Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Dealing with Bullies

I'd like to take the day off of pretending to be funny and instead focus on something that's serious: bullying.

Getting bullied sucks. You get nervous, you start to avoid people and places, your social status can be affected... it can affect your school life, your social life, your home life, etc. Some kids have even killed themselves from being bullied. I've read one too many of those kinds of articles, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents on how to deal with bullies - because in general I don't think there's a lot of good advice going around on how to stop from being bullied.

First, let's talk about cyberbullying since that seems to be pretty common. Cyberbullying is when someone bullies you over email, text message, instant message, etc.

How to deal with cyberbullies:

Good: Just delete the emails, block the user on IM, etc.

Better: Set up a rule to send any emails from that person into your trash bin.

Best: Set up a rule to send those emails into a folder on your email to store as evidence for when you complain to the school or police. Set your Instant Messaging app to store conversations locally so that you can retrieve them. The bully is essentially giving you a paper trail that you can then use against him or her. Turn on full headers on your email to capture the IP address and all that other good stuff, so that the aggressor can never claim that you've spoofed their communications. And remember, if you or your parents send any mail to another parent or to the school referencing of these files, send it as a certified letter so that you've got proof that the recipient received the notice.

Basically, anyone who bullies you online is an idiot because they're just incriminating themselves.

On to regular bullies.

How to deal with school bullies:

Good: Telling your parents, teacher, guidance counselor, etc. Adults have gone through this before and generally know how to deal with it. They might not do anything that very moment, and might just wait and see how it all plays out, ie, letting you stick up for yourself (which is a good thing, by the way). But they'll keep an eye out for you.

Better: Ignore the bully. They just want attention. Don't show fear, don't run away (but walk away from any confrontation). Act casual. Bullies like to get a rise out of people, and if you don't let things bother you then usually they'll get bored.

Best: Stand up for yourself. Bullies generally pick on people because they are insecure, and it makes them feel better when they're making someone else feel like crap. So don't let yourself be bullied. Practice a few insults to hurl back at a dimwitted bully who instigates things, and don't be afraid to throw a punch or kick a guy in the nuts if you get pushed around. Just make sure that you're faster than whoever you're hitting.

Honorable mention: Humans are social creatures, so make as many friends with as many people as you can. That way, when a bully is picking on you, he or she now has to deal with you plus everyone else. And that means sticking up for your friends when they're bullied as well. Bullies will usually single out an individual, so you're better off with a group.

Also, let me say this: it's OK to be different. Most kids don't realize this until they're in college. Whatever is different about you sets you apart and makes you stand out. That's what people will find interesting about you. That's why we have different types of music, different TV shows, etc. We all don't like the same thing, and that's a good thing. The world would be a pretty terrible place if we were all exactly the same (unless we were all hot Brazilian bikini models - I'm sure that would be a pretty cool world).

How to deal with bullies on social media sites:

The eHow site has some good info on how to deal with bullies on Facebook, and shows you how to block another user, report offensive posts, etc. Here's another site with info on Facebook's anti-bullying tools.

Last but not least:

How to deal with bullies at work:

Congrats! You've made it out of school and into the real world! No more bullies, right?

Sadly, some bullies eventually make it into the workforce. But if they're dumb enough to harass you over email, and if it's repetitive and is disturbing your work, save the emails and forward them to your manager, that person's manager, and to HR. Usually the issues will get handled appropriately.

Plus, if you eventually attempt to leave the company due to being bullied and nobody doing anything about it, the company might either:

1. Fail because they've lost you as an asset, which is only good as long as you've sold all your stocks from your Employee Stock Purchase Plan and rolled your 401K over; or

2. Offer you more money to stay. You could also give the ultimatum that the bully is let go, sent to some kind of training, etc, in order to stay. More money, less hassles... it all depends on how you deal with it.

Not sure if anyone finds this helpful. Feel free to leave comments with more useful tips, advice, success stories, etc. Oh, and if you think you can leave a comment and bully me, think again - I'll be capturing your IP address and will track you down, sucka!

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