Sutton gives an example of Ruth who imagines herself floating through the rapids and while sitting with her demeaning colleagues, their opinions did not touch her or her soul (136).
Is this something that is possible? If so, has anyone done this successfully and how so? Can this successfully be taught to those who have to perpetually put up with these jerks and/or bullying?
Well, while I understand that some people really are stuck in jobs where they are surrounded by jerks, I think that the 'floating through the rapids' is a very passive way of 'surviving' such a job. I also agree with Jeff where he asked if putting exlax into chocolates was all that Sutton could give us to get revenge. He then went on to say that revenge isn't something we shouldn't be looking for and I completely agree, especially in conflict mediation - since revenge just aggravates the conflict. I think it's about justice and equality.
Learning to 'block out or be indifferent to' demeaning jerks I think is only the first step to how you can handle or tackle jerks in your profession. Sutton then talks about looking for friends and little victories. Again, it's sound advice but even this must be exhausting and sometimes frustrating and completely unproductive while you are at work and shouldn't have to concentrate on these things but on what you're supposed to be doing. I think this part of the book is lacking in a more emphatic take on being against and tackling jerks, talented or not, in power or not.
I therefore think that it should be a fight for justice - being open about how jerks make you feel or what they are doing to others in a calm manner and talking to them and to their superiors if possible I think might be a better, more direct, swifter way to tackle the problem. Standing up for yourself might mean you recieve a backlask at first, but perhaps your strength and courage may show the bully that he can't intimidate you and most bully's i've encountered usually leave you alone once you have called them up on their behaviour. You can't fire something for sharing an opinion, and if this were to happen, its illegal and perfectly 'reportable'. We should be encouraged not to be afraid of these jerks, they are, after all, just people that may have even more insecurities than the victims they terrorise.
I also think that the key is the victims first reaction to the first time they are being bullied or demeaned. If the jerk sees he can get away with it right from the start, all he will do is keep taking it to the next level. If the victim shows strength and can't be intimidated from the start, then perhaps the jerk will think twice before he tries to push that person around again.
I have encountered many certified jerks in my life (as most of us will have) and one in particular, when I was only about 17 and working in a restaurant and she was an assistant manager. When I started I was the butt of all her not so nice jokes and she bossed me around way more than anyone else did until two weeks later I had had enough and I answered her back in front of the rest of the staff. She never bothered me again and even began to be friendly with my by the end of the year. People like that push and push to see how far they can go. The idea is not to let them from the word go. This is a learning curve especially for people with more delicate personalities who go out of their way to please people. I admit that when I was young I was like this, too much in fact, that I was pretty much a push over and had a 'friend' who psychologically bullied me for three years at high school by emotionally blackmailing me into coming to her house and doing what she wanted, getting angry at me for ridiculous reasons and constantly making me feel guilty until one day with one particularly nasty incident I snapped and answered her back over the phone and she never spoke to me again all through our last year at high school. I remember feeling physically sick anytime she was around and now when I look back I think how ridiculous it was that I could ever let anyone treat me so badly. So when I encountered the assistant manager at the restaurant, even though she wasn't as much of a (and I would say bitch here), I just wasn't prepared to put up with any crap from anyone. This fight starts with each individual internally and it's up to each person to learn how to see through bullies and how to react so that you aren't the ones wrongly feeling bad or guilty.