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How to Deal with Bullies: 13 Grownup Ways to Confront Mean People

Bullies have been around forever, and they’re only getting worse since they can now do it in cyberspace. Here are tips for how to deal with bullies.

how to deal with bullies

It’s every person’s nightmare… having to deal with a bully. They make everyone’s life just downright miserable. And whether you’re a kid on a playground, or having to deal with a bully in the workplace, they are just plain annoying.

Characteristics of a bully

We’ve all experienced bullies, but what exactly makes someone a bully? Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of a bully so we can learn more about how to deal with bullies.

#1 Aggressive with words or actions. Bullies like to pick fights – either with words or actions. Everyone gets upset, but bullies take this anger to a whole new level. They don’t really know how to control what they say or do.

#2 Angry. Bullies act the way they do because they have some deep-seeded anger. It could be that their parents treated them badly, and so anger is the only they know. But wherever it came from, they have anger in their hearts.

#3 Wants to be in control. They view giving up control as a loss of power. And this, in turn, affects their self-esteem. They have to be in control of other people in all situations. At all times.

#4 Has no empathy. Bullies don’t care if they hurt other people’s feelings. They don’t know that their words and actions have a negative impact on their victims, and even if they did, they couldn’t care less. [Read: 21 big signs of emotional abuse that you may be overlooking]

#5 Doesn’t follow rules. They think the rules just simply don’t apply to them. They may not even be aware of what the rules even are! But the people around them notice that they break rules all the time. Again, they just don’t care.

How to deal with bullies – The tips you need to know

No one ever teaches us how to deal with the bullies in our lives. Parents don’t usually teach their children how to stand up to a bully, and we’ve certainly never learned how to handle one in our workplaces with grace. So here are some tips for how to deal with bullies.

#1 Remember, it’s not you… it’s them. The reason a lot of people have trouble with bullies is because they believe what the bully says when they criticize them.

They might say you’re stupid, fat, or ugly. But does that mean it’s true? Of course not! The bully is lashing out at you because you let them.

There is nothing wrong with you. But bullies want you to think the problem is YOU, and not them. The reason for that is because they can’t look at themselves and admit their shortcomings. So, they focus their negative attention on other people. [Read: The mean girl – 25 traits to recognize so you can stay clear of her]

#2 And also remember… what they say and do is a reflection of how they see themselves. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” People who feel good about themselves don’t have the need to tear down other people. Instead, they treat others with kindness and respect. But bullies don’t love themselves. They may say they do, but they don’t.

They really hate themselves, so they think it’ll make them feel better to tear other people down so they can be on the same level. So, at the core of bullying is the bully’s own poor self-esteem. Always remember this when you want to know how to deal with bullies. [Read: How to build self-confidence – 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]

#3 Ignore them. Bullies get off on having you engage in their drama. If they make you cry, or yell, or if you’re visibly upset, they love it. That’s the point of it all! They want to make you miserable. So, if you ignore them, then they hate it! It’s like you’re refusing to play the game with them.

They won’t even know what to do with themselves if you don’t play into their game. They like people who are victims and are hurt easily because they’re “easy targets.” But if you ignore them and pretend like they don’t exist, eventually they’ll go find someone else to bully.

#4 Talk back to them. Another alternative in addition to ignoring them is to talk back and stand up for yourself. Bullies hate when you push back. As I stated earlier, they like victims who crumble easily.

It’s not a challenge for them when their victims fall right into their trap. But if you defend yourself verbally or physically, they won’t know what to do with you. You’ll be way too much effort for them to bully, because you don’t let them. So again, eventually they’ll stop and move on to someone else. [Read: How to stand up for yourself – Get what you want and deserve]

#5 Compliment them. Huh? Compliment them? Am I nuts?! No, I’m not. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m betting that no one ever compliments bullies because there is no reason to. But even if it’s a “Hey, I like the shirt you’re wearing today,” or “Your hairstyle is pretty cool,” they won’t know what to do.

Basically, if you want to know how to deal with bullies the right way, learn to disarm them with kindness. If you’re nice to them, they get confused. They always expect people to hate them, so when someone reacts the opposite way, they don’t find it fun anymore. Plus, it’s always the mean people who really need the most love, right?

#6 Befriend them. If you go on complimenting them and saying nice things, their cold outer exterior may eventually melt. They might finally think that they are worthy of someone being kind to them. If that’s the case, they might actually start to be nice to you as well.

So, you can become their “friend.” I’m not saying you have to be BFFs with them, but if they respect and like you, maybe you can help them change their ways. And then in an ideal world, they won’t bully anyone ever again. [Read: 14 calm ways to recognize and deal with mean people]

#7 Don’t blame yourself. Victims are never, ever to blame. Let me repeat – victims are never, EVER to blame! Don’t ever forget that. It’s not something you said or did. Or something you didn’t say or do. It’s not because you’re too fat, or too ugly, or too dumb.

It’s because the bully is a sad person. They feel unlovable and powerless. That’s why they treat you that way. It is NOT your fault. [Read: 18 ways to have high self-esteem and start winning in life]

#8 Protect other victims. Maybe you’re not the victim of a bully, but you know someone who is. You should still stand up and protect them as well. The more people who stand up to a bully, the better. As you know, there is safety in numbers.

So just because you might not be the victim of a bully, that doesn’t mean you should stand on the sidelines and watch other people get hurt. Step up to the plate and do the right thing by protecting everyone you can.

[Read: Do you feel emotionally drained? 15 reasons and cures]

Let’s face it – the world will never be bully-free. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. But if you follow these tips for how to deal with bullies, at least life will be just a little happier for all.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...