When you see a “not-so-popular” person trip, or come out of the bathroom with toilet paper on his heel, or how about a huge booger on her nose, do you say something to help the person out or do you point and laugh?
A person with empathy feels the pain that the impending embarrassment would cause and likely will say something polite like, “Are you okay? I totally tripped the other day myself. No big deal.” Or, “Oops, looks like you dragged out a bit more than you intended,” and point to his shoe with a smile. Or, “Um, hate to say this but you have something on your nose you might want to take care of.”
A person with empathy will act in a manner that helps the person, not hurts the person. A person without empathy will likely capitalize on the situation and make fun of the person in an attempt to elevate his own social status or to make herself feel more powerful.
We all have the capacity for empathy, we are born with it, but it needs to be cultivated. A person who Bullies lacks this trait. A person who Bullies may have been raised in a manner that did not activate the natural empathy wiring in the brain. Though many reasons exist for why someone may be hurting, connections throughout the “Bully’s” life were likely poor, nonexistent or harmful. He needs to increase his neural connections for empathy.
So how can you help? You are certainly not meant to rescue a person who Bullies completely, but the more we try to encourage the following characteristics in everyone, the better off we will all be:
Increase empathy: Constantly ask the person doing the Bullying, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” Try to squeeze out every drop of emotion possible. How would the person feel? You are looking for a feeling as part of the response, not a defensive reaction.
Increase emotional awareness: This is similar to creating empathy – since empathy is an emotion – but many more emotions exist. The more we can become aware of our emotions and then find ways to manage them constructively, the less likely we are to act them out destructively. (The Your Self Series™ of books is all about finding your emotional awareness and managing your self in the process.)
Increase frustration tolerance: How much can you take before you snap? Did you know that some people can’t even take a poke in the ribs. Those people have a very low level of frustration tolerance. How about you? Do you have a younger sibling who drives you crazy? What do you do about it? After all, the kid is younger and is looking to you for guidance and support. Take a deep breath, relax, and deal. Sound complicated? Click here for some anti-stress strategies.
How’s your anger management workin’ for ya? The ability to manage difficult emotions like anger and rage can lead to a make-it or break-it lifestyle. In other words, people can turn to destructive behaviors, break the law, use drugs, drink alcohol or get into fights, to name a few. Girls often act out their anger in more relational Bullying ways or passive aggressive tactics as well.
Here’s the deal: If you are angry, admit it and do something constructive to manage it. Before you decide what it is you are going to do, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and make sure you feel good about your decisions. If your only option seems to do something risky, seek help. One person we know, when faced with a choice, will ask herself, which response comes from fear and which comes from love? She chooses the loving response every time and feels great about it.
Post Question: What do you think is the best way to deal with AND help a bully?