It feels horrible to be bullied. It can consume your thoughts. The fear of what happens next or might happen next. Not knowing how to fix it. The lack of control you have in a situation where someone is being mean to you. I, along with everyone else, hate being treated badly.
But does that mean we should hate bullies?
While the emotion – hate – might be the first emotion you have, that emotion won’t help you deal with the situation effectively. It may help you feel self-righteous about the situation, but it won’t help fix the problem.
Our goal, should be to gain control of out of control social situations so that – we no longer are subjected to bad things.
How do you do that? Through strategic rational thinking. Hate is the enemy of rational thinking. It feels justified, but it’s not helpful to figuring out how to make it stop.
What works is to no longer respond to the bullying the way the bully wants. Being upset and angry – is an emotional response. Your anger, may actually be rewarding to the bully. That’s the first reason to not allow your anger to consume you.
Grey Rock: Emotional Neutral – and maybe even – Compassion
What works to NOT reward a bully is to be emotionally neutral. Respond to them as if they were a grey rock. If a rock blocked your path – would you hate the rock? No. You wouldn’t invest any emotional energy into it at all. You would simply – walk around the rock.
I realize – bullies are NOT rocks. They are often in your face – threatening you and saying mean things. The point is – whatever your response is – make it emotionally neutral. Maybe even – compassionate.
How will this help?
Bullies want to get a response out of you – the more emotional that response – the better. You can and should respond, but don’t give them the emotional reward by being upset. Treat them as if they were a rock – and just say – that’s not ok – and walk away.
If you can be compassionate with them – and feel sorry for them – bonus.
You don’t have to be mean back to them. All that does is help them justify their bad behavior to you.
Your goal is to respond in a way the bully doesn’t want and to do this consistently.
Playing to the real audience
The 2nd reason to respond neutrally or with compassion is because – it helps the audience – the people witnessing this – clearly see what is happening for what it is.
If you fight back – or get angry or mad, the audience will see that and think – you are part of the problem. If you are neutral, polite and even – nice – the audience – will see that and understand that the bully – is in fact – a bully. They will also see you – not taking the bait.
When you make it clear – what the bully is doing is not ok and that it’s not bothering you – people will understand – what was said – wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t taken as a joke and you didn’t like it. But they also won’t see you fighting fire with fire. They will see you standing up for yourself in a way that is polite and nice – and the bully – clearly is NOT being nice.
What happens next is that the bully will usually – get worse and try to get you to respond. Keep responding in a neutral way – that’s not ok. Normally what happens when you do this is eventually the bullies friends tell them to back off. Others may also intervene on your behalf. To trigger this support, you do have to stand up for yourself and make it clear – what the bully is doing – is not ok.
The key to making this work – is to be emotionally neutral – like a grey rock. And even maybe compassionate.
To learn more – get my book and view the videos on this website.