When I started my professional life as a psychologist I went to a major bookstore and pulled several children’s books off the shelves about bullying. I needed some strategies to offer kids that I met in my office. As I thought through the bullying phenomena, I decided that there are three types of bullies and that that they require different responses from us.
Type 1: The powder puff bully
This type of bully is mostly show. They don’t mind pushing others around, but are not seriously looking for any type of conflict. They will back down quickly if they perceive that you have enough confidence to stand up to them at all. An example of this type of bullying may be seen in an older person who has become used to having their own way, but who realizes that they are unable to actually push very hard for their wishes to be met. This bully is not a problem. If you decide you wish to resist them, then simply do so and they will deflate, possibly even becoming obsequious.
Type 2: The average bully
The average bully is a little harder to deal with. They have some confidence that they can push others around or make them feel bad about themselves. However, when they run into someone who will resist them effectively they will back down in self preservation. They will not escalate a bullying episode until the stakes become dangerous for themselves. It’s not worth it to them. They would rather find an easier target.
These bullies can be resisted if you need to and want to. (I’ll suggest some strategies in the next post.)
Type 3: The professional bully
This type of bully is a big problem. He feels so bad about himself and so angry that he is out of control. He is a very self-destructive individual who would get into a knife fight about a parking space. With this type of bully the thing to do is to cut your losses and leave, no matter what type of shame he throws your way. Give him the parking space or the apology he wants and get away from him. He is willing to go way further than you will want to go. Do not go down with him as he continues to destroy his life.
Bully Rule #2 is: Identify the type of bully you are dealing with and gauge your response accordingly.
One last post on this topic follows…