Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dealing With a Bully?

Or "Dealing with a Critic, Control Freak or Verbal Bully?"

When I received this article in my inbox I knew whatever Sam Horn (author of Tongue Fu!), wrote would be something invaluable. And when I read the article, “Dealing with a Critic, Control Freak or Verbal Bully?” I knew I had to immediately send it to some of my clients who were living just that. Hey…who isn’t? Show me a person who isn’t dealing with someone in one of these categories and I’ll show you a person who’s living in denial.

Sam’s book “Take the Bully by the Horns” shows us that "Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages and professions". And they do! Here’s an excerpt from the article. For the full article, click on Dealing With a Critic and click on the links to order either of her books, Tongue Fu? Or “Take the Bully by the Horns”.

If you do in fact ‘live’ with someone like this, work or home and have a way to deal with them that’s worked for you, please let us know how you do it as I know your help will be very much appreciated.

Donna Karlin

* Excerpt from Dealing With a Critic”…

"Actions lie louder than words." Carol Wells.

The Characteristics of a Control Freak Checklist

1. Dissonance. Psychologists agree that one of the primary indicators of a troubled person is incongruent behavior. As Dave Barry pointed out, someone who is nice to you and nasty to "the help" is not who he or she seems. Someone who makes racist remarks and then tries to laugh them off is revealing his or her true character (or lack of). Someone who says s/he loves children but seems remote or rigid when around them is displaying dissonance -- defined as "inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions." What this means is that you cannot take this person at his or her word. Everything they say will be suspect because you won't know when they're telling the truth and when they're not.

2. Possessiveness. Someone who comes on strong and wants (or has!) to be with you constantly is showing a dangerous need to have you all to him or herself. Possessiveness is defined as "a desire to own or dominate." Bullies often don't have many (or any) friends of their own which means they grow to resent your other relationships. Does this person pout or try to make you feel guilty for abandoning him or her when you spend time with others? Does this person want to know all about your previous partners/bosses, and somehow resent the fact that you've been with or worked for someone other than him or her? Bullies are so insecure they see everyone you care for as competition and as a threat to their dominance. This reluctance to share you with others will only get worse and become more perverse.

3. Secrecy. People who don't want to discuss their background and don't want you to meet their family or colleagues may have something to hide. People who refuse to reveal anything about their past are often concealing emotional baggage. What you don't know can hurt you. Someone who doles out self-revelations in small quantities may seem mysterious and alluring in the beginning. In the long run, being with a private person who withholds most of himself or herself gets lonesome.

4. Bitterness. Does this person have a lot of animosity for his or her parents, former spouse, or previous managers? Please understand you will be reliving and working out the unresolved traumas of this individual's childhood and prior work relationships. You've heard the Zen saying, "Wherever you go, there you are?" This person hasn't yet figured out that his or her source of bitterness is internal, not external. If this individual is lugging around deep-seated resentments, it is only a matter of time before s/he starts accusing you of the same "crimes" former significant others supposedly perpetrated upon him or her.

5. Twists words. Does this person take what you say and turn it into something you didn't mean? Do you sometimes feel on the defensive and don't even know why? Does this person obfuscate - make confusing statements and then accuse you of misunderstanding? Bullies often make commitments and then claim they never made them in the first place. This is a crazy-making ploy designed to turn you inside-out so you don't know what's up.

6. Holds you responsible for their unhappiness. Does this person blame you for his or her bad moods? If they're sad, it's because you didn't ask about their day? If they're depressed, it's because you don't take them anywhere anymore? If they're angry, it's because you said something that provoked them? There will be no pleasing this kind of person. They essentially haven't grown up, and never will as long as they continue holding everyone else but themselves accountable for how they feel.

7. Perfectionist. Does this person nit-pick? Does he or she have such high standards no one ever measures up? Does this individual have to do things himself because anyone else would just "mess it up"? If you're still in the honeymoon or courting phase, you may be temporarily exempt from this person's unceasing criticism. In time though, their insistence on things being done a certain way (their way) will transfer to you and then you'll never be able to do anything right. Jimmy Hoffa once said, "I may have my faults, but being wrong isn't one of them." Tyrants won't admit to any faults, least of all being wrong.

8. Pinpoints your weakness and uses them against you. Tyrants have a talent for ferreting out your emotional Achilles Heel and hobbling you with it. If you don't want to be considered selfish, they'll call you selfish. If you don't want to be perceived as controlling, they'll accuse you of being controlling. If you're unsure of your parenting skills, they'll attack your parenting skills. This is a classical Machiavellian method of exploiting your weakness so you're impotent (lacking power or strength) and they're omnipotent (having unlimited influence or authority.) Their goal is to make you doubt yourself so you're vulnerable to their attempts to own you.

9. Plays martyr. Does he or she try to lay on the guilt trip by saying things like, "Go ahead and go skiing with your friends. I don't mind. I mean, who wants to spend time with an old fogie like me anyway? I'm sure I'll find something to do." Does this person play the long-suffering individual who's unappreciated? Is it a common theme that s/he is the only one holding the office together and everyone else is frivolous, hedonistic, incompetent, or selfish?

10. Hates to have authority questioned. Does this person take umbrage if you dare dispute his or her facts or opinions? Does s/he come across as a "know-it-all" who has to have all the answers? Bullies can't stand to be challenged because they're afraid their "power-house of cards" could come falling down. Their "my way or the highway" communication style is based on their need to be in control and beyond reproach.

If you disagree with this person, does he or she escalate their intensity in an effort to force you to concede? If so, it means that every conversation is going to turn into a verbal battleground. It means this person will start disparaging your intelligence, expertise, and experience so you no longer know what you know and won't have the intellectual confidence to challenge them.

11: Lies, Lies, Lies: Mark Twain once commented that "Truth is more of a stranger than fiction." Does that description fit the person you're dealing with? Does he or she self-aggrandize and exaggerate his or her achievements? In order to win respect, bullies often claim to have been to places they've never been, boast of knowing people they've never met, and excel at things they've never tried.

In the mid 1970's, I had the privilege of working with Grand-Slam tennis champion Rod Laver at his Hilton Head Island resort. A couple times a year we sponsored national tennis camps. Every once in awhile, someone would blow in and we would sense that we were able to deal with a type of individual the Aussies playfully refer to as "all flap and no throttle." These "blowhards" always talked a bigger game than they delivered.

Does the person you're dealing with display "blowhard" tendencies? Does he or she wax eloquently (or not so eloquently) about past accomplishments? Did this individual somehow manage in the first few minutes of meeting you to let you know how much money he made, what degrees she had, or what awards he's won? Was she so intent on impressing you with her curriculum vitae that she failed to ask about yours? Watch out. Red alert. Bully on the loose.

*Reprinted with permission


Anonymous said...

thanks , I dont think I'm alone, I always being bullied

Anonymous said...

I am not 100% sure but I am coming to see my boyfriend, whom I plan to marry to after spending almost 4 years together, might be a bully. He can never calmly resolve a conflict. He always have to verbally insult and attack me when we are in discussion and disagree. Then after he hurt my feelings, he withdraws from the situations and pretend nothing happen and refuse to hear me out and think I deserved being yelled at. I often have to heal myself or suck it up. I feel very disrespected and unloved whenever that happen.

Donna Karlin said...

He's making a choice as to how he treats you. You're making a choice as to whether or not you accept his treatment of you. Is that what you want for the rest of your life? Or would you like someone who supports you and respects you? This is the time to make that choice.