5 Strategies to Deal with a Bully

April 30, 2019

How to avoid being pulled into controlling relationships.

Bully. Most of us are familiar with this term. What was once upon a time a word used to describe a certain kind of person, a certain type of interaction with a limited connotation has become much more recognizable recently and has had its meaning expanded socially, emotionally, and psychologically.

Most of us are knowledgeable about what bullying is and what it means to be bullied and, in fact, many of us have had the personal experience of being bullied.

What is a bully? Well, it’s someone who gets on your case, in your face, on your back, and doesn’t let up. They find you, pick you out, deem that you’re vulnerable and a good target to bother and harass. They believe that you are somehow weak enough and defenseless enough to  allow them to vent their aggression and anger, and to unload their numerous insecurities upon you.

Who is a bully? A bully may exist in any setting—someone in your family, at work or at school, a once thought to be friend, and most surprisingly, a spouse and/or other intimate relationship. Sometimes, it’s a stranger.

What is bullying? From my point of view, it can run the gamut from a rather benign annoying interaction to a very malignant and aggressive one. Some people just get under your skin whenever they have the opportunity but their intention does not run so deep.

They just want to get your attention and perhaps, your reaction, but not much more. Some bullies, on the other hand, give a great deal of thought to how they interact with their “victims” and their intention is to upset, to inflict some level of emotional pain. And sometimes, bullying is intended to be devastating to the one bullied and, as we’ve seen in the media, to inflict harm and evil.

More specifically, let me give you some examples of what I consider bullying behavior. Some of you may not agree but others of you will probably shake your head “yes” recognizing certain kinds of behavior and interactions that many of you have personally experienced.

School is a place where kids may find themselves alone, not fitting in to any particular group,  feeling awkward (as many kids do), and having to navigate their way around without anyone to support and/or protect them. They may stand out as particularly vulnerable and an easy target for a bully. Daily teasing, harassing, making fun of someone’s looks, intelligence, etc. may become a nightmare for a bullying victim and may even escalate to a level that may cause the one bullied to become afraid, anxious, depressed, and much worse.

Then there is the office. Co-workers can become bullies for many reasons, due to their own personal psychological issues, to jealousy over another’s abilities on the job, especially when they are recognized for their work and contribution, to fear that someone else will succeed on the job and they, the bully, won’t and/or will be compared to someone perceived as doing a better job. Then there are those who just don’t like other people, or working cooperatively, or just get their jollies by upsetting everyone.

Next, there are the family bullies. This can be just one member of the family that likes to stir the pot, creating discord within the family, being difficult and uncooperative when it comes to family dynamics in general, often pitting one family member against another. Sometimes they consistently pick on one particular family member, or spread the wealth by annoying various members at different times. They may bully for psychological reasons, for perceived wrongs done to them; they may bully for financial reasons, and may even bully a vulnerable family member sexually.

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