How do you overcome bullying by talking to the person bullying you?
Trust us, we know it may seem counter-intuitive to speak to somebody who is making your life a misery, but we have found that it can be a hugely successful strategy for resolving any issues with bullying and breakdowns in communication.
More often than not, somebody may not fully understand that what they are doing is genuinely having an impact on those around them and as such, talking can be the ultimate antidote.
Why do people bully? Top 4 reasons
Some of the most common reasons why people bully others include:
- It’s used as a coping mechanism and response to something stressful going on in their lives
- Because they are insecure and are trying to detract away from themselves by focusing on somebody else
- They are jealous or feel like you are in some way superior to them – instead of competitive behaviour, they have become abusive
- Because they are worried they won’t be accepted by their peers if they don’t do it
The reason you are being bullied is never because of something to do with you. Although they will often choose something about you and target that. It could be how you look, your skin colour, sexuality or a disability – the list is endless. Please try to remember that you have done nothing wrong and there is nothing you need to change.
We hope that this advice will help you to resolve your own issues, without relying on other people. You’re almost guaranteed to resolve most conflicts and relationship breakdowns with the following steps, so even if you’re not being bullied – they are good life tips anyway.
What to say to somebody who is bullying you – 10 golden rules
The thing to remember about bullying is the fact that the people who are doing it are often incredibly vulnerable and it’s usually a cry for help to highlight that there is a bigger issue. It is therefore important to try and compassionately understand their reasoning and headspace.
Most of the time, it will be impossible to know without asking, what exactly is going on. There could be issues at home, or perhaps they are struggling with their own identity and confidence. They may not even tell you what the issue is, and that’s okay. Just know that people who are perfectly happy and confident will never go out of their way to bully somebody.
Sometimes it may be unsafe to speak to somebody who is bullying you, particularly if you feel it will put you or somebody else in immediate risk of harm. In this case, rule 3 is where it’s at. If you feel safe speaking to them, skip through to rule 4.
Especially when the situation is more serious, it may be better to use a mediator. This is essentially when a third person (usually an adult, but not always) will facilitate a conversation between the person being bullied and the person doing the bullying to ensure that everything is managed properly and safely. Mediators are trained to ensure that both sides get to speak and will work to ensure that the issue is resolved. Mediators are available through some schools and colleges and in more serious cases, where a crime is involved, the police.
It’s always better to speak to somebody alone. Particularly if there is a ringleader in a group of people who seems to be leading the bullying. Often they will be doing it for positive reinforcement from their mates because they feel like their relationships are based on the condition that they behave in a certain way, so if you eliminate the rest of the group, you will have a very different dynamic.
5. Do it somewhere neutral
We know it may seem scary, but trust us, they will feel scared too. This is why it’s important that the conversation happens in a neutral space. I.e. somewhere where neither of you is attached, such as a public park or Starbucks. Plus, if there are other people around, it will likely make you feel safer and it will help you with rules 6 and 7…
6. Don’t shout. Ever
You’re angry and emotional, we get it, but it’s likely that they are also hurting, too. No issue is ever resolved through arguing. We each have our own individual ego and we like to think that we are always right, therefore it is only natural to defend yourself when somebody threatens your ego. If somebody is up in your face and aggressive, your natural instinct will usually be to defend yourself by shouting louder to get your point across. It doesn’t ever work. If you feel your anger levels increasing, take some time out and deep breaths. It might sound cliché but it does work.
Understand that it is normal to get angry and to want to shout, but right now it isn’t going to benefit you.
7. Don’t retaliate to shouting
This goes hand-in-hand with rule 6. It is possible that the other person will start shouting. If they do, stop talking and let them shout whatever they want to. Once they have finished, talk normally and calmly (we know how challenging this will be, but trust us). It will come as a shock because they will be expecting you to shout back at them. They will gradually start to lower their voice and you will maintain complete control over the situation.
8. Make it equal
For this to really work, both parties need to be equally involved in it. It will never work out in your favour if you lecture them on how you feel and how their behaviour is upsetting you. There’s a much better chance of resolving things if you encourage two-way conversation. Ask them how they are and ask if you have ever done anything to upset them. Listen to them as much as you talk to them, because, ultimately we all like to feel heard. This also branches out to the power balance, it should always be equal. It isn’t about you telling them off and it isn’t about them intimidating you into submission.
Stand your ground when necessary, but also be prepared to step down when you have good reason to. The fact of the matter is, nobody, not even your parents/guardians (as much as they like to believe) are right 100% of the time. We all make mistakes and that’s okay.
9. Build an agenda
This will help you with rules 6-8 and it’s really easy to do. Whenever we have a meeting at Ditch the Label, we will usually write up an agenda of the things we want to talk about before we go into that meeting. This helps guide the meeting in the right direction and also means that we very rarely forget things that we were meant to talk about.
10. What is the end goal?
Are you doing it because you want an argument and want to alleviate stress on them or are you doing it because you want to resolve the situation? Because they are very different things. You will, unfortunately, have to agree to disagree on things. It may even turn out that they have been annoyed at something you have done in the past but you think they are over-reacting. That’s okay. If you want to add fuel to the fire and make things worse, argue it out and battle egos – but honestly, it won’t do you any justice.
Sometimes it is easier to sit back, listen and apologise for anything that you have done which may have upset them. It’s a good idea to start the conversation with something like “Thanks for meeting me today. I wanted to talk to you alone because I feel like there is a lot of tension between us both and I would really love it if we could hopefully overcome any tensions together. Is that okay?”.
Never lose track of the end goal, even when things get heated. It may also be an idea to not accuse them of bullying you, instead tell them how their behaviour is having an impact on you. We all have a different definition of bullying and what it means to bully somebody and it’s likely they will become defensive if you start to call them a bully. Plus, nobody is ever a bully, it’s just a behaviour which can and does change.
We know that it can be really scary when talking to somebody who is making your life a living hell, but the only thing worse is ignoring it and allowing yourself to feel so bad over a long period of time.
We use these rules in our own lives and can honestly say that at the end of the conversations, we usually come out feeling really positive and great. It’s a huge weight off your shoulders and you will always be surprised at what you will learn about the other person – you may have more in common than you may think.
If you’re being bullied and need to talk – join our community and speak with a digital mentor or other members of the community – together we can and will help you!