My Point of View: Why I Don’t Use the “A-word”

I’m a person who loves peace. I can fight along with the best of them, but I prefer peace. In fact my role in conflict issues over the past 30 years has been as a peacemaker. I empower targets of aggression to find their own voice and stand up for themselves. I help aggressors find a new voice so that they too stand up for themselves, but with a more peaceful and effective voice, rather than that of an aggressor. Many of my colleagues in the field of conflict align with my point of view.

But there are those who use the “A word” and the “F word” and basically use hostile and aggressive language to describe bullying and bullies. I don’t even like to call people bullies. I prefer bullying behaviors.

I prefer bullying behaviors because when we are talking about behaviors, we have something that can change. We can modify behavior. It is harder to think about modifying someone who IS. When you call someone a “bully” or an “A” or whatever, it demonizes the person who is acting out and takes power away from yourself.

So, if you like to use the “A word” to describe someone, then know this:

Applying negative and abusive terms to others allows you to objectify them and treat them differently. That does not improve conflict, it exacerbates it. Using abusive descriptions of others makes you seem shallow and abusive too.

So, I do not see these labels, words, abusive descriptors as helpful. In my experience they keep us from finding effective solutions to conflicts.