NEW DELHI: Let’s face it… Our politicians are famous for making headlines for all the wrong reasons… And only on that rare occasion, which happens once in a blue moon for the right cause.

Power is abused, probably a million times a day, the world over but unfortunately our Indian politicians are known for misusing this power to the maximum and for corruption at all levels. A government is corrupted whenever it is diverted from its avowed purpose and directed toward some other goal, especially goals that conflict with its purpose. Misuse of the powers of government is widespread at every level of the government.

There will be times when you need to address their challenging behaviour within the political groups and their interactions with citizens. This might involve conflict between people or confrontation with leaders or those in authority. Whatever the circumstances conflict situations generate strong emotional feelings. Challenging behaviour is provocative, threatening and/or disturbing. This behaviour does not just happen – there are often underlying causes. Bullying by those in power is also never acceptable, but that does not mean that it doesn’t happen. Bullying is an abuse of power over another individual which may result in physical and/or emotional harm.

We as citizens have to develop a number of ways to tackle bullying. In order to do this, the underlying aim lies in developing young people’s self-esteem and self-worth, through building confidence and skills to deal with conflict. It’s a good idea to establish a charter, code of practice, or ground rules that lay out the type of behaviour expected by our great leaders.

What is included will vary between various political groups, but many have a copy of their code of practice / ground rules displayed, as a reminder to young people, workers and volunteers. It’s also important to ensure that politicians know and understand the consequences of breaking the rules.

There is a range of ways to help limit challenging behaviour and must be followed. Maintain relationships and build up trust by being honest, fair and consistent, and having a sense of humour. Develop positive body language, for example aim to look relaxed, confident, assured and calmly assertive. Maintain eye contact. Praise can be instrumental in changing attitudes and boosting self-esteem, so learn to look for positive behaviour and comment on it. The dilemma of dealing with those in power is challenging to say the least.

Be aware of what can make a conflict situation worse:

Talking over, or interrupting, the other person. Showing disrespect, e.g. looking away, appearing bored or disinterested. Mood matching is another. Often people respond to anger with anger. If someone raises their voice, or begins shouting, the other person may do the same thing. This is called mood matching, and is likely to hinder the likelihood of resolution. It is high time we make our politicians answerable and accountable.

In conflict situations people often talk over one another. They focus so much on putting their own points across that they give little thought to what the other person is actually saying. When this happens, the likelihood of a positive resolution is reduced. One of the keys to conflict resolution is having good communication skills. Be assertive – inform group members that conflict can only be resolved if both parties are prepared to address the problem. So, when faced with conflict, all those involved must express their opinion. The goal in any conflict resolution is to achieve a win-win result for the people involved. This may mean that compromises are made but essentially people go away feeling that there are no losers.

Abuse and bullying can never be tolerated. That applies whether it’s done face-to-face, or behind the mask of anonymity as a Twitter troll. And be in no doubt, the rise of social media has given a new platform for awful people to churn out vile attacks.

But we do need to tread carefully when using labels such as ‘bullying’ and ‘abuse’. It is time for political leaders to take charge and they should also ‘deal with’ activists who have bullied and abused people as some of the examples cited by the citizens and the media are simply calls for non-violent democratic change. We need to have a debate about where to draw the line.

We also need to make a distinction between ‘offensive’ and ‘abusive’. There’s an often woolly but incredibly important difference between rude, noisy political disagreement and abuse. In this country, we have the right to disagree (and we should protect that right); but we do not have the right to abuse.

The ‘rudeness in politics’ has become polarised. It’s time to clean up the damage being done. The public certainly disapproves of disrespectful behaviour and the level of rudeness openly being displayed by our leaders.

((Cover Photograph ARAV TEWARI, 11years. This is his take on 'Politicians')