Bypassing Bullying


We are called to love our neighbors, but some people can make it REALLY difficult. Bullies are probably among the most difficult to love. Let’s explore what bullying is. A simple definition is “one who uses superior strength or power to intimidate people.” As further definition, it is harmful, targeted behavior that can happen in the workplace, at church, in the community or in life, in general. You can even be married to or in a close relationship with a bully! I have seen bullying in action more than I’d like to admit over the years. In my years as a Human Resources leader, I have seen (and personally had) some bullying bosses and team members.

Bullying happens a lot with children, but, in this article, we will focus on adult bullies. You would think that adults would be past bullying others, but many did not change their ways after middle and high school. They take their insecurities into their adult lives and pick on others they view as weak and susceptible.

  • See the human behind the behavior.

I don’t think that people set out to bully others or cause them pain. In most cases, there is probably some underlying reason that is motivating them to act this way. This may often be a result of their own experience and pain. Maybe they were even bullied, and this is their way of dealing with that.

  • Don’t let bullies influence what you think of yourself.

Remember that bullying is their issue, not yours. It shouldn’t impact what you think of yourself in any way.

  • Address bully behavior early on – before you become a long-term target.

Tell the bully to stop the behavior. You can do this by describing the behavior and sharing how it’s impacting you. It is possible that they may not understand the effect that their behavior is having on you, and this may alter their behavior going forward. If they aren’t receptive, at least you tried!

  • Use your body language.

Standing up tall, arms at your side and keeping your nose up can send a message to the bully that you aren’t going to succumb to their behavior.

  • Let them know what behavior you will not put up with in the future.

Stand your ground, and let them know if they cross a line. Walk away if you need to!

If bullying is occurring at work, I would suggest first trying to talk with the other person to let them know how their behavior is impacting you. If this doesn’t work, document the bully’s actions, and escalate to management or HR if you need to.

In conclusion, we will all likely come across a bully at some point in our lives. We can let it impact us negatively, or we can try to be the better person and deal with it in an empathetic way while standing our ground by employing some of the tips above.


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