wings and things

Bullying 2

on November 3, 2012

I’ve been reading quite a bit about bullying lately, not just because it is a hot topic, and an enormous problem in cyberspace, but also because I’ve only just begun to realize, with the benefit of hindsight, its impact. I don’t usually like labels, but ‘bully’ is a very handy concept in that it enables you to put the bully/bullies into a kind of metaphorical ‘bully box’ and toss them away.

Now, obviously, bullying is not a new problem, but it seems to have been talked about much more over the last 12 years or so. There is very little I can add to this burgeoning discourse. I am more interested in the characteristics of a bully and in trying to figure out why a bully is a bully. I’m also curious about whether a bully can change. As is probably obvious, I am fascinated by this topic.

Characteristics of a bully (including possible reasons for the bullying personality):

  • Often bullies have poor communications skills, so use shouting and swearing to get a point across.
  • Typically, bullies will be devoid of empathy and may not even understand the meaning of the word.
  • Bullies may use the following tactics: invasion (arriving aggressively on your doorstep unexpectedly); coercion (the surprise attack method of getting you to do something); complaint (to make you think you are in the wrong); charm (pretense of friendliness to get something from you); and/or inane smalltalk (to bore you into submission).
  • Interestingly, bullies may never have been bullied themselves but, instead, may have been over-indulged children who have learned that tantrums work.
  • Many bullies show a ghoulish interest in real-life crime and horror, enjoy playing cruel practical jokes, and may even inflict physical harm to animals or humans.
  • Bullies are often irrational, dishonest and lacking in emotional intelligence.
  • Often, bullies are flamboyant, attractive, ‘larger-than-life’ and sometimes even popular (in a party context).
  • Some bullies are preoccupied with wealth and may be ‘sycophantish’ towards anyone who is wealthier.
  • Most bullies do not have any idea of what a conscience is.
  • Bullies are often very miserable people.

Tips on how to deal with a bullies (this is what I’ve done and it’s worked):

  • Recognize the bullies as bullies
  • Say ‘no’ to the bullies. Ask them to leave you alone and, if they don’t, seek professional support.
  • Put the bullies into the metaphorical ‘bully box’, toss them away and then forget about them.
  • Forgive their ignorance.
  • Forgive them for hurting the people you love most in the world (that’s a difficult one!)

Then SMILE!!!

Note: These are just my own thoughts on the bullying issue, gleaned from my own experience. I do hope, however, that some of this might be helpful to others.

45 responses to “Bullying 2

  1. janeslog says:

    We had one in our office. Fortunately we managed to get rid of them. Bullies are very good at covering their tracks so there is no evidence.

  2. diannegray says:

    I think that understanding a person is a bully gives you a bit of a head-start on them – it’s when you don’t know they’re a bully that they can be particularly dangerous and manipulative Through my work, I’ve had to deal with many people who have been bullied and it can have a devastating affect on their lives. I’m really glad you wrote this post, Julie 😉

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thanks, Dianne. Yes, it took me awhile to realize (just a decade or so – ha!) that I was/we were dealing with a simple case of bullying. Once I realized that, a whole lot of inexplicable stuff made sense. In retrospect I am rather grateful for the experience because it has taught me a lot, and Ming too! Jxxx

  3. victoriaaphotography says:

    Interesting topic (having spent the last 16 1/2 years of my working life working in a private school).

    I wasn’t a teacher, just working in Adminstration & Finance. I saw alot of Bullying (including Harrassment and Bullying of myself for several years in the beginning of that work period. I was rather shocked and truly bewildered by the action of these work colleagues).

    I think the important thing is to be able to recognise it and accept that it is the Bully who had the problem (not you). A Bully can only bully those that allow themselves to be bullied, just as Negative Emotions can only have a detrimental effect on your life (if you allow them too).

    But trying saying that to a small child who is being bullied. They feel helpless and hurt. It sometimes takes a lifetime to recover from the onslaught, but recover you can. As you say, mentally put them in a ‘bully box’ and move on.

  4. bulldogsturf says:

    Firstly, glad part two had more words than part one…secondly, this was well worth the wait and very well presented… glad you did this….

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thanks Bulldog! I couldn’t find quite the right words yesterday but, after speaking to a friend about her experiences, I thought it might be useful to talk a bit about it (obviously this is just my perspective.)

  5. you seem to have it covered — and I do think most of us have been bullied in some or many ways throughout life — your advice to put them in a box and throw them away is a good one

  6. yellowlancer says:

    That’s a great post, Julie! Unfortunately, I’ve been on the receiving end of bullying more than once and I think your advice could really help someone going through it. Unfortunately, bullies pick their targets and often victims think they are alone and even blame themselves. The more people speak out as you have done, the less power bullies will have. Well done!

  7. dogdaz says:

    Thanks for the insight. It is a shame that their are and will continue to be people that only know how to relate by intimidating others. Your characterization is probably right on. I do wonder however, given certain circumstances, if there is not a potential bully in all of us. One must stay humble to that inner bully to call them up when faced with one. Maybe that will help people see the actions quicker and do what you say ‘box it’ and then ‘chuck it’

  8. elizabeth says:

    I hate bullies! I’m one who will say something if I come across any bullying. It may be in a store, at a bus stop, in the court house/police station (that one was hilarious!) but there is something in me that just can’t hold my tongue when someone is being bullied. That said, I’m a big feardy-cat. LOL 🙂

    Loved your recognize them as bullies advice. As someone else said, that is a great head-start on the bully.

  9. Yes, Julie. You have bullies pegged right. Good advice too.

  10. shoreacres says:

    This is a good post, but I must say – I’m a little tired of all the bullying talk, in the same way that I’m sick to death of people screaming “sexual harassment” or “racism” at the least little thing.

    Part of my weariness with it all comes from societal changes that actually have elevated the status of the bully. Of course we had them when I was in grade school, and even in junior high. By high school, we kids had pretty much taken care of them ourselves, and there wasn’t any more bother. If we ran to our parents or teacher in grade school to tattle about someone acting badly, they would listen and perhaps make suggestions, but for the most part we were left to deal with the situation ourselves. And we did, even if it only meant ignoring the bully.

    Today,anti-bullying campaigns and such have become a growth industry, and believe me – at least here in the US, there’s a lot of grant money out there for people who can prove they’re dealing with bullies. If there’s money on the line, some people will see a bully hiding behind every bush.

    Of course there are obnoxious people. Of course there are people who like to throw their weight around and prove their importance by making others feel insignificant. But one thing never has changed about bullies, at least as far as I can tell. If you stand up to one, they wither away. They have power over us only to the degree that we grant them that power – that’s why your “bully box” is the perfect solution!

    • jmgoyder says:

      I know what you mean – ‘bullying’ has almost become the catchcry of the decade and probably enabled all and sundry to ‘cry wolf’. And the literature and campaigns etc. are huge here too – to the point of overkill. To ignore is definitely the best way – or, in the case of extreme bullying, to escape. Thanks for your thought-provoking response.

  11. I think we’ve all been touched by bullies. They are everywhere and can attack at any moment. I’ve worked with a few and generally was able to keep my distance, and my dignity. The one that amazes me is cyber bullies. I’ve met them online and it is easy to fall into discourse with them, though they will twist your words and take them out of context and use them against you. The only way to deal with a bully is to ignore them. Refuse to engage in conversation with them. Eventually they will get bored and go away.

    I feel badly for bullies, because, as you pointed out, they don’t realize they are bullies. They are just three-year-olds trapped in an adult body. I think they are often also narcissistic which lends them credibility in their own minds for their behavior.

  12. Carol Hogan says:

    I think it’s a mistake to think of bullies as ‘them’: all of us are capable of misusing our power over others at times – I know I have. Things like excluding particular kids, subtle snide comments, looks – I wish I could go back and ‘re-shoot’ some episodes from my childhood and adolescence, with me behaving in a much more generous and inclusive manner. Also, during my many years in education, I’ve seen some of the nicest kids engage in bullying behaviours. The sociopathic bullies you describe are one end of a continuum, but I don’t really think any of us is exempt, not really.

    • jmgoyder says:

      I agree that we are all capable of bad behaviour but I wouldn’t call that bullying. You’re so right that I am describing sociopathic bullies – those who would never want to go back and ‘re-shoot’ episodes as you describe. Thanks for getting me (re)thinking the issue, Carol!

  13. Jo-Anne says:

    I was teased and bullied when I was in school and would go around with a smile on my face and act like they didn’t bother me because there was no way I would allow the bullies to see that their words hurt……………when my girls were at school and told me that they were being bullied at school i told them all they could do was not show pain and to except that bullies are part of life………….however my youngest daughter found punching them in the face worked better…………

  14. sbcallahan says:

    bullies do not always fall into some nice category. it would be oh so helpful if they did. many times it is disguised as the concerned parent,spouse or friend. way too often bullies fool their victims into believing it is all out of love. even sweet sick loves can become bullies to manipulate loved ones to do what they want. hope you are staying far away from bullies! you have enough on your plate.

  15. eof737 says:

    Okay but this might surprise you…. I say, FIGHT BACK! By nature, bullies are cowards and rarely pick on people their size or those who stare them down. I also say parents should be bold in demanding swift action at their kids school… When we don’t take punitive action at schools, our kids suffer. It kills me every time I read another story about a kid who committed suicide because they could no longer bear the bullying and their parents were hoping it would just go away or end. Some parents even believe that if you don’t interfere, it would sort itself out. HOW!!!? That is just mind-boggling. No, we stand up the minute we hear it and fight. I did and made it clear I would take legal action if necessary. These are our kids and we have to advocate for them or who will? 😦

  16. URL says:

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  17. bluebee says:

    Did you see that awful episode on the bus in Melbourne last week? And nobody said anything to the cretin. Makes my blood boil

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