Three Foundational Tactics used by Bullies

Previously I have raised the importance of being able to recognise inappropriate communication styles.  Being able to recognise and identify inappropriate communication is the first step to effectively reducing it in our society.   Bullying is one form of inappropriate communication that is recognised as such.   Yet all too often it is not recognised in practice.  Recognising bullying is critical if we want to create a more respectful society.  Here we’ll look at three foundational tactics used by bullies in order to clearly identify a bullying situation.

Bullies use a range of strategies and they adapt the strategies used to fit the situation. Bullies may be told, by who they perceive to be a higher power, they are not permitted to use a particular strategy.  The most skilled bullies will stop using the specified strategy, unless they believe they can still get away with it.  However as bullying is related to an attitude to life and achieving a desired out come, bullies will simply adapt and use another strategy.  Yet there is some core or basic Tactics bullies will use and these are relatively easy to recognise.   We’ll look at three of them: Denial, Blaming and Confusion.

Bullies will ‘deny’ they did something inappropriate.  They will do so with ease and systematically.  They will set up documents to support the denial as ‘evidence’ they did not do what they have done.  They are aware what they are doing is considered inappropriate and will select where and how they implement the inappropriate action to enhance their deniability.   Perhaps they only bully when no one else is present, or only those they are able to bully or when other bullies are present.  Whichever works for them, at the time, is what they will do.  At the same time any thing that goes well bullies will claim responsibility for, even if they didn’t have anything to do with it.

Blaming is the follow through of denial.  Whenever anything goes wrong it is never the bully’s fault or responsibility.  Bullies are quick to point the finger at someone or something else.  They are quick to find excuses for any of their actions easily passing responsibility, ideally you if you are their target.  If you are a target you are likely to be blamed for all of their inappropriate actions.  ‘You made me do it’.  This is a foundational indication of their lack of willingness to take responsibility for their actions.

If bullies can get you to accept responsibility, not only have they successfully shifted responsibility from them self, they have also enhanced their control over you.   For if you accept responsibility you are also likely to move into guilt and corrective actions.  Or worse sink into a trap of attempting to please them.  They are controlling what you do by instigating guilt and your desire to please.

If one is gullible, that is willing to accept the denial and blaming, ‘confusion’ will easily set in.  One is no longer sure what is true and not.  No longer sure what did or did not happen.   Doubt has set in.  This in itself is very disorientating, however it also leaves one open to further inappropriate treatment.  Bullies embrace the ability to confuse others as it supports their intention to get their own way.  Cooperative individuals are easily gullible, as they tend to want to believe in others.

If you know someone who routinely denies their actions, continuously blames someone or something else for what goes wrong and or you regularly feel confused related to them and interactions with them, it is time to take a break.  Create some distance between this person and yourself.  Give yourself time to reorientate yourself and then plan a means to clarify what is happening.

I repeat if you regularly experience these indicators, denial, blaming and confusion, from anyone, consider them a likely bully.  Particularly if you are becoming isolated from others, who may help you keep a realistic perspective.

Yes it is critical to distinguish challenging situations from interactions with bullies.  It is important to double check it is not yourself that is in denial or blame.  However do not blindly accept it is you.

Always ensure you are interacting with others and ask them for assistance clarifying the situation.  Listen only to those that will listen to you and ask questions of you, your response, as well as the potential bully’s actions.  That is they are attempting to support you get a balanced perspective.

Importantly do not be mistaken, if you are experiencing the actions of a bully they know what they are doing and you need to take self-protective action asap.    If you are being accused of being a bully consider checking out ‘Responding to Accusations of being a Bully’.   If we want to have more respectful communication and interactions we need to act to reduce the inappropriate interactions while building more respectful skills.   Recognising inappropriate communication is the first step.   Appropriate action is the follow through.


Living Your Values

These days there is a lot of talk about living your values.   How to live them is less discussed. Today I will share with you four keys to being able to live your values effectively.   Living your values is the most powerful way to communicate them to others.

To live your values effectively you first need to identify your personal values.

That is, what is important to you, not what others tell you is important. I repeat, what is important to YOU. What is it that matters to you the absolute most? What is it that makes life worth living for you? Select one, two or three things that you would be willing to give your all for.   What brings joy into your day?

For some people a value could be a principle such as honesty.   For others it could be groups or interactions for example their family. Yet others may find a practice or object could be what does it for them, perhaps they live for vintage cars or to play tennis.   Naturally a combination of values is common.

Next you need to be able to describe your values in a behavioural or objective manner. That is so that they can be recognised, especially, but not only, by you. What does the value look like when in action? This allows you to identify the actions that you need to take to be living in alignment with your values. For example if you value being a tennis player what level do you want, what skills do you need to learn?

One-way to identify your values is to look at what you already do, or intend to do, with your whole being.  Another is to look at others that you admire and clearly state what it is that they do that you admire.

Once you have identified at least one value and what it looks like you have the foundation for beginning to implement it in your life, to live it effectively. This could easily require you to change habits you currently practice and overcome obstacles in the way.

Living your personal values is not only practicing the required actions.

It is also important to be able to protect and nourish your ability to practice your values. For this it is necessary to consider the things that make it difficult to practice.  For example if honesty is something you value, yet you find you instinctively become protective and less open around some people.   This might mean that you need to consider who you spend your time with.

Practicing your values is more than saying I value this.

You also need to practice, protect and nourish them.

On the journey to living your values effectively you may find your values change or are refined.   Perhaps your true values simply become clearer for you as you live them day-to-day.

Living your values effectively allows you to communicate your values in your actions, be recognised for what is important to you, draws in others who also value what you do and as a consequence you get to live a fulfilled life. Enjoy!

Building Closeness

Closeness is the foundation of healthy relationships.  It is the ability to connect with another, to gain access to their inner world, and it is a two way process.  As a consequence, while building and maintaining closeness is a skill we can learn, closeness can only occur between individuals that have the skills and wish to connect with each other.  Closeness is worth developing, for the experience of being socially connected, as well as the, better health, wellbeing, longer life and greater life satisfaction it provides.  Closeness is not just the glue for society it is the foundation for a truly fulfilling life.

To develop the skills for closeness it is essential to be aware it is a process, something to do and continue to do because life is about change.  The process of closeness involves two key steps 1) knowing and 2) caring.  These take time and being present.  Too often individuals’ feel they do not have the time and or are too preoccupied to be present with others.  Remember if you stop practicing closeness it will fade. The lack of closeness in one’s life ensures a sense of loneliness, separation and lack of belonging.  You can only gain from closeness by taking the time, learning to be present and practicing the process of building closeness with those around you continuously.

To get to know someone it is necessary to take the time to establishing a safe space, listen to what they are saying and practicing validation.  Key to the process is asking questions out of curiosity, a genuine interest in the other.  Alternatively to allow someone to get to know you it is necessary to be able, and willing, to share your own inner world.   And to do so in a way that is maintaining a sense of safety.  Getting to know someone and sharing with another are challenging processes.  There are important communication skills required: listening, questioning, validation, creating and maintaing a safe space.  The key mindsets of curiosity, openness and mutual respect are also valuable.

A sense of safety and trust builds with time, even when caring is expressed.  It is important that each individual knows they are cared for.  Caring for another involves investing in ‘their best interests’.  That is to empower them to meet their needs, desires, their right to have a life of personal fulfilment and satisfaction.  Being caring also has numerous skills the ability to be empathic, demonstrate caring, being able to handle disagreements and maintain a caring bond over time.  Plus the mindset of doing or being in service to the other(s), being kind, generous and having a sense of contentedness.

Building closeness is an important and complex process.  It is rather unfortunate that it is not commonly intentionally taught as it is the foundation of our life, particularly when we want a satisfying, connected life.