Bullies are a special type of control freak. At first glance it might appear like they are the meaner and more forceful type but when you analyse their behaviour the truth is quite different.
Adults often tell kids who are being bullied that the bullies are actually weak at heart and you can stand up to them, something that kids being bullied find it hard to believe. ‘Weak’ is half right but it’s not just about their strength of personality, it’s about them being incompetent control freaks. Yes that’s right, bullies are the special class of control freaks who for one reason or another are so useless at all the other techniques that control freaks utilise that they become bullies out of sheer desperation. They’ve tried everything else and it didn’t work so this is all they have left.
The particular behaviours that mark out bullies are reasonably easy to spot:
- They take offense, but not like an ordinary person. No these apparently are the most sensitive individuals in the world because they find almost anything you do or say offensive, even the tiniest little nuance. Their offense is like a raging torrent in that it rushes upon them so quickly you can barely finish the sentence and it comes with such deep anger that you can see it clearly in their countenance.
Of course this is all deliberate and not the deep emotional response they want you to believe. They want you to think that you’ve broken some fundamental rule and every human would have the same visceral response to that. It’s your fault not theirs, you completely overstepped the mark and their emotions prove it beyond doubt because only something really bad could trigger a response like this.
From that response they now have the perfect excuse for what they are going to do next. That’s the weak part of their personality because they only way they can get the strength to do what they are going to do is by creating an overwhelming justification, which you or those around buy into. A strong person would do what they are going to do without having to create such a weight of justification.
One of the first steps in preventing bullying is not to buy into them taking offense and let them and others know that. You can ignore it, reject it or even tell them to stop being so sensitive. I can’t guarantee it will work but I’ve seen many bullies when faced with this barrier, scrabble round desperately to try to persuade people that their emotional response was real and justified.
- They’re nasty. With a bully there are no areas off limits, no rules of engagement, no code of conduct. They can and will go anywhere, say anything, do anything to hurt. As far as they are concerned this is all justified because you were the one who took the gloves off by overstepping the mark and so all they’re doing is following suit.
There’s no point trying to appeal to their higher nature, or calm them down, which normally only makes things worse. That’s because they think you are trying to change the rules now that someone is giving you a dose of your own medicine. You showed no mercy in overstepping the mark so how dare you now expect it of others. You deserve what you’re going to get.
- They like to do things in private. In particular it is important for them to take offense in private if they intend to display the emotions in public. They want the onlookers to see them upset without judging for themselves what got them so upset. It also means that they can lie to anyone who asks what got them so upset.
While some bullies are so weak they have to display the emotions in public to build a case for their later actions, some don’t want people to think of them as emotional and so hide that too, in which case they’ll be nasty in private too. Whenever someone has done that to me I’ve had to remind myself that just because they kept it private, doesn’t mean I should keep it private too and so I tell all sorts of people just to break the spell.
So there we have it – bullies are often bullies because they are incompetent control freaks. Truly pathetic.