You know that you will have to overcome obstacles to get what you want. You understand that nothing worth doing is ever easy. But, what do you do when the opposition is stronger than you expected? How do you handle bullying and oppression?
This Isn’t School
When you were in school you had two choices for dealing with a bully. You could tell a teacher or you could punch the bully in the face and deal with the consequences. But, you’re not in school anymore. There are no teachers. Punching someone in the face is satisfying, but comes now comes with major consequences, like going to jail.
Most adult bullies don’t use physical threats. They oppress you by playing mental games. They may try and wreak havoc with your career or try and get send you into a crippling depression. The bullies you face as an adult are often coworkers or even your own family members. Before you can deal with them you need to understand how they think.
Bullies are master manipulators. If someone has gotten to adulthood and is still a bully, you know they are seriously screwed up. Bullies project strength. They want to make you afraid. They want to control your actions. But, the truth is bullies are weak. They are afraid. They act out of a desperate anxiety that they will be exposed as incompetent or stupid. They work so hard to keep you down because they are afraid you will supplant them.
Bullies work hard to make it appear to others that they are reasonable. They want to make their victims out to be unstable or unable to take a joke. Bullies are trying to bluff you into compliance and subservience.
This doesn’t mean that bullies don’t have real power. Often the worst bullies do have some type of authority or influence over your life or career. But, they are not truly operating from a position of strength. They are operating from a position of fear and emotional weakness. Acting like a bully is part of an illusion. Bullies are con men.
The bad news is that adult bullies are skilled at running their cons. The good news is that once you understand their weakness you can defeat them.
Strategies for Overcoming Bullies
One of the best ways to defeat a bully is the same method your dad tried to teach you when you were in school. Stand up for yourself. Call the bully out. Most bullies don’t have the guts for a fight. Few want to publicly expose themselves. While you cannot challenge a coworker to a fight after school, you can call them out in a meeting on their inappropriate actions. The key is to stay calm when confronting a bully. It scares bullies to see a cool steely-eyed opponent.
If confrontation is not practical in your situation you need to go around your bully. Workplace bullies often act as gatekeepers. They are trying to keep you from advancing. You need to gain some allies. There is always another way to get things done. Ignore the bully. Take a different route to your goal. Talk to people off of the record. Use the informal power structure of your workplace. For example, if a bully refuses to pass on your good ideas to the supervisor, submit them yourself. Don’t even bring up the fact that someone was blocking you. Superiors will recognize a good idea and won’t care that it did not come up the chain of command.
Bullies are a part of life. But, they only have power over you to the extent you empower them. Think of bullies as emotional vampires. They feed on your fear. If you stop being afraid they will starve to death.