When it comes to bullying we generally look at it like it’s black and white. Bullying is bad, dead simple. Unfortunately we don’t always see the ways that we bully people without even realising. Sometimes it’s a jokingly snarky comment, or even joshing about a person’s flaws. The thing is, it can be even more discreet than that. Sometimes we secretly bully, not secret to others, secret to ourselves; and it’s not as black and white as external or environmental bullying; which I’ll elaborate on.
Environmental bullying is bullying people because they are different. Different in a way that changes the bully’s environment, hence why it’s external. These factors include religion, skin colour, race, culture, political views etc. These factors generally create a mob mentality in people who have a difference to the victim but similarities to other people who feel the same way about that difference i.e. bullies will gang up on someone in this situation because they feel threatened by the difference the other person has.
Internal or character bullying differs because it’s an attack on the person’s qualities and lifestyle as opposed to their beliefs, colour and culture. A person’s character are not a direct threat to a person’s environment, but the bullying occurs because of a personality difference. Generally the bully will attack the victim for something the bully excels at but the victim does not. In saying that in this circumstance bullies will bully other bullies; and people will bully without realising they’re doing it.
Internal bullying varies due to seven personality differences. Most personality differences are attributed because of specific abilities a person has; however, the differences that effect how people bully are value based. What people value is a separate dynamic to what they excel at doing. One aspect of your personality makes you suitable for a role, but another aspect effects how you perform that role. This is based on motivation as opposed to aptitude. There are seven types of motivation found in people. I’m not going to discuss them in depth but I will discuss the negative effect they can have when used as a tool to bully.
The first on this list is discouragement. People who discourage others have an ability to spot when people are energetic and full of zest or downtrodden. Essentially they have the ability to pinpoint someone’s confidence level. Bullies who discourage will find “tall poppies” and attempt to cut them down. The main issue that arises here is when their observation is misplaced and the person they believe to be “fake” or stuck up is actually depressed and suffering just like a lot of other people. This is the most common cause of internet bullying and the increasingly occurring suicides that seem to be following.
The next is estimating. Estimaters judge people for their hygiene, appearance and their financial situation. These people lord their looks and money over others, sometimes unwittingly. There are times they try to solve someone’s “problems” by making suggestions which are simple to themselves but completely unachievable for the other person, making them have even worse self-esteem. These people are generally quite good at managing money and judge other people’s spending often.
The next is the Alpha. Alphas are generally larger, stronger or more physically capable than their victims. They pick on people for being weak and will often push the victim into making the confrontation physical in an attempt to show off their dominance. They aren’t easily stood up to and find the physical challenge another opportunity to prove themselves “in charge”.
Next are know-it-alls. Know-it-alls plague the internet almost as much as dicouragers. Constantly correcting grammar, challenging people’s beliefs or ideas; these people endeavour to prove people’s stupidity to themselves. They have little to no empathy which makes them very dangerous to people who are quite sensitive and it makes them relentless. They always have to win the argument and they drive people away from social media and make people feel like they’re not worthy to open up in their personal life either.
Next is the judgmentalist. Judgmentalists are the people that strongly believe in a person’s lifestyle being “wrong”. Their religion is wrong, their lifestyle is wrong, the victim is bad news. They go around spreading rumours and talking ill of the victim to keep people from being “tainted”. These people are the typical bad guy in any story based around magic, curses and religion. Their misplaced self-righteousness isolates the victim from not only the people the bully knows directly but it also makes the victim feel tainted like the bully says they are. These bullies are the most persuasive in making a victim question themselves about their choices and their worth.
Next are emotives. Emotives bully people because of their emotional reactions. These people tend to be the most likely to have been bullied or abused previous to being a bully. Merciless, vicious, antagonising are a few words to describe them. They know how to hit people where it hurts and then they play at snowballing the situation when there’s the reaction they’re after. They make people miserable to try to sate their own misery.
Last are observers. Observers are the people who are normally the top bully in a social setting. The reason they’re so successful is they are able to identify and attack every minor flaw in a person’s character. They don’t simply bully something physical about a person, they bully the person’s identity, the flaws they can’t just get rid of. This gives this particular bully almost endless fuel for the fire. They also bully other bullies. They use their skills to make themself top dog. Their ability to attack a person’s identity the way they do makes them excellent at sabotaging anyone they please to get what they want. They generally don’t waste their time bullying the lowest victims but will endlessly bully people to defend their own position.
So that’s it, there they are. By now you’ll probably recognise a few. Now you may be asking, ‘so what do we do about it?’ Well, the answer is painfully simple. Don’t give them what they want. It’s so hard but it’s as simple as not giving the reaction the bully wants. Most bullies either want you to be submissive or aggressive (so they can put you in “your place”), but the key is essentially ignoring them. This may sound like too simple of an answer but I used to be a bully. I can tell you that when people responded with, “Yeah, ok.” And walked off. It stopped me in my tracks. Now I understand this doesn’t work in every situation. However, another method involves empathy. Now I know this sounds even worse but the fact is the bully is a human too. If you can figure out why they are bullying everyone you can often be the person they need in their life. The most important lesson I learned about bullies is that broken people break people. People don’t just bully for the sake of it, usually they get abused themselves.
As Abraham Lincoln said,
Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?
It really can be that simple. I’ve done it, many times. Bullying is not always as back and white as we try to make it. In order to be successful against bullying we need to have both self-esteem and empathy. How do we get self-esteem? By getting to know who we are.
You may be thinking that I’ve just thrown a spanner in the works by saying that you need self-esteem to stop bullies. It’s almost chicken and the egg; but self-esteem is simple: you need to discover yourself. You need to discover the parts of you that give you abilities that other people you know don’t have. How? You may ask. In all honesty see a therapist, a psychologist, or look at personality testing like MBTI or archetypes. Find your strengths and learn to be proud of them. Self-esteem isn’t about being proud of what you do but of who you are.
Be the best you that you can be.