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.