How to Deal with Emotional Bullies

Emil Harker

(KUTV) Salt Lake City - At some point, bullying transitions from childhood fighting to emotional bullying in adulthood. Emil Harker, Marriage & Family Therapist, shared tips on Fresh Living on how to deal with these emotional bullies.

Emil Harker says, "Everyone experiences emotional bullying from someone in their life. The reason that emotional bullying works so wonderfully well is that we aren’t trained on how to deal with emotional bullying so emotional bullies get what they want way to often. Here are some strategies to deal with emotional bullies when ignoring them doesn’t work, or you done with ignoring their behavior."

Major Types of emotional bullying:

  • Passive Aggressive - someone says something to someone else that you can hear and it’s intention is for you to hear it.
  • Assumptive questions- When were you going to tell me that you had no intention of helping out?
  • Aggressiveness - You obviously don’t take your job seriously and this you can come and go as you please.
  • Gas lighting /Crazy making. “Why would you think that other people aren’t satisfied with you performance.” After that person finished making a comment that they overheard someone complaining.
  • Insults or name calling - “You are such an idiot.”
  • Silent Treatment - ignoring or stonewalling or not including. Pretending to not see or hear someone else.

How to Respond:

  1. First emotional bullies are not healthy. Emotional bullies are dealing with emotional and psychological issues and they don’t have the insight and humility to seek for help. This doesn’t make it o.k. or give permission at all, but when you can see that the scary wizard is really a small person desperately trying to convince you that they are strong, it’s easier to not take it personal. Emotionally bullying is about the emotional bully not the victim of the bullying.
  2. Reflect and repeat: Hold the person accountable to what they are saying but do not emotionally react, fall apart, or cry because that is what they want you to do. Instead reflect back to them what they are saying and doing (objectively) and ask them what they mean? or What their message is? For example: co worker in a meeting resorts to name calling and calls you an idiot. “Did you just call me an idiot?” Yes. “So you are using name calling and calling me an idiot in front of everyone here. And that’s O.K. with you?” Well you are one. I’m just calling it like I see it. “And that is something that you think is O.K. to do in this situation?” I’m just saying “
  3. Call attention to their intentions: Call attention to their intentions behind their behavior. “So, what are your intentions, are you hoping to be helpful or are you trying to hurt my feelings? Why the name calling?” I just think you are being an idiot that’s all. “So which is it? Are you trying to hurt my feeling on purpose or what? It’s either your trying to hurt my feelings or your trying to help me, right?”

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