Back in March this year, This Morning on ITV supported the ‘Be Kind’ campaign. It was targeted at children and parents to prevent bullying, and the sad consequences to their mental health ! In extreme situations even causing them to take their own lives.
With the use of the internet, it is far easier for people to bully others. Most communication is carried out by email, text or social media. You can now bully someone without seeing the direct consequences, or even caring.
Children often find it hard to know how to deal with bullies, or even tell them about it. There are a lot of support groups out there now which help parents and teachers deal with this. Its a terrible thought that we even have to consider this, but if we don’t tackle childhood bullying, it can lead to them continuing to bully others into their adulthood!
Lets first deal with What is a bully?
It’s someone who attempts to control another person through verbal abuse. This can be the tone of their voice or the content such as teasing or threats. Bullying can occur anywhere, in the workplace, school, home and clubs. It can be carried out by anyone whatever their relationship with you.
Why do people bully?
There can be many reasons why people bully. If you understand the reason behind it, it may help you deal with it. The main reasons are:-
- The person may have been bullied before.
Whilst this isn’t an excuse, if they have grown up with bullies, they may follow suit, as it is all that they have known.
- They are lonely.
If they feel they are not important and have no-one in their lives, they may be seeking attention.
- They have personal problems.
If they have personal problems this could impact on their own behaviours. They may be more aggressive than usual.
- They have low self-esteem.
What better way to make yourself feel better than to try and put someone else down! Bullies with low self-esteem will try and find a weakness in someone. They will fish to find what they think they can use against them. Unfortunately, this can backfire if the victim is someone who is actually stronger!
- They are jealous.
There can be many reasons for the jealousy, an ex has moved on, the victim is more successful or more popular than them, someones been promoted or even as simple as the car they drive.
- They are just arrogant and believe they are better than others.
Some bullies just think they are better than everyone else, and can do what they like, treat people how they like and its ok. Until they feel the consequence of their actions they will continue on the same path.
- They think they are impressing others.
If you think back to the gang cultures, the bully is almost like a peacock. They feel that by being a bully in front of others, it makes them more powerful and people will look up to them. These are usual people who don’t have a lot else to offer so use this as a way of surrounding them with so called ‘friends’!
- They just see you as different.
We are all different, but some people just don’t know how to handle this. They will pick on this difference and try and use it against the other person.
So how do we deal with them?
In the workplace we are taught to challenge inappropriate behaviours, but how easy is this outside of work?
As I said above, bullies are trying to control another person. Its all about power! If you take away that control or power, they can’t bully you any longer!
I’m amazed at the lengths some bullies go to to try and find something to use as a potential weapon. Turn that on its head! How sad is it that someone has nothing else in their lives but to focus on you. In fact it could be a compliment that they feel the need to dedicate so much time on you!
You don’t need to be the victim once you put their behaviour into that context. Actual they are the victim. To what, you may never know, only they will know why they feel the need to try and victimise another person.
I’ve listed some of the reasons above. Sometimes the behaviour of the bully is just so far off the scale of normal that you really can’t be bothered to give them another thought. This usually happens in isolated instances.
Last year we had a driver try to bully and intimidate us. He had overtaken us on a blind bend with oncoming traffic. My husband had to pull off the road and do an emergency stop. The oncoming traffic were flashing lights too. My husband also blew the horn. While the driver was in the wrong, he felt the need to pent his aggression on us. He did an emergency stop in front of us which almost caused another accident. He then jumped out of the car and started getting aggressive at my husband.
It would have been so easy to rise to his behaviour. Instead, I calmly informed him that his actions could have caused a serious accident. I told him to get back into his car and move on. When you put water on the fire, its amazing how little more the bully has to come back at you at. I then took a picture of his car and reported it to the police. If he had just continued on his journey we may have been annoyed at this lack of care on the road. The fact that he stopped and did what he did then took it to another level! By not rising to him and reporting him, we took back the control.
Obviously, when its long term bullying, that is more challenging.
If like me you are not from a background where you were exposed to bullying, when it first happens its a shock. I was always brought up to respect others. My father used to say ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything’. That is not to say we were a push over. Certainly not. We were also brought up to talk to people with respect and dignity if there was a problem. To not gossip behind others backs, or say things that are not true for your own ends.
In business they always say, look after those on your way up because you may need them on your way down. This is so true.
I have come across people who gossip about others. They take a half truth and twist it to make it sound something its not. Its all about power and getting a reaction! They then look around to see who is listening to them. Often they assume others agree with them. Often its not the case. Others may just not want to get involved or question that person about it!
If you are a target of these bullies, think about what they are trying to achieve. If its a reaction, don’t give it to them. They can only continue if you give them reason to do it. Don’t stoop to their level! If they want to be nasty let them. It will cause them more stress and unhappiness than you.
A bit of advice I was given once was, if you can look in the mirror and can honestly say you like the person you are, you can sleep at night knowing you have done the best for others and have caused no-one harm on purpose, then you have nothing to worry about.
I’m not saying the bully will have sleepless nights about their behaviour. Some of them are just not built with the self awareness of what they are doing, or even care what harm they could potentially do.
Another piece of advice I was given is that if you can rise above the bully, you will come out as a stronger person, or in a stronger relationship etc.
Everyone in their life will experience a bully. Just remember who you are, your values, and the truth. You will eventually find their behaviour both sad and funny. Once you get to that situation, they can keep trying new ways to get at you, but ultimately, they will fail as they have no control over you.
Remember the impact a bully will have on others around you too. They may be targeting you, but their action could impact on someone close to you too. Talk to them about the bullies actions, comments and behaviours. They may be uncomfortable too, but don’t know how to deal with it.
Bullies are very good as I said at taking a half truth and turning it around. Those impacted may also be nervous about who to challenge. Who do they believe? How should they deal with it? They may have many questions.
So next time you get a text, email or social media message that is attacking you, take a step back and consider it for what it is! Don’t let it impact on you. Bullies rely on causing emotional and mental destruction. Don’t give in to them. If it becomes unmanageable, then you can also raise it with the authorities. This isn’t always possible especially when its in the home or work place, but by using some of my mechanisms above, whilst the person will continue to try and bully you, there will be no impact on you personally, unless its just to raise a smile at the persons latest attempt!
I’m a true believer in Karma!
And finally, don’t be a bully yourself. Think about the consequence of your actions on others and how you would feel if you were in their shoes!
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