I’ve been asked a couple of times recently if I experienced much bullying as young person.
The answer to this question is no. Very few kids teased me about the sound of my voice or my coordination. I find this amazing because to me it seems like a kid who talked funny, caught basketballs with his glasses, who was pretty nerdy and sometimes held himself in low esteem would be a prime target of bullies.
As I reflect on the reasons that I wasn’t a target of bullies a number of things come to mind.
First, I knew that I probably won’t fair well in a physical fight and I definitely knew that I had no desire to get hit or kicked. Beyond this, I knew that being called names made me feel rotten, and I wanted to avoid these potential situations. In short, I came to the realization at a young age that I had little interest in negative attention.
Understanding that you have little interest in negative attention and a great interest in positive attention is crucial when you encounter POTENTIAL bullies. As human beings, we naturally tend to want attention from others. Negative attention can thus be very seductive in certain situations. However, positive attention feels so much better, especially in the long run, that I have worked to cultivate a taste for positive attention.
So when I encounter a POTENTIAL bully who might give me negative attention, I respond with one of two approaches, either by avoiding the situation or by trying to alter the situation. I’ve found that the key to effectively using both of these approaches is to take responsibility for my actions and, there by, not let my potential bully manipulate my actions.
Take responsibility by making an effort by staying alert to situations where you could potentially be bullied. This is like defensive driving. Pay attention to when a person begins to get angry or act negatively towards you. When you notice this, you can either leave the situation or try to alter the situation.
If you choose to leave the situation, make an effort to do this both politely and rapidly. You want to leave the situation rapidly so that the situation doesn’t escalate. And you want to be polite as you leave so that the potential bully is less likely to follow you and less likely to be angry with you if you encounter them in the future.
If you choose to stay and try to alter the situation, your first step is to set boundaries by ignoring the negative behavior. This can be very hard to do because negative behavior can make us angry and fill us with the desire to defend ourselves or fight back.
But such responses only feed the POTENTIAL bully’s fire. So do everything in your power to ignore the situation.
As you ignore the situation, attempt to alter the situation by initiating a positive interaction. This can be a simple as being silent and smiling. Or you can attempt to get your POTENTIAL bully talking about what they love to do. I found that people often naturally feel like being friendly when they are talking about what they love to do.
If your attempts to set boundaries and alter the situation don’t help the POTENTIAL bully start to interact with you in a more positive manner and even to start to see you as a POTENTIAL friend, politely leave the situation. It’s not your responsibility to continue to interact with people who do not treat you in a positive manner.
Game of the Day
What are you going to do the next time you encounter a POTENTIAL bully?