9 Tactics Bullies Use to “Rattle” Their Targets and What You Can Do to Counter Them

physical bullying

Close-up of woman in black T-shirt is cracking her knuckles gesturing willful and ready for doing something; or in another side; the bad behavior when in tension; concept of health care and medical.

Before getting violent, bullies will often try to rattle their targets to intimidate them and throw them off balance.

Here are tactics bullies use (The first 8 are done most often in school settings):

1. deliberately knocking over your drink and spilling it

2. plucking a piece of food off your plate and popping it in their mouths at lunch.

3. kicking your books, backpack or purse over with their foot

4. fling your hair back

5. flick your nose with one finger

6. give you a non-friendly slap on the back

7. shoulder-shove you as they walk past you during in the hall or parking lot

8. knock your hat or cap off your head.

9. Workplace bullies will sometimes knock files or papers off your desk. It isn’t unheard of.

Understand that in doing things such as these, the bully is looking for a fight or reaction! Why else would he invade your space or territory? He is clearly trying to provoke you!

bullying bring it provocation

Emoticon inviting to fight. Emoticon showing opened fists to beckon someone to engage in a fight.

Here are a few other tactics bullies will try.

1. stand with feet apart and open their arms wide, making a T-stance. By doing this, the bully is telling you to “Bring it” or “Come on, I dare you.”

2. Making deliberate, sudden movements toward you, such as draw back at you and act like he is going to punch you just to get a reaction and watch you flinch. Or they may suddenly lunge at you, stop themselves and laugh.

This is a favorite of bullies and they make these deliberate attacks to cause you to flinch. They then stand back and laugh, claiming that your perfectly normal, human reaction is proof that you’re scared of them and don’t have the guts to fight them back.

3. Bullies may do mock physical attacks such as dancing around the room, shadow boxing. In doing this, the bully is clearly showing what he wants to do to you.

Understand that when bullies toy with you, they really want to square off. See it for what it is and call it out as it is.

The best defense against this is calling the bully out. Here’s what you say:

“Do you realize how stupid you look?” or
“Wow! You look like a total lunatic!”
, “whack-job”, etc.

Understand that the best way to counter a bully, in this situation, is to insult his intelligence or sanity and preferably in front of an audience.

Nine times out of ten, the bully will back off because bullies absolutely despise looking like fools and being called out on it.

The more you know!

4 thoughts on “9 Tactics Bullies Use to “Rattle” Their Targets and What You Can Do to Counter Them

  1. Yep one of my coworker bullies would “fake” punch at me. One day she went too far and actually struck me. Since it could and likely would be viewed as assault (which is an offense that results in termination) she became very apologetic and basically begged me and the rest of the people in the break room to not turn her in. It became the turning point. She didn’t even jokingly make those moves again.

  2. I think in front of an audience is best, looking at them like they have two heads. If there is a friendly face or at least an uncommitted one, saying, “Does he do this very often?”

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