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Portrait of a bully

Identifying and confronting the one who makes things difficult for everyone.

Bullying "is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict. Bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three criteria: hostile intent, imbalance of power, and repetition over a period of time. Bullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally."(X)

It is painfully present nowadays and goes beyond school hallways and children. You just have to look at what is going on in the Russia-Ukraine invasion. Yes, you guessed it, Putin is a bully. Continue reading and see if you can spot the parallels and similarities

But how does the "bully" come about? Would knowing the origins and circumstances of this personality formation help us stop the siege? Lots of theories surround the personality formation of the bully. There are characteristics common to all of those akin to bullying someone and below it is a good summary: Psychological profile of the bully (bullying): 9 traits in common (

1. Need to dominate and control others

They like to dominate others and feel superior, because they generally have low self-esteem. They look for "weaker victims. They engage in dichotomous thinking or "all or nothing thinking"

2. Explosive and impulsive temperament

They are not generally emotionally intelligent. They lack insight and are not able to control their emotional issues. They would rather point the finger and project those issues onto someone else.

3. They enjoy and feel stimulated by violence

Bullies crave respect and attention. The biggest issue is that they go about getting those by instilling fear, as they do not how to have genuine alliances. They enjoy violence as it engenders fear, specially it the violence if inflicted in public. In this way, they get attention and instill fear in those watching.

4. Lack of empathy

Bullies come in different shapes and sizes

They are not able to put themselves in anyone's shoes.  They cannot feel what you feel, and they maintain a cold distance from their emotions and the emotions of others.  Some have postulated that these individuals do not have any feelings but in truth, they do.  They just think that others don't.  They use people to fulfill their emotional needs.  

5. Little capacity for self-criticism and low tolerance for frustration

They have a very hard time recognizing their mistakes. They will usually blame others for their failures, and they may use scapegoating if necessary.

6. Intolerant against differences

Differences and diversity of thought threaten them. They are not tolerant as this, they believe, may weaken their convictions. In truth, they are just extremely fearful of all types of freedom of expression.

7. Rigid thinking

Intolerance makes these individuals possess a rigid thinking pattern. They will have difficulty engaging in dialog and engage in true human connection.

8. They Defy rules

They feel rules do not apply to them.

9. Manipulators

They will say whatever they need to say to fulfill their goal, which is generally their own self-aggrandizement.

Were there childhood experiences that contributed to this type of personality? Likely. Would therapy help? Sure, even if it would prove to be a frustrating and long process, therapy may bring about change...but, how do you engage this individual to just sit and listen in the first place? First and foremost, your safety is paramount. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are safe.

Once you decide to go ahead, honing some of the aforementioned characteristics (only some of them!) to bring the bully to your table will be helpful: consider tactful manipulation. In this way, you may not outright say what your intentions are, - (really, you want to confront their behavior and have them rethink their posture) since they will likely not accede to the meet. How about showering them with compliments and telling them you really want to get to know them better? Once they agree, and they likely will, start by acknowledging their frustrations and validating their feelings. As they open up, you may be able to slowly introduce the concept of "change." If you are good, you will make them think change was what they wanted all along. Remember, this is about tactful negotiation and as with any negotiation it may stall or fail at any given point. Do use your empathy to navigate. Reel them in. Be flexible and creative.

Why not utilize the Z Form as an informed consent to engage this individual? The Z Form is being used as a tool to engage someone in a difficult intervention, one that may be fraught with challenges and misunderstandings. Z Form is here to help.

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