POSTED IN: Life & Love
January 1, 2013

Photo from BSU Chapter of Free the ChildrenSome days we all feel hesitant to go out because we might bump into a certain someone –
someone who makes us feel like pathetic losers.

Before we get started…

First of all, remember to take advice from people who have known you for a long time and from those who understand your personality and situation. People tend to judge situations from their own experiences. If they weren’t there for your experience, it is difficult for them to have an accurate interpretation of the event.

I don’t know your situation and my advice may not apply to you – if you need to talk, sit down with someone who has known you for a long time and be open to their honest opinions. Describe the situation from both sides and don’t get defensive when you hear something you don’t like.  Don’t discuss problems with a “Yes Man”. Talk to someone who is open minded and can play an advocate for both sides.

Second, use logic instead of emotion to discuss your situation. Just because you “feel” like you’re in the right, that may not be the case. You need solid facts, unattached from emotional interpretations. Emotions can easily cloud the truth or lead to exaggerations. Remember your goal here is to develop into a better person, not to win an argument.

The Difference between Teasing and Bullying

Teasing is not a bad thing – it’s like pooping: some people don’t like it, but it’s a regular occurrence. Teasing is a social interaction that, surprisingly, builds relationships. The root of teasing is humor – good or bad – and not intentional harm.

Teasing can lead to good humored banter between friends, builds wit, gives us opportunities to better deal with dramatic situations without tears or aggression, break social tension, and reveal things not known to us. In the end, our response to teasing transforms from tears, frowns, and aggression to witty comebacks, laughs, and revelations into our own and other people’s personalities.

You can’t just go around teasing anyone you want. Teasing strangers is rude. Teasing is a privilege among classmates, co-workers, friends, and family – people who have experienced your personality first hand. With teasing, there is an ounce of truth mixed in with the exaggerated jesting. So in order to tease, you need to know the actual truth – something you find out when you know someone personally.

Example: A group of girls, not all friends yet, are out for brunch and are sharing gossip to get to know each other better. Girl 1 asks, “how many boyfriends have you had?” The girls answer one by one until Girl 4 answers “7”. Girl 1 gasps and cries out loudly, “You slut!” An uncomfortable silence falls onto the table and everyone stares at Girl 1, but she’s oblivious to the rudeness of her comment that was directed at someone she barely knows.

Unfortunately, chronic teasing can lead to bullying when sensitivities are ignored. Different people are sensitive to different topics. It is your responsibility to find out what these sensitivities are, apologize when you step over the line, and take action to remedy the situation. If you choose not to do anything to better the situation, then you are on the path of becoming a bully.

Bullying is the act of intentionally harming emotionally and/or physically another individually for self-gratification of some kind. Bullies have something missing in their lives – control, self-esteem, accomplishment, outlet for aggression, etc. Bullies don’t care about becoming better contributors to society – they just want the instant gratification of humiliating someone they consider weak.

It’s starting to hurt

You’re in a situation where you’re being teased and it’s starting to hurt. Deal with the problem right away without being a spaz. Stay away from raising your voice and shedding tears. Convey your hurt clearly and state your sensitivities: “You’re going to far with that. It’s not funny. I’m sensitive about my ____ .” Now, STOP and LISTEN. This is your chance to find out why you’re being teased. Maybe you really do stink, are oblivious to other people’s feelings, dress weird, etc. Maybe it’s something you can change, have to accept, or explain.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to stop the pain when it starts. If you don’t let people know your limitations for teasing, it opens up the doors for more people to tease you about it.

If the teasing does not stop (after you have confronted the person) and becomes more frequent, you may be a victim of bullying.

Example: A girl is being pushed around after class by two boys, simply because no one was around and the boys thought the girl could not defend herself. Everyday they shoved her around and laughed as they walked away. The girl asked what their problem was and they just laughed at her. (Ending: After some more violent shoving, the girl grabbed a desk and threw it at them. They never bothered her again. It wasn’t the best solution, but it did get happy results.)

Your first step is to build a support system. Although some people find it refreshing to tell a stranger their problems, I believe discussing the issue with someone who knows you well for a long time will get you a more honest and personalized solution. Let someone close to you know the situation from both sides and keep emotions out of the picture. State the facts. Then, STOP and LISTEN!

Maybe you are being oversensitive or your bad mood is amplifying the negative side of the situation. You won’t know for sure until you list the facts and let someone else analyze the situation. Don’t be defensive until all the facts are listed.

Example: Girl 1 is claiming that she is being bullied by Girl 2. The facts: Girl 2 called Girl 1 oblivious and Girl 1 is hurt by the accusation. The situation: Boy 1 has an obvious injury and did not want to talk about it, but Girl 1 unrelentlessly asks him over and over again how he got the injury. Girl 2 notices Boy 1’s frustration, calls Girl 2 oblivious, and has called Girl 2 oblivious on many other occasions before. Girl 2 is more interested in satisfying her own curiosity and doesn’t realize she is intruding on Boy 1’s privacy. Result: Girl 2 was not bullying Girl 1.

Example: Girl 2 is claiming Girl 1 is an abusive bully. The facts: Girl 2 works everyday and is attending school, so the living space can get really messy. Girl 1 also works everyday but returns home late (for reasons unknown). The situation: Girl 1 forces Girl 2 to clean everyday, whether or not the space is dirty. If the space is not cleaned, Girl 1 drags Girl 2 out of bed in the middle of the night and will not allow Girl 2 to return to bed until the space is spotless. Girl 2 is abusively controlling the life of Girl 2 to make up for the loss of control in her own life. Result: Girl 1 is a bully.

If it’s agree that you are being bullying, it’s time to figure out a plan of action. Problem solving and people management are invaluable skills that will help solve current issues and will make future confrontations easier and easier. Each situation is unique because the people involved are unique, so you will have to tailor your solutions accordingly. Only people who know you well and trained professionals can provide you with a selection of options that fit your situation. It may take a few confrontations, but it is a phenomenal achievement when you win the respect of a bully, without becoming a bully yourself.

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