“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of you & your life, but define yourself.”
Harvey Firestone, Founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 1868-1938
How To Handle Adult Bullying
Have you ever been bullied? Chances are that most of us will be bullied in some point in our lives. Because bullying isn’t just about children. It also involves adults. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. It’s repetitive and most often escalates over time.
There are at least 4 types of bullying: verbal, social, physical and cyber bullying. Verbal bullying includes name calling, spreading rumors, ignoring another, mean-spirited teasing, inappropriate sexual comments and threats. Social bullying includes leaving another out on purpose, putting pressure on someone not to befriend another, putting people down to another and embarrassing someone in public. Physical bullying might include hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking/breaking someone’s things and making rude hand gestures. Cyber bullying is just as serious. It might include sharing inappropriate pictures of someone, posing as as another’s friend to spread rumors or lies, or sending harassing messages.
Here’s how to handle a bully: Avoid telling them how they make you feel and stick to the facts. Deal with one incident at a time rather than addressing every wrong-doing. Initiate a conversation that is convenient for you and rehearse what you plan to say in advance. Practice with a friend or therapist. Mark Tyrrell (therapist, trainer and author) offers these 5 steps:
i.e. I want to speak to you about shouting at me in front of staff (family) members.
i.e. When you do this, it makes us both appear unprofessional (uncaring) to other staff (family members).
i.e. I think it would work better in the further if we agree that you speak to me in the office (or coffee shop) if you have anything to say to me.
i.e. This will make us both appear more professional (caring and respectful of others) and keep our working (familial) relationship in tact.
i.e. So can we agree to do it this way from now on? (If not get them to tell you exactly why so you can negotiate further).
Try this. And remember that bullies are looking for an emotional reaction from people not a calm response. While you’re talking to them maintain eye-contact. Don’t smile too much or look away. If you know that you’ll be emotionally flooded and not be able to think properly write down what you plan to say and practice, practice, practice. If you lose your confidence. Pause. Breathe. Ask the God of your understanding for help
Dr. Beverly Weinhold/November 2012