Getting the best of a bully doesn’t mean adopting their tactics. It means being strategic and allowing the bully to show off how much of a jerk they really are.
I’m all about compassion. So it may seem strange that I’m all about allowing bullies to dig their own holes. But here is the thing. You can’t stop them from digging their own holes. All you can do is give them an opportunity to do the right thing and if they don’t, they will have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
Here’s how it works. Bullies bully to get power. It can manifest as socially excluding someone. It can be a put down. It can be physically threatening someone or actually beating them up. What these all these various ways of bullying have in common is that they are displaying dominance over other individuals to show that they have that power.
The way you beat them is by not giving into to the dominance display.
If they verbally put you down, you respond as if they didn’t put you down at all. You also point out that their behavior was childish and inappropriate. You can do this verbally. It’s best to have something prepared to say. If you do not bow down to their power play, the bully has a problem. You stood up to them. How can they convince everyone else that they have power over you if you don’t go along?
If they try to socially exclude you, let them. And hang out with other friends. Find the other outcasts to be friends with. Being socially excluded only works IF you want to be in the group you are being excluded from. If you don’t care, then it’s not social exclusion. And, actually, you are socially excluding the bully by not including them in your group. It always amazes me how predictably people who play social exclusion games hate having their attempts to socially exclude someone fail. There is no one as persistent in getting your attention as the person who desperately wants to show you how they don’t want to play with you.
If someone is threatening you, you call them on it. If you do that I will report you. And then do it. If you are being physically attacked, defend yourself and report them.
When bullies do their thing, they want you to respond a certain way. Failure to be cowed by their power display is a problem for them. They will almost always respond by trying harder to get you to accept their dominance display. To “bet them” all you really have to do is continue to let them be a jerk, continue to stand up to them by showing you aren’t bothered by them, AND continue to document their inappropriate behavior and use that documentation to bring adult attention to the problem so that this poor individual who can’t seem to behave properly can get the help they so clearly need.
Sometimes you win, by not fighting.