Learn to identify and label different types of bullies and the tactics they use. That will give you power. You’ll know what you’re up against. You won’t second-guess yourself. You’ll be able to align and focus your energy and action. You’ll get the help you need. Some ways many people think of bullying are:
- Mental, emotional, physical bullying (including harassment and threats).
- Verbal bullying, non-verbal harassment, physical violence (attacks on people, pets or things).
But I focus on 5 types of bullies and their tactics:
- Overt bullies.
- Covert bullies.
- “Professional Victims.”
Often there are no clear and fixed lines between these types of bullies and bullies often use different tactics. I don’t include sexual bullying as a separate category because that can be done using all the tactics.
Overt bullies act out in public. They’re easier to see and to get evidence against.
Covert bullies are sneaky, manipulative and controlling. They abuse in secret; it’s much harder to get evidence against them.
Some of the techniques overt and covert bullies use:
- They get out of control and throw temper tantrums (like children). They’ll have physical or verbal explosions or give the “Loud Silent Treatment.” They get power by anger and rage.
- They indulge in personal vendettas and scapegoat victims.
- They make harsh judgments or remarks or put-downs. They’re experts in personal criticism and negativity.
- They talk down to people. They push sensitive places in order to make other people feel bad.
- Their feelings matter; yours don't. They make the rules; you don't. Their reasons make sense; yours don't. They're right; you're wrong.
- They’re instigators. They pour gas on the fire, get other people to fight and they create “uproar.” They’re splinters.
- They’re control-freaks and turf protectors. They’re always right and righteous.
- They’re relentlessly negative, critical, naysayers who are impossible to please. They complain until they get attention.
- They tease, taunt and use name calling put-downs. They use people as emotional punching bags.
- They make nasty, ugly, vicious, snide jokes or cut you down, followed by “I was just kidding” or “You’re too sensitive” or “I didn’t mean anything bad” or “I was only having a little fun.”
- They mock with non-verbal, disrespectful “editorial” comments like eye rolling or snorting.
- They form school yard cliques to cut out their targets. They’re passive-aggressive. They manipulate, triangulate, and stimulate unhappiness and drama.
- They spread rumors, gossip, innuendos and lies.
- They’re great debaters who never let you win. They’re antagonistic, boundary pushers who do the minimum and undercut authority and systems.
- They always blame others. Nothing is ever their fault. They have endless excuses and justifications while showing little-no improvement.
Cyberbullies are hostile and personal. They encourage or organize “mobs” to pile on.
“Professional Victims” – most people overlook this category. Professional victims act fragile and have hurt feelings in order to gain power and control. People walk on egg shells near them. They’re hypersensitive, spoiled brats who cry and blame. They’re hysterical Drama Queens-Kings. They make a big deal over things you think aren’t worth fighting about. They use shame, guilt and anger.
Self-bullies beat themselves up all the time. They feel unworthy and have low self-esteem. They wallow in self-questioning and self-doubt, and stay stuck and insecure. They’re easily manipulated by overt and, especially, by covert bullies. They’re the hardest people to help.
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