What do you do when someone you depend on must be gone and you have to pick up the slack? Typical scenarios when this happens include termination, vacation, downsizing or personal crisis.
To read the rest of this article from the Business First of Columbus, see:
Surviving crises while that crucial someone is gone
For example, Brad and Harry had been partners for years and depended on each other daily. When Brad’s father had a stroke and went into a coma, Brad’s work life stopped but Harry’s didn’t. Harry had to do both their tasks. But how could he complain when Brad rushed to be at his father’s side? Brad knew Harry would understand.
As days stretched into weeks, Harry became overwhelmed. But he certainly didn’t want his weaknesses to burden Brad, who had “more important” things on his mind.
Some bullying bosses are overt. They yell, micromanage, criticize relentlessly, make personal remarks, are never satisfied and never promote staff.
Other bullies are more covert.
For example, Abby controls her team by making quick decisions and immediately shifting into action. If you stop to deliberate, she’ll become exasperated and question your intelligence. Because she’s in a hurry, few people get consulted in advance and things are always done her way. Once she’s made up her mind, she won’t change direction.
On the other hand, Alex moves with great deliberation and caution. He’s just as controlling as Abby, but in the opposite way. He wants to chew and digest all the details before he’ll decide. If you want to move rapidly, he’ll become exasperated and question your intelligence and good judgment. Because he controls the snail’s pace, few people even bother making input anymore.
If he doesn’t want to implement a plan, he’ll say he needs endless information and reflection. Usually, his deliberations push so hard against deadlines that everyone has to work hectically at the last minute, including weekends. He doesn’t mind because he’s still in control.
Alex tries to control his managerial peers by delaying decisions. His arguments defending deliberation and caution can be very persuasive. No one wants to be labeled “thoughtless or careless.”
People who are concerned with making good decisions will adjust their processes and timing to fit the situation. Some decisions can be made with extensive input and deliberation, while others demand unilateral and rapid action. Each style can be successful or have disastrous consequences, depending on the situation.
The rapid responses of many small businesses secured them productive niches while corporate goliaths deliberated. Similarly, decisions made in the blink of an eye – based on accurate intuition, the hair standing up on the back of your neck or a wrenching in your gut – can save your life or business. If you wait for proof, it will be too late.
But, of course, we don’t want someone building a bridge or an airplane based on snap decisions.
Be warned: Abby and Alex’s covert, controlling techniques are used just as much between couples in personal life and in family businesses. However, the same mindset and methods that work to manage peers in corporate life can be effective in those more personal situations.
How you cope with bullies using these styles depends on whether you’re a peer, a supervisee or a supervisor – see complete article for details.
A nine-year-old, third grade student from Colorado Springs was recently suspended for fighting back against another student who had bullied him repeatedly The target had complained to school authorities, but they had not protected him.
Both boys were suspended for fighting. The school defended its actions: "If a student is involved in a physical altercation on school property, they are automatically suspended. District 11 schools employ many anti-bullying teaching techniques … and none of these methods include violence or retaliation," the school said in a statement to KDVR.
Of course, they'll suspend you because teachers and principals who don't protect kids are do-nothing jerks and jerks do jerky things and they don’t wan to risk making a wise judgment about who the bully is. When you get suspended, act contrite. Say you're sorry, promise you won't fight again. When no one is looking, wink at the bully to let him know that you'll beat him up again, if necessary.
If you follow this plan, you'll get at least four wonderful things:
While you're on suspension, I'll take you to Disney World for a big celebration. After all, winners of Super Bowls get to go; why not winners on the playground?
I also tell them that there are some caveats to my advice:
If the bully is much bigger than you or if there is a gang of kids, we'll devise a different plan
When you're old enough (maybe high school) that kids are carrying weapons, we'll devise a different plan.
But the take-home message is always to give the responsible authorities a chance, but if they don't do their jobs, solve the problem yourself. Don't be a victim waiting forever for other people to protect you. Use your own power. Say “That’s enough!” Say “No!” Stopping bullies is more important than never using violence.
Sawyer Rosenstein, 12 -year-old seventh grader from New Jersey, was bullied for months until the bully punched him and left him paralyzed. He received a settlement of $4.2 million from the school district. A claim against the bully has also settled, but details are confidential. And, Sawyer is still paralyzed for life.
Reports from the New York Daily News and the Morristown Personal Injury Blog make clear that:
"Additionally, the same bully that injured the boy had previously injured another student, yet no serious action was taken."
New Jersey has a strong anti-bullying law. Nevertheless, his experience “shows that schools have a great responsibility to make sure that these laws are enforced in order to prevent students from being injured by bullies on school property.”
“The Board of Education released a statement Wednesday denying any wrongdoing and saying that it was the district’s insurance carriers that decided to enter into the settlement and will pay it out. ‘The district’s character education and harassment/intimidation/bullying initiatives and reporting practices are leading edge,’ the statement said. ‘All programs in this area far exceed all of the criteria established by the state of New Jersey.’ … The board said the settlement did not include any admission of liability or fault on the part of the district.”
What’s wrong with the school board’s basic assumptions?
Little children usually can get away with charm, potential and promises. But as we cross past approximately 5th grade, we enter the time when those qualities count less and less, and results count more and more. That’s a hard transition for many people to make. When we get to be adults, we’re evaluated by the results we produce.
Following the rules or processes is a minimum standard. The correct standard, by which school authorities should be judged, is whether they get results.
Thomas Alva Edison once said, “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” Of course large organizations like school districts need rules and processes. But those are judged by whether they produce the desired results, not by whether they’re being followed. Following processes is never enough; results count.
What can you do if you’re a parent trying to protect your child from such irresponsible incompetents?
Increasing productivity is relatively easy because you can measure and quantify production, and then respond effectively. But how do you fix poor attitudes, which you can’t quantify?
Actually, it’s not that hard.
A list of poor attitudes typically presented to me by managers and employees includes negativity, insubordination, narcissism, hyper-sensitivity, bullying, abuse of power and lack of responsibility.
How do you clarify attitudes you can’t quantify? The first step is to acknowledge that although you can’t quantify attitudes like “narcissistic control-freak,” you can recognize and document behaviors without resorting to mind reading, moral judgments or personal attacks. Then you can act on your documentation of non-professional versus professional behavior.
Make sure it’s legal. Then everyone from the owner on down is required to subscribe to or sign off on the new code of professional behavior. The code then becomes a significant part of everyone’s evaluations. Be consistent in rewarding the desired behavior and having consequences for actions against your code.
Venting, like catharsis, seems so natural: we all blow off steam sometimes. And when we finish, we usually heave a great sigh of relief.
But to me, the real questions are, “What’s the point of venting?” and “Can it help stop bullies?
I think of venting as a process, or part of a process, not as a result in and of itself.
Tens of thousands of years ago, we might have vented our fear and anger through physical action. Get rid of the adrenaline, calm down and decide what to do. But we still had to be careful and keep ourselves in check enough while we’re venting to see the signs of saber-toothed tigers or giant bears or we wouldn’t be around to vent again.
Or we might have used a big club to whack an opponent and then face the consequences of that rash act.
Nowadays, we can still use some techniques like physical effort to release steam and calm us down. For example, working off adrenaline by banging a ball or running or boxing. In addition, a wise woman once said that whenever she got angry, she vacuumed her house. That way, when she finished being angry, she’d have a clean house and she could focus on what to do next.
Some people use anger and venting to give themselves enough energy to stop harassment and bullying. In that case, it does help us stop bullies. A classic example might be Ralphie Parker in the movie, “The Christmas Story.” In that case, he channeled his anger effectively and vented while he was beating up the bully. But usually, when we act from anger we’re not strategic; we do dumb things that make the situation worse.
Therefore we must challenge ourselves to stop repeated replaying and re-venting over the same incidents and injustices. Repeated venting without effective action becomes narcissistic whining and complaining, which becomes boring and self-destructive.
Such repetition drives our good friends away. I think it was Annie Liebovitz who said, “Spilling your guts is about as attractive as it sounds.”
We most also be wary of hanging out with people who vent repeatedly. Yes, injustice might have been done, but we still have to move on effectively in life – either fight the injustice effectively or go in a different direction successfully.
I’ve met too many people who have filled their lives and many hours of psychoanalysis in endless probing and catharsis. They seem to assume that if only they vent enough, finally they’ll come to rest in peace on the other side. Too often they end up knowing everything about some sides of themselves, but never having changed their behavior, fixed the situation or created wonderful lives. A life of verbal and righteous indignation is not a very fruitful life.
I’m more focused on overtly using techniques for moving to the other side and rapidly taking effective action.
Sometimes things are very clear and straightforward even though carrying them out may be difficult. But that’s a lot better than not being clear.
Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize winning poet, said, “Create an isle of song in a sea of shouts.” This vision provides clarity about the direction we want our lives – situation after situation. But the process varies with the specifics of our individual situations.
But what can we do about bad blood if we still feel the need to see those people sometimes?
One couple I coached created a wonderful image. They needed to protect both the physical and the emotional ecology of their Isle from a very toxic adult daughter. In non-technical terms, the daughter was “crazy.”
She could be sweet one moment, but the next, for no apparent reason, she’d blow up and throw an explosive, attacking, vicious temper tantrum. She’d loudly curse and blame her parents for how bad she felt or what had happened to her. It was all their fault, she’d yell, because they wouldn’t do exactly what she wanted them to do, every moment, even if her feelings or what she wanted changed in an instant. In her rage, she’d even try to hit them.
The parents couldn’t trust their daughter. Actually, they could trust that almost every time they saw her, the daughter would repeat a life-long pattern without warning or provocation.
The parents felt that they had to protect themselves and their much younger children from the older daughter, but they still felt bound to see the “crazy” daughter sometimes.
The image that worked for them was to imagine a long boardwalk from their Isle of Song leading out to a McDonald’s surrounded by a huge barbed-wire fence. They could tolerate meeting her out there to have a burger once every three-four months. But at the first signs of a blow up, they’d leave the McDonald’s, close the gate and their crazy daughter was stuck out there. She could never get to their Isle and trash it with her emotional garbage. And they’d never allow her to move back home.
That way, the parents could satisfy both values of seeing their daughter and of protecting the rest of the family. They removed the interaction from their Isle both physically and emotionally. That solution fit them.
There are also many situations in which we feel stuck by circumstances and choose to use the long boardwalk method to protect our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. We decide to interact with the bullies physically once in a while but we’ll protect ourselves. We’ll always have a way home that we control.
Also, we’ll maintain an emotional distance. We won’t take what they say or do personally. We may be unable to stop them from trashing the ocean far away or trashing their own Isle, but we won’t let them trash our emotional Isle.
Again, it’s our choice depending on the circumstance and what we want to do.
The key step in these situations is internal: to keep a spark alive in our hearts. We know that we’re choosing to endure the pollution and noise for a finite time, but that in the end, we’ll get free and vote those people off our Isles of Song.
We can’t allow the worst of ourselves to trash our own Isle.
That image can make clear the next steps in our personal development.
We live up to the standards required for anyone to be allowed to stay on our Isle. We develop strength, courage, determination, perseverance – grit. We vote the selfish, narcissistic, insensitive parts of us off our Isle until those parts develop better ways of getting the wonderful things and feelings we want in our lives. We become worthy of our own Isle.
Often that requires expert coaching to replace old, out-dated beliefs, attitudes, feelings and habits with new ones appropriate to our Isle. With expert coaching and consulting, we can learn to command ourselves. We can overcome the voices of our fears and self-bullying.
There’s a world of difference between being an active witness to bullying and abuse, and being merely a bystander.
A bystander has already decided to be an uninvolved spectator, to look the other way, to pretend ignorance if called upon.
A witness can make a tactical decision based on the circumstances – intervene now in some tactical way or speak up later.
At work, co-workers or bosses are bullies; at home, abusive parents will harass and bully one young child while lavishing goodies on the other; in addition, toxic parents will favor one adult child over another with love and inheritance on the line.
I’ll focus here on kids, but the larger implications should be obvious when you think about slavery or the Nazis or a hundred other public examples.
Often, at school and at home, mean kids will try to turn siblings or friends against each other.
For example, Charles’ friend, Brad, was relentlessly nasty to Charles’ sister Sarah. He made fun of her, called her stupid, dumb and ugly, and, even though Sarah was tall and skilled enough to play with the older boys, he’d cut her out of their games or he’d intentionally knock her down.
Charles looked on in dismay but never interfered. That was puzzling to Charles’ parents because, in one-to-one situations, Charles played well with Sarah and liked her. Yet Charles had become a bystander; he wouldn’t step up to what he knew was right.
How come he didn’t protect Sarah from Brad? Was Charles afraid that if he interfered he’d lose a friend or that Brad would beat him up? Did Charles secretly want his sister out of the way?
Without knowing the real answers to the “why” questions, the pain, shame, anxiety and stress of watching his sister tormented and the guilty laceration of his conscience finally drove Charles to choose which side he was on. He stood up for his sister and for high standards of conduct, but then he had to solve another problem; Brad was a head taller and 30 pounds heavier than he was.
In front of Sarah, Charles got in Brad’s face and told him to cut it out. If Brad wanted to be his friend and play with him, he had to be nice to Sarah…or else
Most of the Brad’s in the world would back down but this one didn’t. Angry words led to shoving and Brad grabbed Charles and threw him down. At this point Charles and Sarah’s advanced planning gave them a tactical advantage. Sarah, as tall and heavy as Charles, jumped on Brad’s back and the brother and sister piled on Brad and punched and kicked him.
As with most kid fights it was over fast. Brad got the message; he was facing a team. If he wanted to play with them he’d have to play with both of them. If he wanted to fight he’d have to fight both of them. No parents were involved and Brad chose to play with them and be nice to Sarah.
As much as the incident helped Sarah, Charles was the major beneficiary of his choice. His self-esteem soared. He had been courageous and mentally strong. And he learned that he and his sister could plan and stand firm together.
In a different situation, Ellen was popular and Allison, who was outgoing but had no friends, wanted Ellen all to herself. At school, Allison put-down and cut out anyone Ellen wanted to play with. If Ellen refused to follow Allison, Allison would get hysterical, cry and wail that Ellen was hurting her feelings. Ellen didn’t want to hurt Allison but she wanted to play with whoever she wanted to play with.
The situation came to a head during the summer. Allison wanted to play with Ellen every day. And on every play date, Allison would be nasty to Ellen’ younger sister. She’d mock Jill, order her to leave them alone and demand that Ellen get rid of her younger sister. They were best friends and there was no room for a little kid.
Ellen faced the same choice that Charles had; hurt her sister in order to collude with her friend or lose a friend and classmate.
Ellen didn’t agonize like Charles had. Ellen was very clear; colluding is not how a good person would act. However, her requests that Allison stop only brought on more hysterical anger and tantrums.
Ellen didn’t want to play with Allison any more but didn’t know how to accomplish this. When she told Allison, Allison threw another fit – hurt feelings and crying.
This situation required different tactics from Charles’ because Ellen was younger and arrangements for them to play during the summer and after school had to be made by their parents.
Ellen’ parents could have gone to Allison’s parents and told them what Allison was doing. However, they’d observed that Allison’s parents had never tried to stop her hysterics, blaming and finger-pointing at school. They’d always believed Allison’s accusations about other kids and added their blame. They demanded that teachers do what Allison wanted.
Ellen’ parents thought that raising the issue with Allison’s parents would only lead to negativity, accusations and an ugly confrontation, which would carry over to school.
They decided to use an indirect approach; they were simply always too busy for Ellen to play with Allison. The rest of the summer they made excuses to ensure there would be no play dates. When school started, they made sure there were no play dates after school, even if Jill wasn’t there. They didn’t want their daughter to be friends with such a stealthy, manipulative, nasty, control-freak like Allison.
In addition, they told Ellen’s teacher what Allison was doing and asked them to watch if Allison tried to control Ellen and cut out other kids.
Most important, Charles stopped being spectator and became an effective witness-participant. Ellen also would not remain a bystander. She made her feelings clear and her parents helped intervene. Both children learned important lessons in developing outstanding character and values.
Tactics are always dependent on the specifics of the situation. As parents wanting to help and guide your children and grandchildren, remember that there’s no one-right-way to act. The people involved get to choose where they want to start the process of standing up as witnesses and participants. You can get ideas and guidelines from books and CDs but on-going coaching, to prepare you for your “moments of truth,” is essential. You will need to adjust your plan in response to what happens at each step along the way.
Jane was stuck in an internal war. Every time she made some progress toward goals she’d been pursuing for years – cleaned her house, did things on her to-do list, met people she’d wanted to, signed up for classes toward a better job, courageously risked being honest – she’d start beating herself up in ways she was familiar with since childhood.
A part of her would say, in an old, familiar voice, “Who do you think you are, you’ll never succeed, you’ll fall back into being a failure, you’re fat and ugly, you’re not good enough to stay on track, you’re weak at your core, you’ll never do the right thing, you’ll fail like you always do, no one likes you, no one will love you, you’ll be alone all your life.”
Then she’d isolate herself and start picking on herself physically. That’d only make things worse. She’d feel ashamed and guilty. “Maybe they’re right,” she’d think. “I’m not good enough. I’ll always be a mess. I’ll never change. I’ll never succeed.”
She’d become angry at her parents and all the people who’d taken advantage of her, at all the people who weren’t supportive now and finally at herself. And the cycle would continue; a little success leading to self-loathing and predictions of failure, followed by anger at everyone in her past and present, followed by more anger and self-loathing. After several wasted days, she’d get herself together to try once more, but the emotional and spiritual cost of each cycle was huge.
Self-bullying– negative self-talk, an internal war between the side of you that fights to do better and the side that seems to despise you, that’s full of self-loathing and self-abuse – can go on a whole lifetime. Of course, the effects can be devastating – anxiety and stress, discouragement and depression, loss of confidence and self-esteem, huge emotional swings that drive good people away and attract bullies and predators.
Perhaps the worst effect is a sense of desperation and panic, isolation and loneliness – it feels like this has been going on forever and doesn’t look like it will ever end; every failure feels like the end of the world; like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. You feel helpless and are sure that it’s hopeless.
This is not a war between the left and right sides of our brains. This is usually not our being taken over by an evil spirit that needs exorcised psychologically.
This is usually a battle between two sides of us that split apart because of terrible, overwhelming pressure when we were kids. Back then, we didn’t know how to cope with the horror so we split into two strategies that have been battling with childlike intensity and devotion ever since.
On the one hand, we fight to feel inspired and centered and to do our best; to be courageous and bold and fierce; to try hard, be joyous and hope for success. On the other hand, we fight to make us docile and not try to rise above our meager lot in life, to accept what they tell us and give up struggling against them so they’ll let us survive, to motivate ourselves by whipping ourselves so we’ll make enough effort and do the right things, and maybe then they’ll give us something in return and we’ll have those feelings of peace and joy.
Both voices want us to survive and to feel centered, peaceful and filled with joy. Each takes an opposite path to get there. Instead of a psychological exorcism, we need an internal reconciliation and a release from old battles with our external oppressors and between our internal, battling voices.
The inner goal is clear: We’ll be whole and unified, both sides will be working together toward the same end (http://www.bulliesbegoneblog.com/2008/04/25/getting-over-parents-who-wound-their-children-the-2nd-stage-of-growing-up-and-leaving-home/#more-35): the different possibilities for action will be presented to us in the encouraging voices of coaches; we’ll be inspired and motivated by encouragement, not whipping: we’ll have an adult sense of our strength and capability; we’ll feel like we can cope successfully without tight control over everything and we’ll act in a timely manner; situations won’t put us into a panic; mistakes won’t be a portent of doom.
For example, Jane finally made internal peace. Her warring sides accepted that they had the same outcome – making a good life for her, filling her with the joy she’d always wanted to feel. They realized that neither side could defeat the other; their only hope was to work together using adult strategies of motivating her to take actions that would help her succeed. They saw that her situation now, in middle age, was very different from when she was a helpless child and had to depend on parents who seemed to despise her character, personality and style.
Sometimes we need to replay the horrible things that people did to us – whether it was once or repeatedly, whether they were the perpetrators or they stood by or even colluded and ignored the abuse and our pain. Sometime we need to get angry and vent and imagine all the ways we could retaliate and extract vengeance and justice. Sometimes we blame ourselves, wishing we could finally win their love and undo the hurt. During those times we typically say, “It’s not fair. Why me? Why don’t they understand and appreciate me? What did I do wrong?”
But in the end, whatever the specifics of our situations, we all know where we have to get to if we’re going to make the rest of our lives worth living.
By whatever process we use successfully, through whatever pain we have to endure, after we stop the harassment, bullying, abuse and torment inflicted upon us, we have two choices – to let our lives be destroyed by the rotten people who abused us or to move on somehow, to create families and lives worth living.
I’m not minimizing the damage and the pain or the time it may take, but throughout history, we see the same pattern in response to individual and cultural or societal horrors. Some people’s spirits are destroyed by what was done to them. Other people stay alive and vital.
Examples are all around of famous individuals who turned their backs on the perpetrators and moved on – Maya Angelou and Winston Churchill easily come to mind. There are also inspiring examples known only to our families. We must keep our eyes focused on the light at the end of the tunnel of pain – the light that reminds us to keep moving ahead despite the temporary discouragement, depression and despair.
What keeps most people stuck in the abyss of pain for years; long after they’re physically and fiscally capable of separating? Mostly, it’s a combination of:
Wanting the perpetrators to acknowledge what they did and to apologize or beg for our forgiveness. Or wanting vindication and revenge.
Championing their pain as different and greater than anyone else’s or saying that their hurt and pain was so bad that they’ve been damaged for the rest of their lives.
Wallowing in negative self-talk and self-abuse.
The results of this self-bullying victim talk are clear – stress, anxiety, self-doubt, guilt, shame, panic, low self-confidence and self-esteem; huge overreactions as if everything is a matter of life or death; a life ruled by the past, time wasted circling around the carcass of the past, chewing over the gristle of every past and present episode of abuse.
The light at the end of the tunnel is when our spirits rise and make us indomitable and invulnerable, determined and indefatigable; when:
We won’t be weighed down by the baggage of the past. We don’t have to please the perpetrators or excuse or justify our behavior to our abusers and we also don’t have to rebel any more just to prove that we’re independent. We stop sacrificing ourselves for further flagellation and spurning.
The voices of the past become irrelevant; we now make decisions directed by our own spirits.
We won’t be at the mercy of external events, especially the past. Instead we’ll create our own futures, no matter what.
This is the goal of all the talk, catharsis, coaching. We become our original, fiery selves – strong, brave and determined – and now skilled adults.
In this new state, the fear of failure or success is gone. We no longer view the world through the lens of “deserve, justify, punish or forgive.” The emotional motivation cycle – endless self-criticism and self analysis, and then criticism of the criticism, and then criticism of the criticism of the criticism – of the old victim side of us is gone.
We no longer have overwhelming emotional reactions to whatever happens. Mistakes are no longer life threatening. Failing at something is no longer a portent of a bleak future. Doing something wrong no longer consigns us to hell forever.
We ride through these ups and downs, buoyed by certain knowledge that we’ll keep plugging along, doing what we can, following our Heart’s Desire.
From here we can easily recognize other people who are still in the old place – underneath their franticness and self-flagellation, they look and sound like victims, not willing to do whatever it takes to protect themselves; attracting old and new predators. Predators also recognize easy targets.
From here we can see how boring the victim personality is. It’s all about their pain and problems, as if that’s really who they are. They’re still trying to squeeze love or justification from a stone. They still want to interact with scavengers.
In our new space, we’re interested and interesting, excited and exciting. We focus on what feeds our spirits; not on endless cud-chewing and psychoanalysis. We leave the predators behind and seek the families of our hearts and spirits.
The process of leaving the old, victim place usually includes many instantaneous epiphanies, as well as the time necessary to develop new habits through many ups and downs. But that’s merely a process to leave the old and to be completely comfortable in the new.
When we live in a state of inner freedom, we don’t forget the pain. We remember that abuse all our lives. We hold that memory sacred – but we don’t use the pain to motivate ourselves, we convert it to a source of strength and courage to create a new life, a life that’s built on the ashes of childhood dreams destroyed.
Sometimes, even successful women give up their own identities and slowly accept boyfriends controlling their lives. These women give up their independence and become willing victims. A mild example was described by Dr. Irene S. Levine. The bullying may start immediately, but usually there’s a step-by-step process of boundary pushing and giving in. The bully’s harassment is relentless, no one incident is worth a huge fight and if she refuses to do what he wants, she’s wrong and he becomes more abusive or threatens to leave.
What happens in a more extreme case and what can these women do to get away?
In one case, when Kate met Carl at work, she was successful with her own goals, place, money, car and an active social life. At first, Carl was very charming and confident, and they became good friends. Kate says they were two peas in a pod. How wrong she was!
After they actually moved in together, Carl changed. He knew that Kate had tattoos on her arms, but after they became a couple, he said that she needed to wear long sleeves when she was with him. He wouldn’t be linked to a person with tattoos. Kate thought that he was a jerk. Now she thinks that she should have said goodbye right there, but she did what he said. After all, she thought, it was only one small thing.
Carl wanted to move to a new town to start his own business. Kate was reluctant because she’d also have to quit her job, but Carl insisted. Before they lived together, Kate was a member of three coed gyms, but in the new town, Carl insisted that she go to an all-women's gym. She gave in because she didn't want the headache of disagreeing with him, but she kept feeling like she was the one who was making all the changes.
Sat in the home office for six-ten hours a day working for Carl.
Sold her car so he could get one he wanted, in his name.
Was never allowed to talk or go out with her friends.
Had a credit card that she was allowed to use only for household purchases, which Carl monitored.
Cooked, cleaned and took care of the dogs.
Was 20 pounds overweight and flat broke – he gave her only enough for household shopping and his errands.
Carl was always in a bad mood and yelled at her all the time. Every thing she did set him off. He said that his nasty moods were because he was stressed and she wasn’t helpful enough, so she had to put up with them. He didn’t communicate with her; he just blew up at her. He never said that he was sorry; he acted like it didn’t matter.
Kate finally realized that she’d become his slave! What I say in, “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” she eventually understood in her gut. “What’s the price of tolerating bullies? Slow erosion of your soul.”
Looking back, she realized that bullies and control freaks don’t take your kindness, reasonableness and tolerance as decent behavior they should reciprocate. They take it as an invitation to grab for more. They won’t stop until they have everything, which is never, or until they get bored.
There’s no point going into great analysis about why Kate did what she did. Her tasks were to forget trying to change him and to stop listening and acquiescing to him. She had to get away as soon as she could, find allies and supporters where she lived, go to coed gyms and lose weight, and get a money-making job again. She also needed a coach to bolster her resolve, perseverance and resilience, and to plan effective tactics.
Early on, she had been independent and could have left, but she didn’t. She had to struggle a lot to dig herself out of the pit she was in, but it was worth the rest of her life to become independent again.
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* The Bullies Be Gone system — Professional Life Bundle
The two new bundles bring together all of the elements and resources you need to create a bully-free environment in your professional and in your personal lives. Listen to the CDs in the car or airplane, and refer back to the sections in the books that you'll want to read over and over. When you purchase these bundles, you'll receive more that 20% off the price of each resource, if purchased separately.
They’re in plenty of time to help you handle the bullies you face during the holiday season and to give as presents to those in need. Please see the details, including the Table of Contents and questions for reading groups, on the products and resources page.
“How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” will show you how to apply lessons from 20 case studies to end bullying in your personal life and at work:
* Early warning signs of overt and stealth bullies.
* Stop self-bullying before it destroys your life.
* The three strategies that will be successful.
* Nine ineffective approaches you should stop using.
* A five-step process to thwart the most determined bullies.
* How to protect your personal ecology.
“Parenting Bully-Proof Kids: Stop School Bullies in Their Tracks” is a companion to “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks.” It shows you how to guide your children and teenagers to live a bully-free life.
Good parenting requires you to teach them how to use other tactics and techniques to stop bullies in their tracks, as well as to maintain their independence, confidence and self-esteem, and to promote their emotional development. That's necessary preparation for them to succeed in the adult world at work and in personal relationships – e.g., with husbands, wives, partners, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends and neighbors.
Six case studies will teach you how to help them deal with:
* Taunting, teasing and fighting.
* A venomous Queen Bee.
* Emotional blackmail.
* A manipulative control-freak who pretends to be a friend.
* School administrators.
* The most important decision for teenagers.
The Bullies Be Gone system — Personal Life Bundle
This collection of books and CDs brings together all the elements and resources you need to create a bully-free environment in your personal life:
* “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” – soft cover.
* “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids: Stop School Bullies in Their Tracks” – soft cover.
* “Bullies Below the Radar” – soft cover.
* “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” plus “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” – 10-CDs.
The Bullies Be Gone system — Professional Life Bundle
This collection of books and CDs brings together all of the elements and resources you need to create a bully-free environment in your professional life:
* “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes” – 3-CDs + Workbook.
* “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” – soft cover.
* “Bullies Below the Radar” – soft cover.
* 12 bonus articles on how to deal successfully with bullies in the workplace.
~~~ "Create an isle of song in a sea of shouts." Rabindranath Tagore ~~~
We'll make it easy for you to get copies for everyone on your gift list by shipping directly to them. Simply order the number of copies you want and immediately send me an e-mail with the addresses of each of your lucky friends. In addition, if you recently purchased one of the items in the system and want to get the rest now, e-mail me and I'll give you a special discount on “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and the 10-CD set.
Of course, you can also get the personal coaching you need for your specific situation.
Are you dieting? Have you noticed that everyone has advice about the best ways to stop? The advice-givers also think they know best for people who are trying to quit smoking or stop drinking.
For example, Tammy is dieting again. She’s tried losing weight before, even succeeded, but has always gained it back. This time she’s more determined. Her friend Helen says she knows best. She tells Tammy that she must eat big meals to celebrate every small success, like when she loses a few pounds. If Tammy follows her advice, Helen will know that Tammy is really her good friend.
You’ve seen the same pattern when smokers push cigarettes on a friend who’s trying to quit. Or when a drinker gets upset and pushes drinks on a friend who’s trying to stop drinking.
Of course there are many more difficulties to losing weight, quitting smoking or stopping drinking, but I want to focus on this one part of the total effort.
We could easily say that people who want to lose weight shouldn’t listen to the Helens in the world, people quitting smoking shouldn’t listen to supposed friends who tempt them with cigarettes, and people trying to stop drinking shouldn’t accept free drinks from pushers.
But I’d like to show you how to use the Nine Circles of Trust technique in this situation. Instead of trying to answer questions about whether Helen is a true friend, Tammy simply started listing what anyone would have to do to move from the distant ninth circle, into the eighth circle closer to her, or closer still into the seventh circle, and even into closer circles. The closer Tammy allows them to come, the more likely she is to listen to their opinions or advice.
During this listing, Tammy realized that she didn’t want to allow into her personal space, anyone who pushes food on her, whatever their reasons, excuses or justifications. Even if they threaten Tammy with the loss of a so-called friendship, her commitment to her diet comes first. If Helen continues to push food down Tammy’s throat, Tammy must get Helen’s opinion out of her face. That may mean getting Helen out of her space.
Tammy says she’s open to people expressing an opinion on which diet worked best for them. But she’s not willing to listen to people trying to tempt, seduce or coerce her into doing what they may think best if it violates Tammy’s goals or standards. She won’t accept relentless arm-twisting from Helen. You can read more about what Tammy does in my book, “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks.”
Of course, most of us can be politely non-committal when someone offers a little friendly advice … one time. We can easily ignore the suggestion if we want, and they don’t push their opinions or standards repeatedly. But relentless bullying by people who think they know best and try to force us or emotionally blackmail us is different.
One key to the success of the Nine Circles process is that it shifts the focus from abstract discussions of friendship and trust, and converts them into your taking charge of the specific actions (and opinions) that you’ll allow in your personal space.
A general question to ponder: should you blindly follow relationship advice from your massage therapist who has been in an endless series of one night stands after four failed marriages? Or should you blindly follow spending directions from your orthopedic surgeon who thinks the only worthwhile activity in life is Scuba diving in New Zealand? How being assaulted by parenting advice from people whose children are selfish, arrogant, obnoxious and don’t respect them?
These people may have expertise in one area of life, but they don’t know best about other areas – especially for you. If you continue to allow their opinions into your space, it’s like allowing them to continue to stick pins in your body. Eventually, the insult and pain will wear you down.
Instead, use the 9 Circles of Trust exercise to decide what standards are yours and what opinions to let into your space.
Where else could you benefit from the 9 Circles of Trust process?
Whether you’re thinking of personal relationships or the workplace or you’re teaching your children, how can you know who to trust?
Some people think that it’s morally and spiritually advanced to start by trusting everyone. You’re somehow a bad person if you don’t trust people. After all, you get what you put out. Other people say that everyone is out to get whatever they can so you should start by trusting no one.
Where do you usually begin? And do you have any horror stories of people who trusted too much or too little? Or heart-warming stories when trusting won over a previously un-trustworthy person?
Read more and you’ll learn about the 9 circles of trust – a process for getting around the unanswerable, philosophical trust-question.
Seventeen year-old Abby doesn’t know what to do with her boyfriend or whether she should trust her step-father. She grew up knowing men were not worthy of trust. Her father bailed on the family when she was six, leaving her mother with Abby and three younger children. They never heard from him, but Abby knows he took all the money. Her mother worked hard, but it was years before they could get on their feet. Abby saw a succession of boyfriends take advantage of her mother; bullying and abusing her, and verbally intimidating the children. The men were selfish and self-centered; real narcissists.
Her mother finally found a great guy. They’ve been married for eight years and Tim has been wonderful to her mother and all the children. It’s as if his heart has adopted them even though they’re not his biological children. He spends his money on them as if they were his real family. He helps around the house. He’s always there for Abby, her mother and the other kids through their emotional ups and downs. He attends all their functions and has gotten Abby in the middle of the night when she’s needed help. He’d even support her if she went to college. Should Abby trust Tim or is he going to turn out just like the other men?
Abby’s 22 year-old boyfriend is demanding, abusive, intimidating and controlling. He blows up when she doesn’t do what he wants. He says he proves his love by being insanely jealous and insisting that she doesn’t go to college because she might meet other guys. He doesn’t work and says he needs her support to get his life together after the terrible treatment he suffered at the hands of his parents. He even wants her to drop out of high school now so she can get a job and they can live together. With her help, he might be able to stop drinking and smoking dope. Since he says he loves her and would be lost without her, how can she not trust him?
But when people started complaining and leaving, he promised he’d change. He’d be more understanding, kind and caring. Liz had begun to look for another job, but now she wonders if she should trust him. Notice that while this looks different from Abby, it has the same key question: should Lizzie trust her boss?
I’ll use Abby to describe how the Nine Circles of Trust method works. Think how Liz could apply it at work or someone could teach her daughter how to apply it to the other kids at school.
With coaching, Abby sees that she’s making a problem for herself by looking at trust in the old way – should she trust someone or not. What’s more useful is for her to develop an accurate, realistic prediction of what another person is likely to do, based on their past behavior. The more accurate her estimations are, the more she can trust her estimates. That’s what trust is about: trusting her accurate estimations.
Abby also makes a problem for herself when she thinks the question with her boyfriend is whether or not he loves her. She’s better off when she decides how she’d like to be loved (what behavior would make her feel loved) and then tests whether or not her boyfriend treats her that way. It doesn’t matter what he calls it. What matters is whether he treats her the way she defines love.
In order to develop a repeatable process, she imagines herself at the center of a bull’s eye. She makes nine circles of trust getting further and further out from her; like she’s at the center of a target. She writes how someone would have to behave in order for her to allow them to move from the furthest limit to one circle closer. Actually, she makes different lists: one for her stepfather, one for her boyfriend and one for a girl at school. At this distance, her tests for whether she’ll allow them closer are about non-threatening, physical behavior: no hitting, throwing things or physical abuse.
Then she makes lists of how they’d have to act in order for her to let them into the next closer circle. At this distance, it’s about polite, civil behavior; not stealing her things, lying, bad mouthing her, yelling, threats or intimidation.
Then she makes a list for admission to the next closer circle. And so on, closer each time. Now she’s ready to decide how, for example, her boyfriend has acted and which circle she’ll put him in.
Abby’s shocked at her estimation of him. She puts her boyfriend into the ninth circle. He’s a bully and she won’t allow him any closer. Despite her previous experience with her biological father and her mother’s rotten boyfriends, she brings her stepfather right next to her. He has proven himself during eight years, despite lots of bad behavior from her.
Some of the other important considerations when using this process are:
Adjust the prices of admission (the tests) to each circle as you learn more.
Ignore reasons, excuses, justifications, pleading and coercion – base your estimates on actions.
Be open to surprises (good and bad).
Move people further away when they act bad.
Keep people in their previous position even if they do one thing nice – recognize established patterns.
You may move a particular person closer or further away depending on the circumstances – for example, you might go to a party with someone, but never lend them money.