Why Fighting Bullies Doesn’t Work

This is a blog about how to stop bullies. However, recent events in politics, specifically how candidates are responding to the bully that is Trump, provides an example of what doesn’t work that we can all learn from.


Jeb Bush responded to Trump by calling him out but then failed to have the right body language – and so he was defeated. http://www.sumogirl.com/sumomambo/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=838&Itemid=63

The next one up was “Little Marco.” This is the nickname that Trump, the bully, gave to Marco Rubio – a Senator! Rubio tried to fight Trump. And he got smashed and is no longer running.

This leaves Cruz and Kasich. Cruz is currently engaging with Trump in arguments over whose wife is hot. Cruz is doing pretty well, but the person who is doing the best, in terms of how to defeat Trump is Kasich. I realize he is not winning much, but he may very well end up as the nominee in the end. Here is why.

In responding to Trump, Kasich is simply stating, that’s not how a president should act. I’m worried about his tone and his behavior, that’s not how a president should act. That’s the perfect response, because if Trump tries to bluster and be a bully, he’s just proving Kasich’s point. When Kasich is asked to respond to specific statements by Trump, he refuses. He simply says – I am bothered by what I’ve heard and I don’t think that’s how a president should act. He’s refusing to discuss the merits or demerits of anything Trump is saying. He’s turning this into a referendum on Trump’s behavior. Not his ideas. And that’s exactly where the focus should be. On the behavior – not on whether the behavior is justified or not.

Fighting a bully doesn’t work because it plays into the bully’s hand. It turns bullying into a conflict and makes both people look like they are to blame. The only way to successfully fight a bully is by not fighting them. Allow them to behave badly and just point out – you know – I think they are behaving badly. You don’t have to defend yourself from their attacks. You don’t have to defend your loved ones. It’s enough to say – when Trump says your wife is ugly, to say – you know – that sort of behavior is inappropriate and rude. You are defending without fighting. The bully will call you more names, that’s ok – that just proves your point. Keep at it until they get in trouble and go away.

I understand the impulse to respond and fight. I really do – but if you do – you stoop to their level. Fighting might make you feel good and self-righteous in the moment. But all you are doing is playing THEIR game and it’s a game they will win. You win by making them play your game.

Don’t let a bully get away with bully. Don’t fight them, just make them look bad and take away their reward. In the case of Trump, his reward is looking tough. If he looks stupid and petty, he’s lost his reward.

If you learn anything from the current Republican primary – let it be this. Fighting back against a bully really doesn’t work. Rubio and Jeb! are proof of that.