Today’s a good day to think about bullies. We’ve been dealing with bullies as a country for a while now, and I’ve had to deal with some of it myself in the past week or two. That’s lead to a lot of introspection on my part about how the way I’ve dealt with bullying in my personal life.
The Important Part
I’m gonna cut to the chase here.
The only way to deal with a bully is to deny them attention.
What bullies, mansplainers (of all gender preferences), egotistical folks, people with hero complexes, and others like them want is for the focus to always be on themselves. That’s why they feel compelled to spend your valuable time telling you how they want you to behave, explaining how things you are already familiar with work, and engaging in passive-aggressive (and plain ole aggressive behavior). All this makes people focus on them.
When I find myself having to repeatedly justify myself, feel pressured to do things I’m not comfortable doing, or endure subtle put-downs, I’ve learned to say, “Ah ha, I’m dealing with a bully!”
In my distant past, I would feel sorry for them and try to appease or educate them. I’d apologize when a bully told me my interpretation of what they said was in no way meant the way it comes across, because they’d NEVER do that. I’d think, hmm, maybe my direct experiences were biases and not true. I don’t do that now.
When goaded and prodded into finally losing my temper and making an unfortunate choice of words, I’d feel awful, seeing them whine about how much I hurt their precious feelings in such an unwarranted and unprovoked fashion. They can dish it out, but they just don’t seem to be able to take it.
Well, that’s a load of bull poop.
All those reactions of mine were giving bullies the attention they craved. I was giving them license to poke and prod at me, question my competence, to talk about me behind my back, and to tear me down in order to build up their fragile egos.
Notice to Past, Present, and Future Bullies
I’m not playing your game. I’ll give you a chance or two, in case I’ve misinterpreted your behavior, but I know when I see bullying and abuse. When I’m done with you, I’m done. I’m not going to interact with you in the future. I do not owe you an explanation. I’m not interested in pointing out if you’re about to screw up; you can deal with your own consequences.
If you’re someone in power, I’ll stop supporting you. If I work with you, I’ll leave the position or wait it out until you lose yours. If you’re a family member, future contact will be on my terms.
And oh yeah, I’ll keep ignoring you until you realize I’m not giving you attention and I no longer stoking your ego’s needs.
I do my best to be kind, to treat others as I would like to be treated, and to listen to other people’s points of view. The exceptions are bullies and abusers. Once I recognize the tell-tale signs it’s starting up, you lose a target. No, I won’t feel guilty for hurting your feelings or upsetting your minions. I value my peace and sanity more.
Anyway, I enjoyed the inauguration today.