[title subtitle="Wellness Wednesdays with Blare June"]Building Meaningful Relationships[/title]
In an ideal world, there would be no bullying. The times we cried at summer camp or the moments we felt out of sorts in high would simply not exist. Instead, we are each cherished for who we are and celebrated for what we bring to life’s many tables.
Unfortunately, however, our world is by no means ideal world. Bullying, more often than not, follows us well into adulthood. With high profile cases of people committing suicide—a result of victimization—and a real-life bully running for President of the United States, it’s not a surprise how both harassment and intimidation are legitimate if not pressing concerns at schools, workplaces, and places of leisure.
Unlike men who usually rely on physical violence to terrorize and torment their victims of choice, women tend to resort to sophisticated and less overt means. Not only do they bully through exclusion, but they also do so through gossiping and spreading rumors. While the general rule of thumb is to “ignore” when dealing with irrational antics of mean girls, the kindness approach can still be frustrating and exhausting.
Here are 3 helpful ways to deal with the bullies you can’t seem to escape.
Find Common Ground
Even though your morals and values may differ vastly from your bully’s, there is often a common interest or opinion you can agree on. Whether it a work out class or a local restaurant you both want to try out, bonding over something you’re equally interested in can have a relationship-altering impact.
Try establishing common ground my asking open-ended questions. Hint: Most individuals, especially those with narcissistic qualities, enjoy talking about themselves. Ask your bully about her recent 5k race or her work promotion. By doing so, you might even strengthen a positive bond!
Lead by Example
It is human to learn our biggest life lessons by observing the behavior of others. Inviting your bully to your upcoming dinner party or to sit with you and your colleagues at lunch might feel like the most foolish thing to do, but it may also make way for a more collegial relationship.
By demonstrating your maturity and strength, you might even be able to inspire your foe to do the same.
Sometimes the more passive approaches of finding common ground of leading by example do not garner significant results. Sometimes, the best way to confront the uncomfortable situation is to address the bully face on. Ask him or her to coffee to discuss how you’ve been feeling as a result of his or her actions. Then, find a way to move forward together.
When handling the conversation, avoid statements that imply blame. Phrase the conversation about how you feel. Give concrete examples and be open to hearing your bully’s perspective. Regardless if you are the “bully” or the “victim,” remember that everyone is constantly bombarded with their own life challenges. While there is not an excuse for the poor treatment of others, there may be more to the situation than you know.
Approaching conversations with an open mind and forgiving heart will set you up for a lifetime of less gossip and more meaningful relationships.