When Teasing Goes Too Far
There are bullies everywhere, but they may use different tactics for how they choose to abuse others. While some inflict physical exploitation (which is NEVER acceptable under any circumstances), most prefer emotional mistreatments such as name-calling, teasing, or passive-aggressive behaviors. Although the old saying goes “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words would never break me”, the reality is that they do. In fact, verbal and emotional bullies can cause serious damage. Most cases of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem have been traced to verbal abuse, and many more people are falling victim to this form of bullying every day.
While sometimes you are dealing with obvious rudeness from people outside your close circle, you may also have friends who are cruel by making unwelcome jokes, bringing up embarrassing past situations, or making light of difficult problems you are having. While it’s maybe ‘fun and games’ to them, it might be hurtful to you, and it’s up to you to make them realize they have taken their ‘jokes’ too far.
What can you do when you’re faced with verbal bullies who just won’t stop?
Tell Them Straight Out
To deal with friends who tease you, confront them and express your displeasure about their comments. If you don’t say at the very least that you don’t like the way they are behaving or what they are saying, then your silence is taken as consent. Speak up even just a little. While stranger bullies might not budge, your friends will usually stop. Don’t playfully toss aside teasing remarks especially when they hurt you. Firmly inform them that if they persist in teasing, you will cut ties with them. Although it may seem drastic, it proves to them that you were hurt and are serious about getting them to stop. In the case of bullies in the work place ro classroom, it’s not enough to tell them you’re hurt. Inform them you can and will take the matter up with a superior. Again, if you say nothing at all, you are practically giving them permission to keep it up. I know it can be scary or seem like you are a tattletale, but you have to take some ownership of the situation. What’s worse—having the bully think you are ‘lame’ for ratting them out or continuing to be their playtoy at your expense?
Serve It Back To Them
Sometimes teasing is not all that bad. Some is done in fun and some can be rationalized away. Only YOU know this threshold. There’s a way you’ll react to teasing that will make you feel better about yourself. For instance, a person who’s teasing you about being fat wants you to feel ashamed of your body. It’s definitely intended to strike a nerve, but you can look for a quirky response about the good side of being ‘fat’ that would deflect the teasing remark. A humorous comment like “At least I’m starving to death” can help you roll with the tease. You could either think about humorous or savage comebacks against teases to throw bullies off your back. For either unintentional bullier or professional bulliers, a witty comeback can redirect the conversation or shut them up entirely.
Walk Away Silent and Emotionless
Somesimtes, trading words with a bully or someone who’s teasing you isn’t the best solution, depending on the situation or setting. If you can’t roll with the teasing remarks, you can always walk away without a word. Say nothing and just leave. Bullies hate being ignored, and when you do exactly that despite their vile comments, it makes them feel horrible or at the very least confused. Rather than protest or try to defend yourself, leaving without giving them any emotion can be a dagger in the heart to those who are teasing you.
Own Up To Your Part
Now, sometimes you can invite the teasting. It’s possible that you’re the cause of the teasing that comes your way. Either you act silly, thus drawing attention to yourself or you don’t behave yourself properly to warrant being treated with the utmost respect. Don’t forget, “The way you dress is the way you’ll be addressed.”, so the way in which you demonstrate self-respect is the way you’ll be respected. If you don’t like the way your friends or a crowd is responding to your behavior, change it. You also need to take some responsibility. To avoid teasing, tone down on silly behaviors unless they are in proportion to the behaviors around you. Walk with pride and don’t just associate yourself with everyone. When you won’t tolerate the slightest bit of disrespect, people will adjust accordingly.
Avoid The Teasers
You don’t have to fit in with every group. Be comfortable with your own company or strictly walk with friends who respect you enough not to strike a nerve. One of the ways to throw of teasing bullies is to avoid them totally. Don’t spare a glance in their direction, nor even walk anywhere they’ll set their eyes on you. As it is said, “Out of sight is out of mind,” and when the bullies don’t see you they won’t be able to pick on you. This isn’t weak at all. This is the road of the smarter individual, one who proactive in who and what is around him or her.
Tune Out The Noise
What happens when you have no choice but to encounter the bully every day? Perhaps you’re in the same class in school or the same department at your place of work. This is where cleverly ignoring them plays an active role. Calling a bully out on his or her behavior in the workplace might simply be counterproductive and not worth your time. While you may interact with every other reasonable person normally, intentionally ignore those who tease you. Give eye contact so they know you heard them and then change the subject or pretend you didn’t hear it at all and interact with someone else in the group. Ignore their comments totally and carry on your business as though they’re non-existent. When bullies are dismissed, they lose their motivation to keep going. You could go the extra mile to make use of headphones and loud music to tune out the snide comments.
Focus On Something Else
One of the ways to tune out the teasing is to switch your attention or the attention of your bully to something else. Rather than indulge in topics that serve as an avenue to tease you, change the topic to something more comfortable for you – it could be about business or mutual interest with someone else. When a bully realizes that you’re paying no attention to him/her, he/she would grow tired and frustrated enough to leave you alone – especially when you don’t ask for their opinion concerning the new topic.
Ultimately, you will have to stand up to the person who’s teasing you if nothing seems to work. Don’t be intimidated by size or status, rather focus on your self-interest and stop being afraid. It’s often said that bullies hate confrontation, use that to your advantage and approach them. There’s no way you’ll win a battle you’re afraid of facing, so toss aside your fears and sense of being inadequate and stand up to your bullies.
While bullies, in general, can make you feel horrible with their words, it is up to you to decide how you want to feel or react to their actions or remarks. They cannot control YOUR mind or attitude. No matter what is said, always maintain a high opinion about yourself. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Give no one such power over you – not your teasing friends, and definitely not bullies.