Overreacting. Any overreactions to the taunts, insults, and attacks of bullies only bring more problems targets would otherwise avoid if they stayed calm. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson through time-consuming trial and error, and it could’ve gotten me either maimed or killed. But you don’t have to.
Overreacting can have a boomerang effect because when you get overly excited, the chances are that the bullies will too- especially bullies who are overly aggressive. Overdoing the response could cause the altercation to escalate into something you may not be able to walk away from. Also, the bullies could use your overreaction against you.
The target’s overreaction is how bullies feign victimhood and make the victim look like the aggressor. It’s how bullies bait their victims. So why not use a different strategy?
Chess board and text “Strategic plan” Business planning concept
The smart thing to do is to fake a surrender or submission. Make it look as if you’re giving in to your bullies’ demands. I realize this may feel a bit cowardly to you, but you aren’t caving in, you’re only making your bullies think you are. So, remain calm and make them believe they have the upper hand. Doing so will stabilize the bully’s temper.
But wait! There’s another benefit! Your bullies more than likely expect or even want you to react with a high degree of aggression. But you don’t, and it will throw them off guard. It will surprise, even shock your bullies, because you remained calm and agreed with them. The surprise is a powerful weapon if you know how to use it.
Use your fake surrender as part of a bigger plan once you fool them into thinking you care. On the inside, you continue to stand your ground, but on the outside, you give in to their desires. Doing so can give you time to quietly plan a countermeasure that will bring the bullies down. Smarts will always trump aggression every time!
However, understand that this takes a truckload of self-discipline and self-control. And, as mentioned earlier, you may feel like a big old wimp when you use this technique. Just remember this: You’re not giving the bullies what they want. You only look like you are. You’re only playing dead to save your life!
Here’s a third benefit. By faking your submission, you also allow yourself time to study your bullies and carefully plot any future moves. And when the bullies are satisfied and lay off you, you’ll finally have room to make your countermove.
So, go ahead—fake your submission. Get close to your bullies and learn their ways. Give them no reason to react, nothing to prepare for, and no cause for resistance. Then when the time is right, BAM!
They won’t know what hit them.
Any time you make it look as if you submit to your bullies, you’re only mocking them. It’s silent disdain – like expelling a silent fart in their direction, only they don’t know they’ve been farted on.
You turn their own power against them and make them look like idiots. But they can’t retaliate because you did what they told you to do. Right?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with responding in kind when someone tries to mistreat you. It shows that you command the dignity and respect that’s due to the next person and that you won’t tolerate crap from bullies. It also shows that you have the guts to stand your ground when some creep violates your boundaries.
As a society, we’ve been conditioned by politicians, the media, corporations, educators, and even certain members of our families that responding in kind only makes us as bad as the bullies. And we’re still being conditioned to believe it. We’re being told to “ignore” people’s atrocious behavior, and in some cases, even submit to it.
However, I want you to understand that the only thing bullies understand is strength and power and anyone they deem as weak is fair game.
Therefore, if you don’t respond in kind to bad behavior, bullies will get the message that there are no consequences for their abuse and that they can walk on you anytime they feel like it. There’ll be no stopping them from escalating the bullying and no limit to what they’ll try next.
Full Length of Two Adult Woman Standing Side by Side with Hands on Hips in Separate Lanes of Outdoor Running Track – Two Friends Sizing Up Competition
You must set boundaries, and how you set boundaries is by imposing consequences on anyone who violates those boundaries. But how do you impose consequences? By responding in kind to bullies when they cross the line.
Notice I say “respond” and not react. By responding the right way, you show that you’re not afraid to stand your ground and that you command the same dignity and respect given to the next person.
There’s no law that says that you must accept abuse from anyone. Yet, we’re very subtly being told that we should take it, and with a smile, and a yes sir/ma’am, then ask for seconds. In today’s world, society tries to dictate that we should agree to abuse.
Um- no! That’s now how life or human nature works! Every action is followed by a response!
Bullies must realize that there are consequences if they harm another person. And we must realize that it is the threat of consequences that keeps the bad guys from coming for us and keeps us safe. Without accountability, there would be chaos and anarchy! Bullies would have free reign over us all.
So, never be afraid to respond in kind and never feel guilty for it. It’s normal, expected, and it’s how you defend yourself and treat yourself well.
Being unpredictable can be your best weapon against bullies. Anytime you are predictable in a climate of bullying, you’re a sitting duck. Bullies will soon know what gets you upset, what will get you to fly off the handle and do something irrational and how to sabotage you socially and academically. You must be versatile if you expect to throw the bullies off-kilter.
Predictability is human nature. People are creatures of habit and have a need to see familiarity in the actions of others. If you’re a target of bullying, any predictability on your part will give your bullies the idea that they have control of you.
Understand that the reason bullies have so much power over you is that you’re too darn predictable. You make it too easy for them to predict what you’ll do. Because they’ve studied and picked up on your habits, they have the foreknowledge of what your reaction will be. And they’ll weaponize it every chance they get!
But when you flip the script and begin deliberately exhibiting behavior that has no consistency and no objectives, you automatically throw your bullies for a loop! Take your unpredictable behavior up several notches and bullies will be intimidated.
Now. Before I go on, let me mention that here’s one good thing about your predictability- you’ve gotten your bullies so used to your patterns that you’ve lulled them off to sleep, which will make any versatility on your part all the more powerful once you start deliberately changing your reactions to their attacks.
So, here goes:
If you’re a target of bullying, you want to make it look you have no clear strategy. You must scramble your behavior patterns and your reactions to confuse the bullies if you want them to back off. And when you do, not only will it confuse them, it’ll scare the stupid out of them!
I’ll use a scenario with one of my old classmates as an example:
Just two years ago, Carol, one of my old classmates, attacked me online after she found out that I was collaborating with a producer out of New York on a screenplay adaptation of my first published book.
Let me start by saying that we hadn’t seen each other since high school. Back then, I was quiet, shy and timid girl, but with a hair-trigger temper when I was pushed too far. That’s how Carol had remembered me.
And had she verbally attacked me back then, I either would’ve walked away from her without saying anything back to her, or, on a bad day, I would’ve fought fire with fire- screaming back at her, cursing her out and calling her every name but a child of God.
This time, I did neither. As you’ll see in the screenshots below, I reacted in a way she never expected me to.
Carol expected me to fly off the handle, have a moment of sheer stupidity, and counter-attack with the same vitriol and craziness she dished out to me first. Then she could have used my counter-attack against me and made me look like the instigator. That’s exactly what she had plans to do, and I knew it.
Instead of reacting, I responded.
I remained calm and told her how it was without name-calling, without cursing, and without using all caps. And boy! Did it throw her into a hissy fit! Carol literally FREAKED! ‘Had a complete meltdown online as she sent me hateful message after hateful message. I happily took screenshots and outed her all over social media before finally blocking her.
By reacting in a way I knew she never expected, I threw her off balance and not only instilled fear, but induced panic and rage in her. I shook her up so much so that she couldn’t think clearly nor rationally. She stumbled, making blunder after blunder.
In being unpredictable, I forced her to give me the goods I needed to expose her with. She fell face-first into the trap I calmly laid for her, and I have to admit. Outsmarting her felt soooo good! Carol played right into my hands and didn’t realize her mistake until after she’d calmed down. But by then, it was too late. Carol had made herself look like a complete lunatic and had I acted as she had, I would’ve looked just as nutty as she did.
‘You see? When you deliberately respond in ways your bullies don’t expect, you throw them off-kilter and force them to react out of fear, confusion, even anger. And when a person reacts out of pure emotion, they make a truckload of mistakes, blunders, and gaffes, then end up making a colossal fool of themselves.
Even better, after I exposed Carol online, many other old classmates, out of loyalty to her, came to her defense and attacked me the same way she had. Although they knew that she was in the wrong and that she’d attacked me without provocation, their loyalty to their old high school buddy was much stronger than their sense of right and wrong.
Carol’s, brother, sister and son also joined in the vitriol. They even went to the pages of my husband and my son and attacked them too. Carol’s allies didn’t private message them but went to their public pages where all could see. In doing this, they also exposed themselves for the idiots they were while we sat back and laughed.
That’s what reacting out of emotion does. It causes us to make dumb mistakes.
Needless to say, after I exposed them (or they exposed themselves) those people backed off quickly and I never heard from them again. Neither did my family. They now stay far away because they were surprised to find that I’m nowhere near as naïve as I was in high school. I stayed calm and was smart enough to deflect their attacks and use them against them.
Again. Understand that by doing something unexpected, you gain a huge advantage over your bullies. And when bullies can’t figure out what you’re going to do, it scares them to death and they’ll almost always react out of fear!
Nothing is more frightening than when you make a move nobody would ever expect. It’s the reason natural disasters are so scary because no one knows when and where they’ll hit next. It’s why deer hunters can track down their prey and kill them. They know the habits and patterns of behavior of the deer they hunt.
Realize that habits and patterns are the worst things that go against a target of bullying because bullies pick up on your routines and use them against you.
In closing, you must learn to unsettle your bullies by allowing them to see you do things they’d never expect. If a bully launches an attack, you should counter-attack suddenly, without warning, in a way they’d wouldn’t expect you to, and when they least expect it.
You must purposefully mislead your bullies to trick them into an emotional reaction!
If you’re going to be predictable, don’t stay that way. Do it for long enough that your bullies get used to your patterns and are lulled into a false sense of security, then strike suddenly with something unexpected! And that’s how you get them to leave you alone!