How Do You Stand Up To A Bully?

Whether it is on a playground, in a board room, or in international politics, you are likely to find yourself, at some point, faced with a bully. How should you handle it?

There is one school of thought that the only language a bully understands is violence. The best way to deal with one on the schoolyard, as this theory goes, is to bloody their nose.

Of course, this is not universally applicable. If you punch a bullying co-worker in the nose, you are likely to be fired.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘Where does authority come from?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’

Another possible way of dealing with a bully is to ignore them. Don’t let them goad you into an action you may regret. However, if an aggressive action goes unanswered, it might embolden more abusive behavior.

So what is the best way to handle this situation? How should you stand up to a bully?

Related questions: Why do we put up with unhappiness? How can we build confidence? Hold firm or compromise? How much power does an individual have?


2 thoughts on “How Do You Stand Up To A Bully?”

  1. Quite honestly, I don’t know how to answer this question. I was a target of schoolyard bullies. I can say that reasoning with them was not the way to resolve their tormenting me.

    One thing I’m pretty sure of — and I’ve read this elsewhere — is that bullying is often the result of the aggressor not feeling power in some other aspect of their life. They bully to feel power. And they often feel rewarded in the short term for this behavior. But the initial powerlessness remains. And so, the bullying continues.

    I curious to read solutions offered by others.

  2. This question is very timely, because I believe Vladimir Putin is acting like a bully with his invasion of Ukraine. So how does one stand up to a bully?

    Let’s take for example the schoolyard bully. It seems to me the best way to respond is to call for an authority figure such as the playground supervisor or school principal to discipline him/her.

    In Putin’s case, there seems to be no one who has authority over him. His government doesn’t have the checks and balances that we enjoy in this country.

    It seems to me that authority should rest with the United Nations. Isn’t that why it was formed?
    In the past the U.N. has sent peacekeeping forces to trouble spots in the world. Why not now?

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