How to Baffle a Bully

There’s always one isn’t there?

Or maybe more. According to anti-bullying charity, Ditch the Label, 69% of young people will experience bullying. Children have even committed suicide, often due to a new phenomenon known as cyber (online) bullying, and it doesn’t stop there, with a quarter of office workers experiencing it.

When I was younger I used to get really upset by people trying to humiliate me and put me down. But then I grew up and saw it in a new light.

In my experience, there are four main reasons for it:

1. It makes them feel socially superior

By showing you up, they feel like everyone is on their side, laughing with them. They think they appear more clever as imagesa result. They don’t.

2. They feel threatened by you

Perhaps they feel that you are more qualified or perceive you as superior, this leads to point one – they need to ensure that they are back on top in their minds. So take it as a compliment.

3. Revenge

It gives them a kick for that time you did something to offend them.

4. They’re having a bad time and need someone to take it out on

They see you as a soft target. Don’t be one.

So, how do you deal with it?

 – Pity the bully

Their lives must be unhappy to behave like that. Perhaps they envy you, perhaps they need help. But don’t make it your problem. Perhaps they were badly brought up. Feel grateful that you were brought up to be polite and bullyingrespectful to others.

– Don’t let them change you

Sociopaths have high self esteem. If this is to blame, they think they’re amazing, so why shouldn’t you think that about yourself as well! What makes you different makes you beautiful. Christina Aguilera had it right in her song about the issue. 

 – Don’t lower yourself to their level

Maintain your personal integrity. Don’t try to behave like them in revenge. For example if they are swearing, don’t lower your standards and swear back. You know you are better than that.

 – Don’t let them win

They want an emotional response from you. Don’t let them have it. When I was at school a student told a girl in my class that her headband looked like toilet roll. She responded “if toilet roll was all I was wearing you’d be happy to see me in it wouldn’t you”. The boy was not expecting a comeback and blushed – the joke was now on him. She then wore the headband for the rest of the week. Think on your feet and show the bully they haven’t affected you. This is how you win.

 – Don’t give them ammunition

They’ll try and collect things you say or do to use against you later. Make sure you don’t say anything they could use when they are in earshot. Make sure you behave appropriately for the same reason.

 – “Love thy enemy”

This is age-old wisdom and it’s true. Treat them like anyone else – you do not want them to think they have got to you, this may be what they want. Bullies teach us how to deal with adversity. With their challenge we can grow stronger.

 – Don’t bother with revenge – they’ve got it coming anyway

People who bring negative karma to others usually get it back themselves. For example, someone who is rude to you may be rude to a teacher and be disciplined. This is why there is no point in revenge, the consequences of their behaviour will be felt at some point or another.

 Develop your confidence

With unshakable confidence they can’t make you doubt or think negatively yourself. Taekwondo really helped my brother with that. Self defence also means you know you can protect yourself should the bullying get physical. I got confidence from my grades and my sister got confidence from dancing exam results.

 – Stand up for yourself

If it starts affecting you or your work don’t be afraid to address their behaviour with them privately or tell someone with higher status if this is unsuccessful or if you feel too intimidated (e.g. teacher, manager). They may not realise they were upsetting you. Make sure you have a log of specific things they have said/done with dates. If there is no result take it to the teacher/manager again, or take it to a more senior level if you feel it is not being addressed. Explain what you have done to attempt to rectify the situation. Again make sure you have dates and stick to the point. When addressing it with the bully or a superior, be clear that it is nothing personal, you just wish to be treated with respect. Don’t suffer in silence – they wouldn’t.

Finally, as the comedian George Carlin said:

Try and laugh at how ridiculous they are – it always makes things easier.

“You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.” Rapper Jay-Z



Filed under Advice, Uncategorized

4 responses to “How to Baffle a Bully

  1. Even though I knew a lot of this already from my experiences of being bullied, I wish I’d come across something like this post when I started a new job over 2 years ago. There was a woman who’d been there for a long time and felt threatened by me. I believe it was because I was more intelligent than her and the only other woman in the team, although she had a history of always targeting the new people. I learnt the system very quickly and soon knew it better than she did. I was therefore much better at the complicated work and always came up with process improvements.

    She always targeted me for the little things I kept forgetting to do (When you have inattentive ADHD, you forget a lot of things!), which was great in a way because it ended up with me getting professional help with it with assistance from work; The anxiety, stress and anger I felt towards her behaviour helped and hindered because it brought out the worst in me and gave me (therefore getting the help I now have) and a chance to show how neutral and honest I am as a person when dealing with difficult circumstances, but also meant that I was always anxious, stressed and angry about her behaviour.

    My managers did try to help with the situation by managing when and how we interacted with each other to a certain extent. It did become clear that her attitude towards me was always OTT, and over time it got worse because ironically she was getting very upset at how victimised she was feeling and how I always seemed to “get away with it”. Whatever “it” happened to be at the time. I came very close to making official complaints a few times during my time there, and if I had I would have been backed up by a large amount of evidence and by all of the colleagues on the team, but funnily enough when it got to that point, she’d die down for a while and I’d continue bumbling along hoping that one day we would get to some level of understanding of one another.

    I wish that I had made those official complaints at the time, as when I relocated I gave 2 months notice, and the closer it got to my moving date, the more disruptive and nasty she became. Just over a week before I was due to leave, she sent an e-mail to my team leader and his manager about how I’d missed this one little part of some housekeeping. It had been a light workload for the week or so before this e-mail had been sent and I’d been doing all sorts of extra cleaning and tasks that she had seen me doing but didn’t get involved with (preferring instead to chat to her friends). I sent a reply, leaving her out, and copied in the HR dept (who was also aware of our difficult relationship and my ADHD) declaring only the facts with evidence where appropriate and stated that if it wasn’t for my imminent departure, I would have definitely made an official complaint. After I sent this e-mail, I ended up with the impression that she had given herself so much rope and wood, that it wasn’t going to be long until the scaffold was up and she’d be hanging from her own noose.

    Anyone reading this – please don’t keep quiet. Please have the courage not only to speak up, but also to make things official. Also, don’t EVER brush potential pieces of evidence under the carpet/into the recycle bin. You never know when you may need it.

    • Thank you for this maladiousmoggy, I have been in the same situation and the way you dealt with it was great given the circumstances.

      • Thank you 🙂 I was really lucky that I had such a good relationship with the management and other staff though. I dread to think what it could have been like if I didn’t! I would advocate joining a union if you have that option.

        Being victimised/bullied/singled out is s***. I’m glad that it’s been given as much attention that it has of late. When there was a lot of media attention on it a couple of years ago in Britain I remember an older man with a beard being interviewed by a TV news team (I think it was BBC). He was asked if he could choose when he could have had his childhood, he said that he would choose to have it now because of the heightened awareness of bullying in the playground. It’s very encouraging!

        What happened with you?

  2. Pingback: How to Baffle a Bully | maladiousmoggy

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