On the Subject of Bullies

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Bullies - we don't like them.
I don't like bullies.

My Hot Mom taught me from an early age that standing up to a bully is always the right thing to do, because by doing so, even when you lose, you win. So the easiest way to put me in a pugilistic stance is to try and bully me into doing what you want.

This is not to say that I'm averse to changing my mind or acceding to reasonable requests. Far from it. If someone makes a case for change, I'm more than willing to listen to their argument and change my mind and/or my behavior if their points are compelling. Because being an inflexible prig is almost as bad as being a bully. Almost.

But if an individual fails to make their case, then it's unlikely I'm going to go out of my way to do what they want, just because they want it. And if they try to bully me into doing what they want after I've said "no," then it's extremely likely that my next impulse is to start swinging the Shovel of Doom™, aiming for their face. At the very least, I'm going to call them out on their bullying, again and again, for as long as they continue the behavior and I'm exposed to them. Because doing so is always the right thing to do.

One thing I've noticed about bullies, though, is that they usually have no effing idea how to handle someone like me. They're so used to relying on their particular brand of aggressiveness to get what they want, that when they're stymied, they're at a complete loss as to how to proceed. It reminds me of a Dr. Who quote: "It's been a long time since anyone's said no to you, isn't it?" And I have to admit, there's a part of me that finds this reaction more than a little satisfying.

Standing up to bullies makes me tired. But it's important. As my friend Jim notes over at Stonekettle Station in his post about "Why I Talk to Loons," silence is acceptance. When someone adopts a bullying posture and no one speaks, the bully gets what they want, there's no correction to their behavior, and it just goes on and on and on. I'm not willing to let it go on and on and on.

2 comments:

Jeri said...

"One thing I've noticed about bullies, though, is that they usually have no effing idea how to handle someone like me."

This, exactly! And in fact, their initial shock at running into the brick wall that is me is almost as much entertainment as dinner and a movie.

As an aside, but related, have you had people (usually women, I hate to say) tell you they wish they could stand up to people like you do? I've always found it depressing to realize that so many people are silent and easy to push around because of a lack of confidence or a misplaced sense of decorum.

Janiece said...

Jeri, it's funny you should mention that. In the last month, I've had no fewer than three colleagues call me privately to thank me for my "standing up to bullies" policy and execution. And yes, it is depressing.