There are a lot of things bullies don’t like, but the thing they like the least is being seen as weak.
Bullying is about power and control. A bully wields control in their social group by intimidating others. They are only able to exercise social control if other people are afraid of them. They have an image to maintain.
When someone defies them, they lose control and this lack of control is noticed by the group and erodes the illusion of control and power a bully works so hard to maintain. This is why they are so aggressive in their attacks against people who stand up to them. They can’t afford to be seen as weak.
Which is why, when you are dealing with a bully, one of the things you should do is think of them as weak individuals who are incapable of behaving civilly and treat them accordingly.
We treat people who are weak with pity, or we should. This approach does several things for you.
- It stops you from being afraid of them. If they are weak, you don’t need to be afraid.
- It annoys them. They don’t like being treated and perceived of as weak.
- The more you do it, the less real power they have over you and your social group.