Be it in the office, in a social setting or in a relationship, at what point is the line crossed when banter turns into bullying?
A common argument against people taking offence when 'banter' becomes too much, is "well if you are going to dish it out, you have to take it". To some extent, what goes around comes around I guess, but there is also the consideration, why was the 'banter' dished out in the first place?
Of course, to counter the 'dishing it out' argument, no-one knows how the recipient will take the 'banter' - not every time. One day, for what ever reason, from the accumulation of what ever troubles they have, they may not be able to take it any longer - then we are into bullying!
Banter is accepted as 'fun' but fun for who? 'I'm only having a laugh' may well be true - but at whose expense? That is the thing - every time we single someone out, perhaps we are trying to make ourselves feel better by putting someone else down.
So, on the assumption that banter makes us feel better about ourselves, could there be any other way to lift our own spirits without projecting humiliation onto others? If not, and we keep dishing out 'banter', eventually something will snap, it escalates from mates just having a laugh (at someone else's expense) to bullying, and as we have seen from our work with some of our clients at Serenity, bullying can lead on to far worse than sending someone home from a bad day, it can lead to them taking their own life.
Del was a case in example, where the constant manner in which he was treated led him to feel bullied at work. Eventually, he could take it no longer, and after suffering at the hands of the bullies, along with PTSD, in August of 2013, he took his own life. At Serenity, we wanted something positive to come from this, and that is what Bandtastic is about (you'll need to click here to read on).
The point with banter leading to bullying, is that we genuinely do not know how the recipient will feel or react. If you are on the receiving end, you don't have to take it, remembering that people will treat you as you allow them to. If you are the one dishing it out, maybe take the time to reflect on why you are doing it - what you actually get out of it, and how that may be achieved in some other way.
Don't let banter turn into tragedy, just imagine how you would feel then!
How do we define and measure bullying? This is the question that continues to plague bullying prevention researchers, policymakers, and advocates alike.