Even Adults Can Be Bullied

Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin

Bul­ly­ing in the NFL means there could be bul­ly­ing any­where.  How do you han­dle a bully as an adult?  Here’s what the experts say.

1. Remem­ber that this is not your fault. If you’ve been on the receiv­ing end of bul­ly­ing treat­ment from an adult for some time it’s pos­si­ble that you will be blam­ing your­self for how this per­son has reacted to you. How­ever this is not true. Every­one is respon­si­ble for how they choose to treat oth­ers. This can be a lot eas­ier said than done. Par­tic­u­larly if the bully has aroused strong feel­ings of anger in you. How­ever, a reac­tion such as this will only prove to the bully that he/she has suc­ceeded in get­ting to you — which is what they want. Bul­lies feed off neg­a­tive emo­tions, because deep down in some way they feel inferior/insecure about them­selves and it’s only by mak­ing oth­ers feel bad that they can raise their self esteem. React­ing to a bully in this kind of way is likely to only fur­ther encour­age and pos­si­bly worsen their unwanted behav­ior towards you. The adult bully is a coward.

2. See if killing them with kind­ness helps. This doesn’t always work. But in cir­cum­stances when you’ve not long known the bully (such as if for exam­ple you’ve just been intro­duced to them at work) it can. Often what inspires a bully to be nasty towards oth­ers is an assump­tion that their tar­get is a threat towards them in some way, as well as an expe­ri­ence of a lack of kind­ness from oth­ers through­out their lives. By demon­strat­ing that you don’t intend harm towards them and are will­ing to be friendly, this can encour­age more pos­i­tive responses from them. This might be any­thing from a friendly good morn­ing ‘hello’ to an offer of help with some­thing. How­ever, if after try­ing this 2–3 times they still con­tinue with their behav­ior cease this approach. This won’t work on every bully, and being nice to them every time they choose to bully you is likely to send the mes­sage you are reward­ing their behavior/find it acceptable.

3. Try assertive responses against the bully . Exam­ples of this could include assertive body lan­guage (look­ing the bully firmly in the eye while stand­ing straight), an assertive tone of voice (clear and firm with­out sound­ing threat­en­ing) and assertive choice of words such as “I’ve recently noticed signs that you are try­ing to bully me and want this behav­ior to stop.” That said, choos­ing an appro­pri­ate assertive behav­ior will — to a cer­tain extent — be depen­dent on the spe­cific bul­ly­ing sit­u­a­tion. What might be effec­tive in a work bul­ly­ing sit­u­a­tion might not work so well in a fam­ily or cyber bul­ly­ing situation.

4. If all else fails, con­sider enlist­ing somebody’s help. This might be a trusted col­league or super­vi­sor (if it’s a work bul­ly­ing sit­u­a­tion) or a fam­ily rel­a­tive or friend (if it’s a fam­ily bul­ly­ing sit­u­a­tion. Speak­ing to your doc­tor is also an option, if you feel the sit­u­a­tion is heav­ily impact­ing upon your phys­i­cal and/or men­tal health.



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