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
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.
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 respectful 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