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How to Handle A Bully? You Need To Stun Gun the Meanie

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Empower yourself with confidence. Learn to handle mean people

 

Every so often, we meet people who make comments and we are stunned to the extent that we don’t know how to respond. It could be a simple remark about your attire or even a derogatory comment.

Stumped in the moment, have you ever rewound the situation after the event and played out what you could have said or how you could have acted?

Bullies or meanies, as I like to call them are essentially cowards or folks trying to raise their own self esteem by putting others down.

I remember as a kindergartner in New York, there was a meanie in my class. The good news was that she bullied everyone; the bad news was that I got more than my fair share of nasty hurtful comments. 

None of the parents took our complaints seriously since Stacy (I have changed the name) was absolutely angelic when the parents were around and in fact she had a wonderful mother who in spite of being a working mother helped out at the kiddie events the school organized for us.

On one occasion things got out of hand and I turned to my father whom I considered an authority.

Instead of promising to talk to the class teacher, he told me I had to learn to stand up for myself and suggested I first find out from her why I was being given the special treatment. 

It took tremendous courage on my part but the next time she hit out at me, with great trepidation, I asked her, “What is it about me that you don’t like?”

Stacy the bully was stumped and ran off blustering incoherent words.

We did talk later about the root cause of her particular attention to me. Her parents were divorced and she only met her father for a few days during the holidays. Her anger against me was because my father dropped me off to school every morning. 

When I told her that my father was a busy person and that the morning walk to school was the only time I really saw him during the week as I was in bed by the time he returned, melted her a bit.

The happy ending to this story was that she targeted another kid and left me alone. 

 

3 questions guaranteed to stun the bully

 

3 questions guaranteed to confuse a bully

 

Looking back, that was a lesson in assertiveness for me.  Very often, by asking for a clarification, it forces the aggressor to back off while buying you time to think of an assertive response.  It is a far better technique than becoming defensive or crying.

So calmly ask the person who makes a derogatory remark

“What is it about my suggestion/idea/comment that you find ridiculous?’

“Can you tell me what it is about me that you find unacceptable?

“What is it about me that you don’t like?”

If the other person is targeting you to vent their frustrations, they will have to think twice.

Quite possibly, there is something in your behavior that is upsetting them and they are having trouble being articulate. This might be the beginning of clarification and change of behavior; theirs, yours or even both.

In my experience, the inability to handle mean people or bullies is often a reflection of lack of confidence in ourselves.

That’s where my Kindle book Self Confidence in 8 Steps is a valuable resource to help you build your self-esteem and confidence (learn more here).

 

 

Ever had to deal with a meanie? How did you approach the situation?

 

 

PS. Emotionally Intelligent People don’t bully others. They possess 10 traits that help them stand out from others.

Find out if you have them with this free checklist.

 

Karmic Ally Coaching 10 Emotional Intelligence Traits

 

 

This post was originally published in May 2012 and has been updated in October  2018 for relevance and value to the reader.

Written by: Vatsala Shukla
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19 Responses to “How to Handle A Bully? You Need To Stun Gun the Meanie”

  1. An important post for all ages to be thoughtful about and, where needed, speak new words.

  2. Appreciating your transparent story of something so tender. You offer some solid suggestions and I’m absorbing while reflecting on a current situation of a bully–this time a month ago in my college’s alumnae FB group.

    I processed the stream of events and wrote about it in a blog post and would welcome your thoughts. It’s on my site, http://www.LoreRaymond.com titled, “Abuse, Betrayal, and Mean Girls at 62.” (Can’t post a link here or I would.)

  3. I love this blog and the idea to stump the bully with a direct question! I used to tell my daughters to love bomb the bullies and that worked more or less, in supporting my daughters in staying aligned with who they wanted to be. Like Michelle Obama used to say when they go low, we stay high. But I like your direct question and plan to use that in the future. It is amazing how bullying is not outgrown in school and I still encounter people who use bully tactics. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and insight!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I love the idea of a love bomb, Kelley. I have tried the ‘killing with kindness’ tactic as well. Sometimes, it works and I call that a mini miracle. 🙂

  4. Leila says:

    I love those questions, they will really stun a bully.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. Vatsala, This is such a wonderful post! I will be sharing with my nieces who go to junior high school in New York. Great questions! Thank you!

  6. Rachel Kieffer says:

    I too had a school bullying experience, 2 older boys who were terrorizing and bullying me and my cousin, my dad took care of them swiftly. When my son experience the ‘meanies’ we usually talk about what happened and decide together on a course of action, does he want me to confront them/their mom, talk to a teacher or stand up for himself? One thing that i learned is that it is ok to have a delayed reaction, sometimes I am so stunned that I can’t think of anything to say at the moment, but I will go back to the person/situation later with a proper response.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      You are right, Rachel. A delayed reaction is sometimes better because a reaction in the moment can often lead to burned bridges and the entire episode turning on us instead of the bully who can feign being the victim.

  7. I always figure that someone must be hurting pretty badly inside to be so mean on the outside. Calling them on it is a great way to stop the bad behavior in its tracks.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      My father used to say the same thing Barb, though I didn’t believe him back then. Bullies are cowards and the best way is to call them out on it. It’s something they wouldn’t expect their victim to do.

  8. Useful tips, for whatever age we may be when we encounter bullies. In some ways the up front “meanies” are easier to easier when it comes to choosing a response. I have felt more distress as an adult with the passive aggressive meanies who will not openly confront, or respond. Meanness is unfortunately not confined to the playground.

  9. I fully believe communication is key. I’m sorry to hear that she went off and bullied someone else. It is the root cause of others that creates violence and harm in our world. I always pray for those root causes to heal. It is important for us as part of society to speak up. Yes you are correct. We all need the self confidence to do so. We all need to do our part. It is important to find ways to stop harm in this world.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Hopefully someone would have put an end to the bullying, Heather. Like yourself, I often pray for the people who hurt me that they stop alienating themselves from others. It’s bad Karma.

  10. I love how you have handled this topic Vatsala. Ever so often, the most confident of us can fall prey to the bully…so THIS post is gold! Thank you!
    xoxo, Z~

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