They’re the kinds of deception bullies love to practice. Bullies understand, perhaps more than anyone else, that a pure lie isn’t likely to be believed and would only discredit them. However, if they tell a half-truth, which is a lie that contains even a tiny grain of truth, people will more than likely believe it.
Exaggerations and distortions are perfect for bullies because there’s always a degree of truth to them. For example, a bully will provoke a target and keep provoking him/her until the target gets fed up and, in a low but angry growl, tells the bully to buzz off. The bully will then tell everyone else about the altercation, making sure to blow it up, and make it bigger than it was.
She tells others the target started the confrontation. She exaggerates what happened by telling others that the target screamed and cursed her out, being sure to leave out the part where she kept provoking the target and didn’t stop until the target get tired of her crap and told her to buzz off.
Also, instead of telling the truth, that the target told her to buzz off. The bully may distort it by saying that the target told her to f*** off instead.
Here’s another example. A bully supervisor tells a targeted employee to do a task. The targeted employee hasn’t yet completed the first task and he must complete it in the next thirty minutes to meet the deadline. The target tells the bully boss that he’ll get started on his request as soon as he’s finished his current task.
The bully boss goes back and distorts everything, He exaggerates the target’s response by telling management that the target refused to do the task and is being insubordinate, leaving out that the target told him that he would fulfill his request as soon as he got done with the task at hand. Management reprimands the target and gives him a write-up for insubordination, not knowing the whole story.
The two above scenarios are examples of exaggerations and distortions.
I’ll even give you a real-life example: Just after I wrote and published my memoir, “From Victim to Victor,” a former classmate bought it and read it. When she came to the part where two bullies, who happened to be her friends, died in a tragic car accident and I expressed in the book that, at the time, I didn’t care that the girls were dead and that they were two less bullies I’d have to deal with, she got angry and took it out of context.
I’ll be honest. Yes, at the time it happened, which was thirty plus years ago, I did feel that way- I didn’t care that they were dead and that I felt a sense of relief. And yes, the 17-year-old me considered their deaths to be a good dose of karma for the way they and the rest of the classmates had treated me and several others. And yes, a part of that bullied teenager, who was me, was even glad the two girls were gone.
However, that was how I felt back then and not how I feel today. Nevertheless, she sounded off to the other classmates, distorting it and making it sound like I still felt that way today, and exaggerated it saying that I celebrated the girls’ deaths today, which was false. Then she told them not to read the book.
The real reason she told them not to read it is because she was afraid that they’d figure out that it was all past tense and that today, I am saddened that they died so young. Feelings do change over time. Since then, I’ve lost a few close family members and the deaths of loved ones have a way of quickly changing your perspective.
It’s important that you know how to name lies like this because when you can put a name on them, you can better describe it and you can better communicate what the bullies are doing and how they do it without sounding like you’re rambling.
With knowledge comes empowerment!