A bully pretends to be a victim in order to manipulate others.
Because most people are good and compassionate, this is bullying at its worst.
When a bully acts like a victim, they also gain the unwitting compliance of others into bullying you. Naïve, compassionate people will chastise you for not caring about the bully’s victimization, and not changing your behaviour to meet the bully’s desires.
Although this particularly nasty form of bullying occurs occasionally in the workplace, it is more common at home, where it represents emotional blackmail.
A bully can go as far as to change their appearance e.g. change their hair colour (more likely if their image is female), from dark to blonde to look more vulnerable and making a concerted effort to smile sweetly in photographs to hide their true selves. See The Dark ‘Arte’ of Glamour
A bully exaggerates the impact of your actions on them
– The person exaggerates his pain and suffering
– The person makes you feel guilty for causing his pain
– the person claims you don’t appreciate them
A bully focuses on past and future victimization
– They frequently remind you of your past actions that hurt them
– They replays their pain whenever they want to manipulate you
– They bring up their pain long after the event occurred
– They don’t seem to get over things
– They say you will hurt them again if you don’t do what they want
A bully uses their victimization to avoid changing their behaviour
– The person says you must earn back their trust, good will, friendship, support
– They claim their belligerence results from being treated unfairly
– They become angry and indignant when you try to reason with them
– They suggest that others are ganging up on them
A bully is admired because they appear successful
– A bully usually gets their way
– There are few complaints about a bully’s brutal tactics
– The culture is to admire the winners, regardless of their tactics
– A bully is widely admired as an aggressive, competitive leader
Scapegoats are found to take the blame
– Blaming others is a very popular method for explaining mistakes
– Problems in a bully’s department are never blamed on the bully
– A bully’s victims are criticized for incompetence and a bad attitude
A bully lives to control others. They thrive in a place that tends to dehumanize and control behaviour.
Bullying That Only You Can See
Does your situation seem like a mental hospital where the inmates are running things? In this distorted reality, the brutal tactics of a vicious bully may be invisible to everyone but you.
How you can tell that bullying is relatively invisible
– No one confronts a bully
– Bully dominates meetings, conversations and social strategies
– No one believes that the bully is causing poor morale
– Bully has been counselled on their behaviours, but refuse to change
– Witnesses to the bullying behaviour can call it “tough management”
– When a bully manipulates others, they are submissive: People walk on eggshells around him
People let them get away with distortions and lies
People give them resources rather than endure their wrath.
You can tell your true friends by whether they fully support you in times of trouble. It would be wonderful if they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with you in confronting a bully, but don’t expect it.
Loyalty usually vanishes in the stress and turmoil of a toxic situation, particularly when a powerful bully is on a rampage. They are more likely to be intimidated into silence, particularly if their social lives are at stake.
They may also be unaware of the deceitful, manipulative nature of a bully. If they are kind and cooperative people, they are probably giving the bully the benefit of the doubt. They are more likely to buy into the fiction that either “it is just a personality conflict” or that you are a “negative, disruptive influence” for complaining about the bully.
You may see some others later victimized by the bully. Then they will see things your way, although it probably will be too late to do you any good.
So if you want to avoid disappointment over the behaviour of others, don’t expect too much. In the atmosphere of fear and confusion created by a bully, they perceive little choice but to pursue their own self-interest. If you gear up for a long, unpleasant battle with a bully, you will be prepared for anything. If things get resolved early, you will be pleasantly surprised. But if it becomes a battle of endurance, you will ultimately prevail. Why is self-awareness important in preparing to fight a bully?
Because your primary weapon in fighting a bully is YOUR ATTITUDE. If you want to succeed, you don’t have the luxury of being unaware of your own strengths, weaknesses, limitations and vulnerabilities.
A bully studies your weaknesses and uses them to control you. You can only get the upper hand if you become aware of your weaknesses and work through them and around them.
Self-awareness is the foundation for becoming a powerful fighter. To achieve self-awareness, you must pay attention to your own emotions, attitude and behaviours, particularly in relationship to other people.
Don’t worry about fixing your faults. Negative emotions and vulnerabilities tend to dissipate under the scrutiny of self-awareness. Then you become free to focus your energies in a positive way. It is natural for you to feel anger and hate towards a bully. After all, they are aggressively imposing their objectives upon you in very underhanded ways.
But hating a bully is counter-productive. It causes you to lose control of your emotions (and often your actions), which increases a bully’s power over you.
Acknowledge your anger and hate, but don’t act on it. Instead, just let it go. Get over it! In his relentless quest for power, a bully is fully committed to either controlling you or destroying you. If you go up against him with a half-hearted resolve to fight, they will prevail.
The solution is total commitment on your part. After all, it is your job, your career and your happiness that is at stake. Take a stand and see it through with a stubborn persistence that will ultimately win you the prize of emotional independence and freedom from the bullies of the world.
Once you have made the commitment, then relax. You know what you have to do. Don’t get emotional about it. Remind yourself that you have chosen freedom over submission, love over hate and good over evil. When a potential bully turns on the charm, don’t be fooled. Personal charisma often hides a ruthless manipulator. You can’t afford to be naïve if you’re going to preserve your dignity and stand up for your rights.