As much as we don't want to believe it, we didn't leave bullies in our childhood. This guide will teach you how to deal with adult bullies in a mature way.
First, let's think back…
Take a moment to imagine yourself as a child again. You’re playing on the playground and happily minding your own business.
Suddenly, you are towered by a familiar, yet shadowy presence. In that moment, your heart sinks. You realize who has approached you.
You feel powerless. Abruptly, this person begins to use you as an emotional, or even physical, punching bag.
Does this scenario sound familiar? For many of us, it’s all too real.
Signs That You're Dealing with an Adult Bully
You’d think bullies are only people that we’d deal with when we're children and teenagers. However, it just isn't the case. In fact, Dr. Phil says that many child bullies are bullied at home – by the parents.
This is how to identify an adult bully:
- They like to “strong-arm” people into siding with them or making decisions in their favor.
- You'll notice that they target timid, vulnerable individuals. You might even notice that their significant other has those traits of an emotional abuse victim.
- They play the victim or guilt-trip people.
- Adult bullies will try to gaslight you.
- Very judgmental and/or critical.
- You'll find this individual always badmouthing others or spreading rumors.
- Adult Bullies overreact and are extremely dramatic – especially if they feel slighted.
- They complain a lot. In fact, you'll notice that they love to hold others accountable for their own feelings.
- The most obvious sign of an adult bully is their controlling behavior. They want everything to be “their way or the highway” and if something doesn't go that way – you'll instantly see that bully come out to play.
Bullies are not only found on the playground. They grow up to be tormentor parents, colleagues, spouses, and friends.
How to Deal with Adult Bullies
If you find yourself in the unfortunate company of a bully, as an adult, here are some tips to help protect yourself.
1. Don't React
Keep your reactions to the bully’s negative behavior to a minimum. If the bully recognizes that their intimidation tactics are causing you distress, this only fuels their desire to keep hurting you. Your body language is a main indicator of how much you are affected by a bully’s actions. Relax your muscles and simply smile to show they are unsuccessful in their attempts to ruin your day.
2. Be Clear and Concise
Use your verbal communication skills to be clear and concise. If you must work or engage with the bully, don’t avoid communication with them all together. Instead, speak to them normally. This will make the bully feel uncomfortable for even attempting to pick on you.
3. Don't take it personal.
Don’t take anything the bully says to heart. Bullies have a strange need to inflict emotional damage on others in order to bring themselves comfort. Any negative trash they throw at you does NOT have to become your burden. Know that the bullies themselves are the burden in these situations, not you.
4. Remove Yourself
Try to remove yourself from the toxic environment, if possible. If you’re in a similar working space as the bully, as a supervisor about relocating to an area where the bully isn’t easily able to reach you. Within the home, try to go to another room or even remove yourself from the house. Take yourself to a more peaceful place and take a deep breath. This brings me to the next fact…
5. Tell Someone With Authority
Speak up to someone you trust or in authority. In the workplace, privately speak to a supervisor about the bully and raise your concerns. If the bullying is occurring within your home, try to talk to another family member or trusted friend. It is likely that you are not the only one whom is suffering from the toxicity.
6. Don't Stoop to Their Level
Don’t mirror the bully’s toxic behavior. As tempting as it may be, finding aspects of the bully to pick on will only give the bully more ammo for the next time they interact with you. If you fire insults at them, this may come back at you in a negative manner that you’ll later regret.
7. Avoid Physical Altercations
Avoid physical contact at all costs. If you find yourself face-to-face with the bully and they are provoking physical contact, stand your ground and do not push yourself into a brawl. Remember to relax your body and show that you are not afraid of them. They are likely too afraid to physically hurt you if they haven’t already.
8. Document The Offenses
Document every single offense and keep the records for as long as you can. You may need these records if you need to file a complaint at work or even file a police report if the bully’s actions become emotionally or physically detrimental.
9. Speak Up
If worse comes to worst and you are forced to stand up for yourself or you feel that you’re in true danger, confront the bully about their actions. Stand your ground and remain strong. When you can, have a trusted friend or family member with you. You have been taking their abuse for too long and you need to tell them they are to never tread on you again.
10. Don't Blame Yourself
The bully’s actions are in no way, shape or form your fault. At some point in their lives, their minds were conditioned to behave in a way that is harmful to others in order to feel better about themselves. As unfortunate and sad as this is, their abuse is nothing of your wrongdoing. Understand that you are the bigger person for avoiding additional negativity and conflict.
To end, if you're dealing with bullies as an adult, you aren't alone. Many of us deal with these toxic people and it's them – not you. Visit StopBullying.gov to more anti-bullying resources.
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