When we think of bullying, usually kids on a playground or teens using social media platforms come to mind, not adult neighbors or coworkers in a conference room. However, the young bullies of yesterday can (and do) turn into the adult bullies of tomorrow. According to recent data, adult bullying is on the rise: In a 2012 survey of workers, 65 percent of American participants reported being bullied at their jobs, and adult bullying also happens online and among social circles as well. Recently several friends confided in me about their own experiences with bullying, and having been on the receiving end myself a time or two, I could relate. Although the circumstances were different in all of our situations, we all felt the same way when it happened: helpless. But we realized that even though we couldn’t control the bullies’ actions, we could control the way we reacted. I’ve found that the below three tactics can help you rise above the situation and come out unscathed. If you find you’ve fallen victim to this common problem, try these tips to help you maintain your cool and take control:
1. Don’t feed the beast. According to anti-bullying expert Joel Haber, Ph.D., what bullies want is support from peers, friends, and family. There have to be two sides in order for people to take one. So if a bully tries to instigate an exchange of any kind, don’t take the bait.
2. Know yourself. What someone else says about you doesn’t make it true. Not too long ago someone in my neighborhood said something about me that wasn’t very nice, and on top of that, it was completely untrue. It was so far-fetched that when I found out about it, I laughed out loud. Anyone who would believe such nonsense without bothering to ask me whether it was true isn’t anyone I’d want to be friends with anyway. My opinion of myself is the only one that really matters to me.
3. Give it time. When a bully lashes out, it isn’t a reflection of the person they’re picking on—it’s a reflection on them. In time, people will see the bully for who they are. Until then, just go about your business as usual. That way, people will see you for who you really are too: someone who doesn’t take any crap because you know how to rise above it.
By Susan Campbell Cross.
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