Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Take Down a Bully

Bullying takes on many forms, physical for sure, but there are also verbal forms of bullying. Here’s where I give you the golden ticket on how to win a verbal skirmish you might find yourself in. We’ve all been there. Someone has put you in the crosshairs and started attacking your person with distasteful comments. The following prescription, when followed correctly, should save you the unfortunate fate of public ridicule. Keep in mind I developed this as a defense mechanism out of necessity. I had to come up with a system that would put people off, or at least serve as a deterrent from screwing with me during my obnoxiously awkward teenage years. I was so awkward and nerdy that I made other, lesser nerdy people look not nerdy. I was therefore, an easy target. Those guys from the Big Bang Theory? Yeah, those are my homies.

One thing that I’ve learned to be overwhelmingly true is that people who are hurting, go out of their way to hurt other people, so at least they aren’t alone. Bullying stems from insecurity. These people should be pitied. I highly encourage you to not go after people because you can, or because you’re trying to “teach someone a lesson”, that’s a lie that you tell yourself to make yourself feel better for being needlessly cruel. Treat your words like you would a gun. Don’t shoot your mouth off simply because you can. It’s reckless, ridiculous, and will probably end up blowing up in your face. That said, my sister used to call me “the pit viper” when we were growing up, and I look back at those moments fondly. I didn’t go looking for fights, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t figuratively armed to the teeth. I did it because I knew that if I didn’t stand up for myself, that I’d be bullied for the rest of my life. So I made the list. I carried a list of intricately worded and extremely vulgar insults in my wallet for the occasion when I could publicly napalm those bastards with insults and put-downs. I never needed to pull it from my back pocket. I had that shit committed to memory. I’ve since graduated from university with a degree in Communication Studies, and here’s a smidgeon of what I’ve learned.
1)Do not lose your cool. This is the cardinal rule of confrontation. Picture the most revered and effective killers. The truly effective ones are the ones that are cold-blooded, methodical killers who do it without fear or emotion. Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men", The Terminator, Ninjas, Cobras, Sharks, these are your role models here. The reason this is rule number 1 is because even if you are triumphant in the rhetoric portion of this encounter, if you transform into to rage-fueled maniac on the verge of turning green and throwing furniture, you’ve lost. It’s that simple. Cool as a cucumber, baby…that’s you.
2) If you did it, OWN IT! If you are accused of something and you did it, own it. Own it without shame, unblinkingly, and with pride. What is going on here is an attempt to shame you. If you remove the shame from the accusation and own it, then you have disarmed the accuser. For whatever reason, you found it appropriate to do the thing that you were accused of at some point, so own it. Example, if Bill Clinton had simply fessed-up to the BJ when he was asked about it the first time, things may have turned out differently. “Not only did I receive oral sex from that woman, but it was really mediocre. On a scale of 1 to 10, I might give her about a four. The effort was there though.” There’s another reason why this tactic is worth using, in this day and age it is almost impossible to conceal the truth. Information is instantaneous, and the juicier the dirt, the more likely it is to find it’s way to the surface. So, if you deny it, and you did it, and it get’s out that you did it; then on top of everything else, you’re a liar too. Most people don’t come back from that. Ask Bill.

3) Name Calling. Name-calling is for cowards and it’s lazy. If you’re going to call me names, why not call me purple? At least by calling me purple the insult would be interesting. Name-calling is simply slapping a label on someone as to how you think they should be classified, and nothing more. Consider the source. For instance, say Rush Limbaugh started calling me names. If Rush Limbaugh being the big fat, drug addict that he is, decided to start throwing labels at me, I can’t think that I’d even be bothered to even marginally care…why? It’s the opinion of a big fat drug addict, he ain’t the Dalai Lama. It’s important to acknowledge one important thing about name-calling, and that is, you never address the comment itself. You attack your accuser. “Oh Rush, maybe if you’d take minute and stop popping those oxycotin like tic-tacs, you’d see that no one gives flying rat’s ass what comes out of that dysenteric blister of a mouth of yours, and you could finally move on with what little life you have left and leave people alone.” See? Go after the accuser.

4) The poisoned arrow. This is complicated but very much worth knowing about. This is a piece of critically damaging information that will sink your opponent’s boat. It’s used in politics all the time. In fact, it’s the holy grail of campaigning and everybody’s looking for it. If you have a poisoned arrow, covet it. This is to be used as purely a defense mechanism. Seeking out a fight to use one makes you just as bad as the bully who’s pushing you around. The ideal way to address this situation is wait for the fight to come to you and make it in a very public place. This won’t be difficult due to the fact that bullies seldom go after people when they’re by themselves. They do it because they’re trying to gain support by their peers. Let me tell you the beauty of poisoned arrows. If you have one, use it. Don’t threaten to use it. Don’t take the high road. Use it and aim for the jugular. Threatening to use a poisoned arrow neutralizes its effectiveness. The first step in disarming a trap, is knowing of its existence. Assassination is the goal here, wounding someone only gives them the opportunity to convalesce, rally their troops, and retaliate later. Swift, clean and total annihilation is the only course of action. Please keep in mind that if you level someone, all bets are off. You are making it known that there is no hope, nor interest in reconciliation or making nice. If you were to liken it to a warzone, you are essentially nuking the battlefield and turning the desert to glass. That said, this decision has a cost, if you nuke your boss, be prepared to leave expediently. If you do this to a lover/husband/wife/significant other, it’s over. If it’s a teacher, you just bombed the class. The point here is that everybody has to eat crow at some point in their lives for whatever reason, to keep their job, to finish a project, to keep a marriage together, whatever, that fact of the matter, shooting a poisoned arrow sometimes just isn’t worth the aftermath. Be prepared for that.

5) Character assassination. Think of it as a clean slate for the miserable slob who’s been giving you a hard time. Here’s how you do it. First, if someone’s calling you names, don’t get suckered into a name-calling fight. It’s dumb and serves no purpose. Instead, go for the reason why the turd is calling you names. Acknowledge your being an easy target, but the reason why he/she’s attacking you is because what they fear most in themselves could very easily be what they’re accusing in you. It’s like the fat girl running around the playground calling other people fat. She’s attacking other people so that she won’t get attacked. It’s lame. So when you bring it up that she’s calling you fat because her brother comes home from being the worst player warming the bench at soccer practice, rips off the heads of her Bratz dolls, calls her a fat skank and then breaks wind on her toothbrush, she now feels the need to take it out on you…it’s pathetic. She’s calling you fat because her brother sucks at soccer. So there you are. Simple. Easy. Get to the root of the issue as to why this monkey is flinging proverbial poo at you, expose it openly, and you’re good. She'll leave you alone. You’re not worth messing with. The thing about this, is that she’s getting bullied, and is passing the pain on to you. Hopefully this will open her eyes to addressing the issue with her brother.

6) The family dynamic. The holiday season means family and some very old wounds. Many people do not have to leave home in order to find a bully. There are instances when you can deal with them as you would a normal bully, but it complicates things by the fact that when you demolish a family member, you’re reestablishing a pecking order. For instance, If you have a particularly bitter, old, rotting harpy of a family member who likes to bring up ridiculous things in your past like the time you thought “The Monkees” were the bomb or your unhealthy fondness for comic books, or that time you made a fool of yourself by doing whatever sport it is you tried out for and failed miserably. Perhaps they used a poisoned arrow themselves, like the time they outed you at your grandmother’s 80th birthday party (if that happens to you, just own it.). Who would do such a thing? It’s the mark of a wounded soul. Everyone in the family knows this aspect about this individual. It’s possible you’ve known one another your entire lives and it’s impossible to believe that this woman’s bitch factor is flying under the radar. It’s pretty much public record to everyone involved. That said, don’t use a poisoned arrow on a family member unless you’re prepared for the backlash. Even if they deserve it, if you use it, it makes you look like a monster. It’s appropriate to pull them aside and show them the arrow and if they want to open this dialogue in public that’s their prerogative but it’s best to leave things where they are and stop picking on you.
Bullying is everywhere, odds are, it’s happened to you at some point in your life. Bullies go after people that they deem as easy targets and it’s always because they feel unworthy or insecure. They are trying to make everyone as miserable as they are, or they are doing this as a distraction. If people’s attention is focused somewhere else, they will be overlooked. If you’re the bully, please realize the pain you're putting someone else through will one day come back to haunt you. Karma is swift and unforgiving, and the people you’re bullying will one day own the company that you’re trying to get hired by.