I just moved to a new school, because of a bully problem. I got punched in the face and have a scar across my eye now. So here I am at my new school and have the same problem. The question is… Is it my fault?
Yes and No. No – you are not to blame for other people being jerks. There is nothing about you or wrong with you. The problem is with the bully.
However, that’s not a complete answer. Yes, you are enabling the bullies inadvertently. Specifically, how you respond to them, they apparently really like.
What happens is that bullies condition their victims to respond in certain ways – these responses are almost automatic, but they give the bully the reward they want and so – they keep doing it. You learned these responses in the other school and when you were tested out at the new school, responded as a victim responds and – now the new school’s bullies have found you are a good victim.
What you have to learn and PRACTICE is how to respond to bullies differently so that you train them to leave you alone. This is an essential life skill and it can be taught and learned. And really, all it requires is a small tweak in what you are already doing and some courage.
The technique you have to practice is what I call the non-response response. You need to be emotionally neutral. You have to have something you have planned to say – and you have to practice saying it in a bland bored tone of voice. You need to make eye contact if possible when you say it. My son responds to taunts by saying, thank you very much for that information. It’s very helpful in a monotone while making eye contact.
The goal is to show the bullies you are not emotionally distraught by them. That what they did or said didn’t bother you and – by making eye contact – that you aren’t afraid of them, even if you really are. In order to pull this off – you have to practice it. Out loud. Get someone to help you. Have them throw common taunts or insults at you as you respond with you go to non-response response phrase.
Don’t ever argue with a bully. If they threaten you – say – if you do that – I will report you, in the same monotone with eye contact. And if they make good on their threat – report them.
These behaviors need to be done every time. The goal is not to be fun to bully.
Here’s what’s going to happen when you do this. The bully will escalate what they are doing to try and shame you into going back to your old behavior – which the bully thought was fun. Don’t. Doesn’t matter how aggressive they get, don’t back down. When they get more aggressive it means what you are doing is working. They don’t like it and they are trying to regain control. Don’t give this control back. Report, document and respond to EVERY single incidence of bullying. Don’t get mad when the school tries to paint what is happening as a conflict. Just keep being cool, calm and emotionally neutral to what the bully is doing and keep reporting them – every time – not every few times, every time. This will raise the cost of their behavior and your response won’t be any fun for them so – the reward is lessoned and eventually they will give up.
The key to responding to harassment in an emotionally neutral way – is to actually be emotionally neutral or compassionate. I like to think of bullies as damaged frail scared people who are so inept, they don’t know any other way to relate to people. This helps me not be afraid when confronted and my response is not just neutral – is compassionate – which bullies also hate. When I report, I report out of compassion. Not just for myself, but for the bully and for their other victims.
Once they run through attempts to retaliate to get you to stop doing what they don’t like, they will eventually give up. Good luck.
And if you need more help, consider getting my book or going through the free materials and resources on this website. There are a lot of materials available with free membership. And if you need more help developing a strategy to deal with your situation, consider signing up for the all access toolkit – which does include a copy of the book.