Bullies

What is the best way to deal with bullies, when you are in a grown up environment? At the schools we send our kids to, we are all told there is zero tolerance for bullying, any child that bullies another will face major consequences.

But what about the grown-up world? What consequences do the bullies face? I was recently verbally bullied by someone who is supposed to know better. I was subjected to the most horrible string of invectives and slights on my character (or lack thereof, according to this person). Because this was a person in a position of authority, I felt unable to fight fire with fire. I unfortunately needed something from this individual, and he was the only one with the power to grant it to me. I have never been spoken to in such a disgusting and loud manner. I have never had someone question my integrity as a person, as a wife, as a mother, as a Jew, all in one screamed breath. I was horrified at being spoken to with such obvious disregard, and frustrated that I was unable to defend myself throughout this diatribe as every time I opened my mouth to speak I was yelled at.

I wish I could go into specifics, but I cannot, I have to protect the guilty. But I do want to know, if you would have been in a similar situation, how would you have handled it? What is the best way to stand up to bullies? If no one stands up to them how are they ever going to learn that they are wrong? Can they ever learn that this is not the way to behave?

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  1. Mark says:

    As an adult (and even as a kid sometimes), you often have to just bite your tongue and keep your silence because speaking up will just cause you harm (or additional harm). Inside you always hope that the bully “gets theirs” someday, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

  2. Rabbi's Wife says:

    Mostly it is usually best to simply be mochel on your Kavod, take it, don’t let it bother you and simply walk away. I have dealt with it on numerous occasions, for me it is part of being a B”T and walking in the circles that I walk in. With a child being a bully is about having an inferiority complex and thus acting out to feel superior(my old Psychologist self coming to the surface), and can be handled differently. With an adult it is a superiority complex of some sort that is manifesting, and really nothing you can do will have change that. Even if you are somehow able to bring thunder down from on high, they are going to think that you wronged them.

    Aside from that you can trust only in the justice of HaShem. The Hafetz Haim tells a story of a man who bullied a widow and her child. He said that for close to two decades he wondered where was HaShem’s justice. Then the man was bit by a rabid dog and shortly after died howling like a dog himself. The Hafetz Haim writes that on that day, he knew that HaShem’s justice was sure. So trust in that, as there is really nothing else that you can do.

  3. Shoshana says:

    I have found that standing up to bullies and telling them “You can’t speak to me like that” and either hanging up the phone or walking away ( admittedly much easier on the phone) has actually gotten me an apology when the bully comes to his senses.

  4. Z! says:

    I would look them in the eye. Not say a word. Complain to my hubby afterwards and have them take care of it!

  5. A tough call – to answer this one! I think there are two things that will absolutely demoralize the bullying party and make you feel really good about yourself. This technique is easy to say but hard to do in the real time. Practice, Practice, Practice – on your kids, your partner, your good friends, who will understand :)

    Here how it goes:
    1) Take a deep breath counting to 10. Really, you have to count while taking a breath otherwise you suffer over-ventilatinon.
    2) Put a big, welcoming smile on your face (this is the hardest part – practice in front of the mirror)
    3) Say “thank you for giving me this valuable feedback that I could learn from” – Remove all sarcasm that you could possible put here – you have to appear completely honest and humble.
    4) When the other party tries to digest this, smack with another one: “Is there anything I could do for you? I truly believe we could make good friends!” (while thinking: “I am gonna put you in the insane asylum, bitch! And pull your nails one by one!”)

  6. frumgoth says:

    “Kill ‘em with kindness”. I have experienced a few incidents like this and when it involved a person I had to deal with on an ongoing basis, I acted in a very friendly manner (although it was difficult after being treated disrespectfully by them). We eventually got to know each other and developed a very nice working relationship.

  7. VeredRoyz says:

    BS”D

    It is a really hard question. I was bullied my whole time in school by my (so called) classmates and teachers. My mother taught me never to show them how sad I became by their words and actions. I do not know if it is the right way to go but maybe for me who is a very emotional person.

  8. Adam says:

    This incident sets a bad precedent. But-
    you can’t go back in time and change what’s happened. Take the lesson, and move forward. Here’s how:

    * Ask yourself how badly you need that job. If you’re desperate, you may need to bite back the bile until you can line something else up. If you aren’t desperate, you’re free to tell the guy, “Go p*ss up a rope. I quit.”

    * Keep your cool. Take initiative and go to him. Say, “I don’t know what was behind that personal attack yesterday. I don’t care. Do not ever speak to me like that again”. He may say, “or what?” and you’d better be confident enough to report him to senior management or file a harassment suit.

    * If you’re ever in another situation like that: stay cool, look at him or her like a curious bug, ignore the content of what they’re saying, and direct your response at them personally. As in, “Are you having a tough day?” or “Do you throw tantrums like this at home?”

    I wish you well.

    http://emergingcenter.wordpress.com
    http://www.totalbullysolution.com

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