I cant go into too much detail, but I ran into a bully today. It had been so long I had almost forgotten how to deal with these creeps. This wasn’t the school yard variety, but one whose perception of power had gone wayyyyy beyond what he actually had. He was an older gentleman, probably in his 50’s about 4 inches shorter than me and clearly was well versed in bully tactics- which is to threaten. Bullies know (perhaps not consciously) that the threat is often more powerful than whatever it is they are threatening you with. Ive dealt with bullies at school, on the football field, professors, customer service representatives, etc etc etc.
For the most part, Ive learned that the best thing to do with bullies is to turn the other cheek and try to avoid them or deal with someone else if you can, usually their supervisor, but occasionally it is necessary to take care of them and it feels dang good to metaphorically punch them in the mouth and watch them walk away with their tail between their legs. This is a second truth with bullies….as soon as you stand up to them they will back down.
I was turning in some information to one particular ex-landlord, just doing my part, and the dude flips out. There he was…..a 50 year old man, yelling and screaming at me (yes, he used swear words) for something that he had no power to complain about. He even stepped toward me as if he was getting ready to hit me….ha!
I took a step toward him, leaned in and asked in a sarcastic tone: “What are you gonna do…..hit me?”
I watched his face as he backed up and looked me over. Im nothing compared to what I was when I was playing football, but Im still 6’2″ 225lbs and workout just about everyday. I watched as something clicked in his brain and he quickly turned around and retreated. So unprofessional……
I hate conflict, I would much rather be a peacemaker (which I am 99% of the time) and just get on with my life…I dont have time for negativity. It is a fact of life though, bullies exist- we are unfortunate to have to interact with them.
The best ways to deal with bullies are:
#1. Always keep your cool. Never swear, threaten or yell. To anyone watching, the person freaking out is the irrational one. I know it is hard not to lose it when some misguided soul is yelling at you, but just trust me on this….stay calm. If the bully has a supervisor, ask to speak with them, dont waste time with them. If none is available:
#2. Obtain evidence to turn the tables. Leverage the bullies inability to stay calm, by indicating the conversation is now being recorded, and you intend to “Climb the ladder”. By doing this, you will turn the tables immediately. If it is in person pull out a piece of paper and start asking questions. (If you are on the phone tell them you are now recording the phone call, even if you arent, the threat is more frightening than the actual idea you are):
“What’s your name? What is the name of your supervisor? What is his telephone number? When can I reach him?”
In 99% of the cases, they will hesitate to give you this information, when they do you say as you write:
“Im sorry, please slow down a little I am trying to write all this down (and write it down word for word), reading it back to them. It will definitely get their attention and their tune will change quickly. I even think there is a video on YouTube about a cop threatening some kid, and when the cop realized he had a camera recording, he backed down immediately. You dont need to tell them what you will do with the information, let them wonder.
#3- If there is no supervisor (ie- this is the top dog) Whatever it is they are threatening you with, call them on it, but not directly. Do it in creative ways, so if it’s law suits or whatever say things like: “awww…..cute!”, “you must be under a lot of stress in your personal life”, “you know….they have medications for your problem”, “do you normally get all bent out of shape?” or anything that implies they arent acting normal. In some cases, to threaten them in the way they threaten you will end it, but it really does depend on what it is….and only if there is no superior ala #2. The key is to psychologically defeat them by putting them on the defensive. Bullies are trying to bluff you to collapse mentally. Dont take it. When they see that they cannot shake you mentally, you have won.
It was so much easier in grade school…….With a last name like Shiffler, you can only imagine all the names I was called, it was so much easier to just punch the guy in the nose.