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Adult Bullying and Ways to Recognize It

This topic came up in the forums of the mommies network yesterday and I happened to run across this today at  SUCH an informative and great site.  I could probably spend hours reading over posts. 

Here are five ways to recognize the sings of being bullied by another adult as well as some techniques for diffusing the situation.

  1. Being Yelled At. Bullying is generally defined as an attempt to coerce someone through intimidation and that’s not limited to physical force. If someone is screaming at you, you’re definitely being bullied. It seems obvious, but it’s strange how often people will remain deep into relationships in which verbal force is a key player. This is a sensitive issue that can often escalate into physical force and it’s an occasion where you probably need to seek outside help. If it’s a work situation, document it and go to HR. If it’s a domestic situation, find a good counselor to help you evaluate your next step.

2. Getting Loads of Deconstructive Criticism. It’s tricky because you have to know the difference between someone being constructive in an effort to help you do something better and someone undervaluing your efforts. For the most part, I would suggest that unless it’s a boss or a co-worker, unsolicited criticism from your friends is questionable. If you feel you’re being unfairly criticized, say something. If you think the criticism is fair, but don’t like delivery you should mention that, too. A good friend will back down, give you space to live life on your own terms and, most importantly, support you.

3. You Don’t Think It’s That Funny. Look, I came of age in the late 80s and early 90s, and I’m pretty we were the generation that invented the phrase “whatEVER.” Still, it doesn’t matter how masterfully a sarcastic quip is constructed, if it hurts your feelings, it isn’t okay. Remind Daria that you really like her and know she’s trying to be funny, but she’s starting to hurt your feelings.

  4. Exclusion, Gossip and Rumors. If it feels like you’re in high school, that’s a bad sign. The best way to combat this type of bullying is to refuse to participate. This proves difficult because one of the quickest ways to bond with someone is in a mutual disdain for a third party. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. Ask yourself about the last time you found out someone was Team Angie/Team Jennifer like you. How much more did you like them after they agreed with you? Next time someone tries to pass on a rumor about someone else, remember that you’re probably next. As good as it feels to be part of a clique, it’s really important to move on.

5. Competitiveness. Healthy competition is wonderful. Unhealthy competition is not. Signs of unhealthy competition rears itself in an inability to praise or feel joy in the accomplishments of others, being the subject of high levels of scrutiny and outright jealousy. For the most part, being in a relationship with someone who is constantly evaluating their own performance against yours isn’t just exhausting, it’s toxic. In this case, if simply moving on isn’t an option (I don’t know, maybe it’s your sister-in-law or something?), then the best thing is to just keep your distance and your accomplishments to yourself. You know you’re doing good, that’s all that matters, right?

  The word “bully” is loaded and has taken on so many different meanings over the last few years. Despite all the nuances, though, there is a basic definition regarding the behavior that most will agree on. Bullying makes a person feel bad about themselves. It’s an attempt by someone who feels small to create a false sense of bigness. The best way to teach your children how to navigate this journey safely is to step out bravely and check the path yourself.

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