Very few bullies think of themselves as bullies. No matter how horrible someone seems to you, you should not think of them as horrible people. Most likely, they aren’t. And if you let them, they may just surprise you.
Only about 1% of the population are psychopaths. Very few people you meet are truly horrible. In fact, it’s incredibly rare to interact with someone really evil.
The mistake we make when we have an interpersonal problem, like someone bullying us, is we think we know who they are and why they are doing what they are doing. 9 times out of 10 – our assumptions are wrong.
Most bullies – are normal human beings. They have the same fears and insecurities as everyone else does. Maybe more. They may seem like they have their stuff together, but really – they are just muddling along like everyone else. They have just found that they can gain status and divert attention from themselves, by attacking others.
When you stop thinking of this other person as a threat – you a) stop responding to their behavior as if it’s a threat and b) open yourself up to learning about them more. They may be a horrible person, but then again, they may not. They may think of you as a threat and their behavior towards you – not about you – but about protecting themselves from you.
Kids reading this own’t belief me. My son sure doesn’t. But it’s true and most adults can tell stories of people they didn’t like and didn’t get along with who they are now friends with. It happens all the time.
There was a girl in high school I really didn’t like. She was mean to me. Turns out – she thought I had been mean to her back in grade school. I probably was to be honest. We are now friends. I was a bridesmaid at her wedding and we’ve had a long friendship – once we discussed our negative dynamic and both realized that the other person wasn’t who we thought they were.
I give trainings to adults in workplaces. Whenever i go in, people tell me about their arch nemesis. The person in the office they think is the problem person. Everyone is someone else’s problem person. When they stop trying to prove the other person is horrible and instead focus on improving their own behavior – a magical thing happens. Everyone starts to get along.
Why? Because – there are very rarely – really bad people. Most people are just normal people trying to get along as best they can.
Stop making it about you. Stop playing the victim. Stop treating people as if they are your enemy – and let them surprise you.
And if it turns out they are a bad person – at least you won’t have stooped to their level.