Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not Ready to Speak Up to the Bully?

Don't want to speak up to the bully yet? Too scared? Too unsure? Don't worry. There's actually something you can say that's not quite a comeback, but it's not just "taking it" either. It's called, "Parroting." You don't have to feel brave or sure of yourself to do this. When someone bullies you, either at work, home or school, you just state what happened, or what she said, in a question, without making a judgment about it. This technique allows you to speak up enough so you show the bully you noticed a criticism or a slur, but requires very little courage to pull off. You merely parrot what she just said back to her. Here's an example. Your boss has nit-picked a lot lately. You are collating and binding multiple folders. It's a process that your boss, Jan, normally pays no attention to. She has never timed anyone else's work, because everyone, including you, always does this quickly. You've noticed she has been nit-picking you for little things for several months, and you've never said anything to her about it. You've hoped she would stop on her own. And besides, it's not "that bad." Maybe she's had trouble with her husband or her kids, and it has nothing to do with you. (By the way, these explanations to ourselves only allow bullying to continue.) Today, you finish in your usual amount of time. But Jan decides to criticize you. Now, she's openly critical, you use "Parrotting" "That took you an awful long time.You are going to have to pick up your pace around here." That's unfair, you think. I'll try what I read in Abbey's article the other day. "I am taking too long? And I am going to have to pick up my pace?" You look at her emotionless without confronting or backing down either. "Yeah, just try to speed it up a little." Meanwhile, she sees that you "notice" she's being critical, and are mildly taking issue with it. She could get madder and escalate her criticizing, that happens sometimes. You can always excuse yourself from her presence if it does. The other thing that she could do is make a snide comment about an echo, or about the repeat back to her. You maintain your passive stance with a simple, "No echo." Or you reply, "Just a question." But more often than not,when you parrot back what she's saying, it's not necessarily challenging to her. Why? In her own mind, she's not being that critical of you. To her, there's nothing wrong with her words. In fact, she may feel she's hiding her distaste for you rather well. Hearing them back may not sound all that bad to her. It's the fact that you repeat what she said, not her words, that give her notification you may not quite agree with what she said. It throws her off a little, if it doesn't completely stop her. She back pedals a bit, "Just so you know, for future reference." It may not stop her completely. But you'll have registered your objection for her benefit ... and for yours. So, what are the benefits to you for doing it this way? First, it shows her you're not a doormat who will take anything she dishes out. Repeating what she says is both gentle and noticeable. It may discourage more bullying ... a little. A little is better than no discouragement. Second, it requires very little thinking on your part. You just use her words verbatim as a question back to her. Very simple to do. You don't have to be the least bit creative. You don't have to memorize a comeback. The bully hands you what to say when she puts you down. It's right there for you to turn back on her with a question. Third, and most important, you don't feel like a doormat. In fact, you feel pretty good. It feels good to register your opinion, no matter how subtle. It may leave you longing for more of that powerful feeling when you do assert yourself. You may like the way you feel so much that you'll want to speak up more. You can use "Parroting," over and over to repeat the high you get from just saying something back. It does work well. And it's appropriate for almost any bullying scenario. You'll think to yourself that you're not accomplishing that much as you say it, because it's not big or dramatic. No one cries, or feels bad. But just watch the bullies ease off. Every little bit helps.

Friday, May 30, 2008

2 Surefire Ways to Stop Early Bullying

What do you do when a bully makes only slightly mean comments to you? It's tempting to do nothing, but if you don't speak up now, in this early stage, you're in for more bullying. Check out my website, then read on here, for what to do instead.

Why more bullying, you wonder? Because she's testing you with "Pass-by Nibbles." If you don't stop her when she takes these testing nibbles, she will continue, just because she knows you 'll let her. But, don't feel badly, there are many good reasons why you don't nip it in the bud early on. One of them is that you simply don't know what to do or say.

Here are two suggestions.

#1 Make sure you catch it early when it first happens.

#2 Say a neutral, even amused comment, to show that you NOTICED it happened. That's it.

#1 Catch It Early

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to catch it early. Your success depends on it. Why? Because the less offended you are, the easier it is to find humor in a bully's nonsensical putdown of you. Really. You're not a bad person. You're as important as she is, so it's ridiculous when anyone else tries to make you feel unequal for any reason. It's absurd for a bully to try to make herself feel better at your expense. What divine power gave her that right? The earlier you see "The Pass-by Nibble" and stop it, the more amused you'll feel when a bully tries it. Early, you're un-invested-you haven't been stomped on repeatedly so you aren't holding a grudge, yet. She may not be holding one either, yet. When you first get to know people, you don't know who the bullies are. It's easy to be breezy. Later, it feels like every interaction you have with her is a fight to the finish…your finish. The stakes are higher, and you may feel intimidated by their importance. Hard to feel amused or light by then. Catching it early discourages the bully from escalating into more obvious and hurtful bullying. She sees you step up and say something to a minor offense. She may think you'll escalate your defense as well, which will require more stealth from her. She wants to get away with bullying, not be caught at it.

#2 Show That You Noticed

Speak up quickly with a neutral or even an amused comment. Showing a bully and the bystanders that you NOTICED an "off" remark is one of the most effective defenses I've ever used. No one wins or loses when you just "notice." It's not a "stand" or an argument. But it lets the bully know, with a neutral,offhand remark you won't tolerate further monkey business from her.

Here are some examples of "Pass by Nibbles" so you can recognize them better. You're left feeling badly after these:

  • a joke
  • a comment
  • a look
  • a voice
  • a tone
  • a body movement
  • an accidental bump
  • or, your stuff was moved without your permission.

A bully will use these later on too, when the bullying is in full swing. But early on, they are much more vague and subtle. The key to realize a "nibble" occurred is a letdown-type feeling. You don't know what happened, but it didn't feel good. You may even feel a little confused. So, now is the perfect time to speak up. Say something like these, but remember to keep it light:

"Excuse me? What did you say? You bumped me? Someone moved my___? Oh, another…. (joke, comment, bump)" No blame, no anger. Amused and light. Just so she knows you noticed. If she answers back and wants to engage you in an argument, you shrug with indifference. You can even leave the room casually. (See how I did this in my eBook) Everyone thinks that bullying is stopped in a show down. It's not. It's won best early on, in the "Pass-by Nibble" stage with gentle, non-confrontational statements and questions. Mild as they are, they speak volumes to the bully about what you will, and will not accept. You won't believe how I went from wimp-to winner-in a few short months! Read about it in, "Bully Blaster."