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Friday, June 3, 2011

The Adult Bully - Do you know one?

I remember being told when I was younger that things would be different when I was older.  People would be nicer to each other, kinder, more considerate and the little things that we would argue about would seem just that, small.  But, I am older and I've been around long enough to find out that this isn't exactly the case.  Some people do change and realize the mistakes they've made in hurting those in the past, and learn to use self-reflection to help shape, change and guide their behavior behavior.   Others don't.

While we spend so much time talking about bullying in schools, there is bullying going on in offices, in PTA meetings, on playgrounds, in playgroups, in home owner's associations and in plenty of other places and the bullying is amongst adults.  I've heard the stories, and I've witnessed it myself.

So, why do adults bully?  The prevailing idea out there is that the goal of the adult bully is to make themselves the dominant adult in order to have power over another person or group of people.  Adult bullies use physical threats or violence much less often than child or teenage bullies.  Adult bullies use verbal threats or aggression to manipulate or intimidate others.   Often times, adult bullies are not going to change.  Their pattern of behavior has been well established over time.  So it's best to avoid and or ignore the bully if possible.  If not, document and report the incidents to the proper people depending on the environment and circumstance.  

It's always helpful to identify the bully you are dealing with which can often times help you have a better sense of what you are dealing with and therefore a better sense of how to deal with it.  Below is a list of the types of adult bullies as outlined on

  1. Narcissistic Adult Bully: This type of adult bully is self-centered and does not share empathy with others. Additionally, there is little anxiety about consequences. He or she seems to feel good about him or herself, but in reality has a brittle narcissism that requires putting others down.
  2. Impulsive Adult Bully: Adult bullies in this category are more spontaneous and plan their bullying out less. Even if consequences are likely, this adult bully has a hard time restraining his or her behavior. In some cases, this type of bullying may be unintentional, resulting in periods of stress, or when the bully is actually upset or concerned about something unconnected with the victim.
  3. Physical Bully: While adult bullying rarely turns to physical confrontation, there are, nonetheless, bullies that use physicality. In some cases, the adult bully may not actually physically harm the victim, but may use the threat of harm, or physical domination through looming. Additionally, a physical bully may damage or steal a victim’s property, rather than physically confronting the victim.
  4. Verbal Adult Bully: Words can be quite damaging. Adult bullies who use this type of tactic may start rumors about the victim, or use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate another person. This subtle type of bullying also has the advantage - to the bully - of being difficult to document. However, the emotional and psychological impacts of verbal bullying can be felt quite keenly and can result in reduced job performance and even depression.
  5. Secondary Adult Bully: This is someone who does not initiate the bullying, but joins in so that he or she does not actually become a victim down the road. Secondary bullies may feel bad about what they are doing, but are more concerned about protecting themselves.

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