192 Days ’til 40: Dealing with Adult Bullies

13 Aug

When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless. ~ Chris Colfer

Some people won’t be happy until they’ve pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away. ~Donna Schoenrock

What if the kid you bullied at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only surgeon who could save your life? ~ Lynette Mather

I am all for cracking down on inappropriate digital behaviour. Too often the connected world is an excuse for some coward hiding behind a keyboard to bully someone else. ~ Tony Parsons

Bullying seems to be a part of every culture.  There are varying degrees of bullying and the forms will often differ.  A third grade playground bully will look different from an adult bully.  That said, the underlying behaviors (need for power and control, inability to cope with their own life circumstances, failure to develop the strength to be able to admit their mistakes and grow from the mistakes into new strengths.  Sometimes, in fact, often,  bullies were bullied themselves – though this does not excuse or justify their behavior.

I find that often when adults feel powerless they resort to unhealthy bullying of others within their lives.  For example, when a staff member feels that another staff member has offended them, rather than confront the issue directly, there may be passive aggressive rumors and attacks on the staff member they are not happy with.  If an employee in a store has to tell a customer “no” and they do not like hearing the “no” a litany of verbal harassment (and sometimes physical harassment) can follow.  Of course, the harassment does not actually help the customer get their way, but they are not able to step back and understand that their abusive behavior escalates a situation, rather than deescalates a situation.  They do not understand that their bullying hurts themselves more than anything.

This past week I have observed quite a lot of bullying behaviors.  Sometimes I think it is the brutality of life in this current economic crisis, and sometimes I think it is just the culture that surrounds me.  Either way, I watched employees yelled at and harassed, people screaming and crying, and heard abusive and highly threatening words exchanged.  I also heard lies exchanged back and forth quicker than tennis balls knocked back and forth.  This is all very saddening, very disheartening.

I decided long ago that I would not tolerate bullying behavior – whether at home or work, and whether engaged in by students or adults (it is easier to correct the behavior in students than it is in adults).  I decided that I would stand up to bullying with students and apply consequences to hurtful behaviors.  With adults, I realized that I could let them know, “we do not relate to people in this manner” – I can remind them that yelling and screaming and threats will not be tolerated in our environment.  Ultimately, if you can take the higher ground, the bully loses their power – they try to catch you by surprise, they attempt to get a reaction out of you – if you can hold your ground they are disempowered.  When they realize that they are not going to gain power through intimidation they may get very angry……  do your best to stand firm, when you can (and when it is not dangerous) – it may not be pleasant, but hopefully it will teach the bully a lesson.

Today, 192 days ’til 40, I will continue to stand up to bullies that find their way into my work and social environments.  When I empower myself to stand against bullying I am doing a service for all that interact with that individual.



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23 responses to “192 Days ’til 40: Dealing with Adult Bullies

  1. buckwheatsrisk

    August 13, 2012 at 00:34

    Preach it sista!!!! sounds like you are dealing with narcissists!

  2. walkwiththerabbi

    August 13, 2012 at 00:40

    Sage advice from a special teacher. I alluded to this in some form in my post today, titled “The Day the Earth Cried.” At the end of the day, chock it all up to “ego” and by extension, insanity (which is what the ego is). I’d very much appreciate your “take” on today’s post ( and if you wouldn’t mind – your comments left on the site. Thank you. I appreciate you so much.

    • 400daystil40

      August 13, 2012 at 23:03

      Thank you for the great comment!!!!! 🙂

  3. Long Life Cats and Dogs

    August 13, 2012 at 00:55

    Bullying is such a sign of an insecure person. Someone secure and happy in themselves find no reason to appear stronger or bully another. Good for you for standing up to them

    • 400daystil40

      August 13, 2012 at 23:03

      Yes, I agree with you – and sometimes it is hard to stand up, but you do it anyhow!

  4. The White Pumpkin

    August 13, 2012 at 01:14

    safety is important.

    • 400daystil40

      August 13, 2012 at 23:02


      • The White Pumpkin

        August 13, 2012 at 23:23

        Sometimes I wonder just how safe one can truly be without becoming paranoid in this day and age of the electronic world we tend to live in.

  5. viveka

    August 13, 2012 at 01:45

    Bulling in any form is not acceptable – and I think we are able to do something when it happens around us. It has to do with social courage – and we all have an obligation to do something when it happens around us. Thanks for this post.

    • 400daystil40

      August 13, 2012 at 23:02

      You are correct, I agree completely!

  6. Fortyteen Candles

    August 13, 2012 at 04:24

    Great post, and excellent points.

  7. Capri Montgomery

    August 13, 2012 at 10:18

    If only taking the high road worked with the bully that is working for the property management company we lease through. We have been civil and she always comes back with nasty remarks and threatening statements. I think she’s trying to make us snap and stoop to her level. I so can’t wait until we move so we never have to deal with her again. I know there are other bullies out there, but I’ll still be happy to get rid of this one.

  8. Animalcouriers

    August 13, 2012 at 20:57

    Well done you – if we all did it, there wouldn’t be a bully left.

  9. rabbittandwolf

    August 14, 2012 at 00:15

    As a parent, I often worry about bullying at school from other kids and from my own dear son. I don’t want to believe my son would act in such an inappropriate manner, but as a parent, I need to be aware if he does. Unfortunately, kids, like adults, tend towards the “pack mentality.” Humans are not so removed from “survival of the fittest,” which means, we try to rid ourselves of others who threaten the survival of the pack. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with bullying, but I think it does. Bullying is foremost in our collective thoughts because humanity is evolving; what was once necessary for survival is no longer acceptable behavior.

    • 400daystil40

      August 14, 2012 at 23:26

      This is a worry of mine too. (My kids and bullying) and I do agree, the pack mentality makes it worse (also those that join along because they are happy it is not them that is being picked on.

    • 400daystil40

      August 14, 2012 at 23:26

      This is a worry of mine too. (My kids and bullying) and I do agree, the pack mentality makes it worse (also those that join along because they are happy it is not them that is being picked on.)

  10. knittingwithheart

    August 19, 2012 at 06:39

    You speak wisdom! Bullies don’t seem to realize they’re more unhappy/insecure with themselves than anything else.


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