry on even if the target personality wants to call it a day (different from the personality conflict scenario). 

Yet despite these obvious differences, it never ceases to horrify me as to how often those purportedly in authority sweep ones claims of bullying away as mere personality conflict; be it out of ignorance or laziness in wanting to do anything.  If the person in authority happens to have some sort of relationship with the bully as well, there may well be a personal reluctance from that person to want to get involved in the bullying claim; especially if it may harm their relationship with the bully (who wants to be the one to have to punish or discipline a friend)!
a personality conflict

Digressing a bit from the subject, I’d like to quickly mention a case of a friend of mine who was been repeatedly picked on by some yobs in the neighbourhood to which he lived in.  Having given him months of verbal abuse, he decided to go down to the police station to report it.  Yet on speaking to the constable at the front desk, my friend was merely informed that he simply needed to have ‘thicker skin’ and not to ‘take it personally.’  Now when a POLICE OFFICIER is saying this to you, someone who is there to uphold the law, it can make you feel like there is no hope whatsoever.  Unfortunately for my friend, the incidence with the yobs carried on till it one day got physical and then the police took an interest (something which probably could have been avoided had they taken his reports of bullying more seriously).
bullying (note difference from prior picture)

So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you decide to report some bullying to someone in authority, only to be brushed aside with the personality conflict excuse, what should you do?  Well the following 3 steps outline your best course of action

1.       Approach the person in authority again (if need be) and inform them as to why you believe that you are being bullied (instead of it being just a personality conflict) and what you’d like it to be resolved.

2.       Judging by the response of this person, you can decide to let them deal with it or else, if you believe nothing much is going to happen, you can always try speaking to someone else in authority, perhaps someone higher up in the organisation.

3.       If after leaving it to the first contact in authority to do something and then approaching subsequent authorities, nothing still happens, than you are faced with a stark choice, either put up with the bullying (knowing that it is not going to stop) or leave the organisation in question.  Personally I would always recommend the latter option for staying in a place where you are being bullied with no subsequent help certainly won’t do any good for your health, peace of mind, etc.

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of your issues being brushed aside by someone who is meant to help you, remember that just because X said it is a personality conflict, doesn’t actually mean that it is.