How to Stop A Bully
How to Be Nice to a Bully
Bullying can be a problem in any community: in a school, in the workplace, even online. Often times, the behavior of the bully is a reflection of their own insecurities and is not due to any flaw of your own. Though this unkindness can be overwhelming and harmful, through a conscious effort, you can overcome nearly any bully and even find ways to demonstrate kindness to them.
Managing Your Interactions with the Bully
Never counter attack.The bully is looking to control you by forcing you to react to their meanness. Giving in means that they have won. Don’t allow a bully to affect you so much that you become a bully yourself.
- Take a moment to step back from the situation emotionally. Count to ten in your head if you need to in order to calm down and prevent reacting negatively.
Be positive when they are negative.Cancel out something hateful that a bully says with something positive. This will throw the bully off of their game as they are not likely to have ever experienced this kind of positivity after they say something unkind. If they find that their bullying is unsuccessful in making you feel bad, they will likely retreat.
- For instance, if the bully says something negative to you about your shoes, you can say something like “Oh wow, I’m sorry you don’t like them because I love them! These are my favorites! I got them on a really good sale.”
- If the bully makes a sarcastic, fake compliment, thank them. This will throw them off as well.
Distance yourself from the bully.Sometimes removing yourself from the possibility of an interaction with a bully can help. Try taking a different route, or making sure you’re not alone with the bully.
Stick up for yourself politely.Just because you want to be nice to a bully doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. A bully is more likely to show kindness to someone they respect, and if you allow yourself to be treated unkindly with no pushback, the bullying will likely progress.
- Redirect the focus away from the insult and onto the attacker, without bullying back, with a brief response such as "Why do you say that?"
- Prepare and practice your responses. Come up with some responses and practice saying them in the mirror when you are home.Do some role playing of the kinds of situations that might come up. Practicing makes you more comfortable when you need to do it in a real situation.
Assert yourself but don’t be aggressive.This establishes boundaries to appropriate behavior. Part of working out a bullying relationship is setting these limits. Being verbally assertive helps communicate these bounds. And making these limits explicit can help change the conscience of both the bully and others watching.
- Assert yourself with words such as: “Please stop that.” “It’s my turn.” “Please don’t touch.” “It’s not okay to do that.”
Document the bullying.Write down everything. Record what happened: when, where, how, and who was there. Enter it in your journal or diary; print out material from online bullying. This is important if you want to have a logical conversation with the bully or be able to demonstrate to an authority figure what has been happening.
Take a different perspective.Rather than thinking of them as a “bully” and you as a “victim,” think instead on their action in an isolated way. Think to yourself “this is one action out of one million that they will take today” rather than allowing that one act to define who they are and how you think of them. Instead of thinking of the person as a “bully” consider their actions as an “act of bullying.”
- Just as you are not the sum of all of the worst things that you have done or said, your bully is not either. Do your best to separate the person from the bad things that they do.
Showing Kindness to the Bully
Reflect on what you know about the bully.Understanding the bully will allow you to respond more appropriately to their actions. Consider the information that you have about the bully like their age, educational background, family, home, and job. More often than not, a bully comes from a family or a home where they are also being bullied and they respond by releasing their pent up hurt and anger on others.
- Remember that hurt people hurt people. Your bully is probably dealing with emotional issues that they do not know how to handle. This can be the first step in you developing empathy for them.
- You do not need to invest a lot of time in finding out this information; sometimes the information we already have is telling enough.
Don’t judge the bully.When someone is rude and unkind, it can be easy to judge them for their faults. Instead, focus on not critiquing them for these inadequacies, but instead practicing empathy and compassion in dealing with them.Consider the ways you too may have been rude or hateful to others in the past not as a way to excuse the bully for their actions, but as a way to relate to them.
- Show your bully the kindness you want them to show to you. Respond nicely and with compassion even when they are rude to you.The bully may be very unaccustomed to people being nice to them, so show them the kindness missing in their life.
- If the bully always does something like closing the door in your face, open the door for them. These small acts of kindness add up and teach the bully how to treat you and others.
- Greet your bully with a smile and a “hello” each day that you see them. They will marvel at your continued positivity and joy.
Consider your similarities.There are few people on this Earth who are singularly evil or unkind. Ponder the things that you and the bully may have in common to allow you to further develop compassion for them. This will make it easier for you to be kind.
Put yourself in their shoes.True kindness and empathy often stem from being able to understand a person’s perspective. If you know that your bully has faced bullying in their life also, this could explain their negative actions towards you. Your bully may also be dealing with a difficult personal situation that is causing them to lash out at you. This does not make their actions okay by any means, but it can help to inform your responses to them.
Invite the bully into activities and conversations.Including the bully can help to build relationships and relating skills. Ask them to help you with something or pick them to be on your team.Keep working towards changing the bully relationship into an appropriate and productive relationship. This can take time, but to stop bullying, we all need to work together to encourage healthy relationships and civil communities.
Defend the bully if they are being mistreated.If you see your bully being spoken to in a way that is rude, approach the situation and calmly intervene. You can tell the person doing the bullying that you don’t think what they’re doing is right in very subtle ways by saying something like “Not cool at all” to the person being mean and by asking your bully if they’re okay or want to talk.
Help the bully if you see them struggling.You may see your bully struggling to lift a heavy box or having difficulty carrying a lot of items; help them. They will likely remember all the times that they treated you unfairly and begin to feel remorse.
Coping with the Bully
Remain calm.Bullies are often looking for an emotional response, so it helps if you avoid bringing emotion into your response. You can protect your feelings from hurtful insults by ignoring the unkindness or by using positive self-talk.
- Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can help you maintain your cool in tense situations.
- Another way to remain calm is to reflect back on a time when you felt happy or at peace. It can be helpful to think back on a recent beach trip or moment with friends to recenter yourself back to positivity.
Practice positive self-talk.Often times, a bully is hurling so much negativity towards you that it can be difficult to think positively about yourself. It is important that you don’t let yourself get trapped by the message of the bully and that instead you develop positive messages about yourself. If a bully is constantly telling you that you are ugly, try looking in the mirror at yourself every morning and night and repeating something like “I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worthy” to yourself repeatedly until you begin to acknowledge that it is true.
- Remember that the message of the bully is an opinion. How you feel about yourself is most important.
- Meditate in the mornings and at night before work or school. Meditate on principles of positivity and thankfulness. These messages will give you strength as you start your day.
Find a supportive community.Though the bully may count for one of your interactions in your daily life, make sure that they are not the only. Surround yourself with positive and affirming people who will lift you up so much that the bullying will begin to affect you less and less.
- Seek community at church, with your current friends, with family, and with others that you trust. You never know if someone you speak to has been bullied before and may be able to give you advice on how to handle it with grace, respect, and kindness.
Practice self-care.Being kind to others is intertwined with showing kindness to yourself. Take time to yourself when you are alone to do things that you enjoy like reading, watching films, or exercising. These things can often get the bullying off of your mind and help transport you back to a place of joy and positivity, despite the bully’s actions.
- Remember that you can’t help others unless you are good to yourself first.
Talk to someone you trust.You may find the the bully can overwhelm you. If you feel that you are becoming depressed, seek out help from your family and friends. You may find it necessary to seek the help of a therapist. There is no stigma in reaching out for help when you need it!
- Remember that you have to take care of yourself first. Don’t be so focused on showing kindness to your bully that you forget to show kindness to yourself.
- Seek help if needed; speak to your teacher, coworker, or boss if your bully intensifies their aggression towards you.
- A person who is bullying you or someone else is only one person; they represent one opinion out of the billions of people who live on this earth. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, their opinion is rather unimportant. Think of an insult as simply an expression of someone’s opinion, an opinion you don’t have to agree with. Realize that this is the bully’s issue, a problem with their own morals and values and not a problem with you.
Video: Nobody Likes a Bully - How to Stop Bullying in Schools - Deal with Bullies - Why Do I Bully Prevent
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