The vast majority of people are nice, decent people. When dealing with most people, it is fair to assume the principle of charity – that is that everyone means well. If something goes wrong in your interaction with them, the odds are it is a misunderstanding and a bit more communication, time, patience and effort will go a long way to resolving and fixing that.
While it is fair to say that most people are statistically likely to be nice, there is also the real likelihood that you will come across someone who isn’t, or even a group of people who are not nice.
The vast majority of us have experienced bullies and bullying at some point in our lives. And while this makes each of us an expert in our own experience of bullies, it frequently doesn’t actually give us the low down in what bullying is actually about and what to do about it. This often leads to poor solutions and recommendations when helping others.
I’m going to cover how to tell if you have a bully on your hands, what kind of abusive person it is, and depending on your circumstances, some of what you can do about it.
Bullies try to push you in various ways for their own benefit. At a low scale, this is a very human thing to do – I’d rather you did things my way, but I’m okay to negotiate with you about that. I’m happy to have an outcome that benefits both of us, but I don’t want that outcome to cost me if I can avoid it.
For an abusive person, that negative effect, that bad outcome, is not as big a factor for them. At the worst scale, the negative effect on you is part of the point of their want.
There are a few concepts that are useful to consider regarding bullies
Are they actually bullies, or are they having a bad day?
When we humans have bad days, we are less likely to negotiate well, or be as considerate in our negotiation with another person about what we want and how we want it. This can result in someone getting hurt. When a person pushes you like this and it is rare, it is better to charitably consider that they are having a bad day rather than that they are a regular bully.
That does not mean you have to accept their poor behaviour. You have the right to tell them to stop, and say no to the situation and point out their harmful effect it is having on you. If you want to help them and have the resources to do so, ask them if they are having a bad day and seek to support them to have a better day, or address the thing that is stressing them. As a general principle though, try to avoid giving them the thing they want that is causing you harm.
While everyone has the right to a bad day, they do not have the right to harm you.
A person who is genuinely having a bad day will apologise once they have realised the harm they have done and have calmed down a bit.
We begin to consider that you are having a problem with a bully when the problems repeat with some regularity, even if the specifics of that repetition is different – that is, the method may change, but the harm is similar from one individual or group.
Is this accidental bullying?
At a low level of bullying, a person may not know that they are causing you discomfort, or know how not to get what they need without hurting you. This is often a result of ignorance, bad habits or possibly a clash of cultures – where one culture is more sensitive to nuance and another is more direct in communication.
These kinds of bullies are often receptive to change and worth re-educating. Highlighting the negative effect these actions are having on you and giving an appropriate better way will often help people in this category to choose better options. Clear communication and a desire to look at how they can change are key ways to finding better solutions.
Do they have the insight to comprehend that their actions are hurting others?
Some people are oblivious to the consequences of their actions. A lack of insight can occur if a person is very young, or has some specific cognitive neurological mental problem. When a person lacks insight, they can have repetitive behaviours that result in repetitive harm. Sometimes retraining them is possible, but frequently avoidance is a solution. If this person is a guardian of you, or a child of your or some other dependent, seek some professional help to find specific solutions to this kind of problem.
Are you just in the way or is this predatory bullying?
If the bullying is not accidental, then it is on purpose. That has a new metric – non-directed or directed. Non directed is where any person will do as the victim, while directed means it is against you.
Each will require their own method of handling, and this is some of what we will handle in the future.
Is this cyclic abuse, such as Intimate or Domestic Violence?
While often found in family situations, this kind of violence can exist anytime a relationship exists where someone feels they can’t get out.
This can be at work, in a prison, a school and so on. We will also look into this in the future.