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Defend Against Any Bully in 2 Simple Steps

Defend Against Any Bully in 2 Simple Steps
Verbal bully
    Verbal Bully

    If bullies were actually like Nelson from the Simpsons, they would be easy to avoid.  Unfortunately, most of the verbal abuse you will ever experience in life will come from co-workers, friends, or family.  The people you like or love are often the worst offenders, whether they meant to or not.  Even worse, most of the verbal attacks will not be obvious or cutting, but instead, they will be subtle and sarcastic.  Individually, small verbal stings may not feel painful, but over time, these stings can take a toll on your confidence, stress levels, and relationships.

    You won’t have time to analyze the attack and think about how to defend against it.  That’s why it is important to have a response ready for any type of attack in any situation.  The following two steps will show you how:

     

     

     

     

    Step 1: Remove Yourself from the Role of a Victim

    You may be confronted with a snide remark such as, “Are you always this absent-minded?”

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    How would you respond?  Would you become defensive and say, “I am not absent-minded!”?

    Many of us would be caught in the moment and become defensive.  Some of us would freeze and say nothing.  But the last thing you want to do is respond directly to their attack and give them the response they were looking for.

    Your best initial move is to remove yourself from the position of the “victim.”  Place yourself above the attack.  Act like it doesn’t bother you.  Step outside of the attack altogether and comment about the content of the attack itself (this is sometimes referred to as Meta-Talk). Talk about what they said or how they said it.

    Let’s take a closer look at some example defenses:

    “Stupid? Is that the best adjective you could come up with?”

    “Wow, that was so clever…how do you keep coming up with such great jokes?” (sarcasm)

    “That sounded like it was meant to insult me…”

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    “The way you said that was kind of child-ish, did you mean to say it like that?”

    “Absent-minded?  That’s a strong choice of words wouldn’t you say?”

    “Wow, you sound so bitter…maybe you should go take a break for a minute.”

    “You’re still hung up on pointing out my flaws, let’s try to move away from that and get down to the real issue.”

    These defenses accomplish four primary objectives:

    • It demonstrates to the attacker (and the audience), that the attack did not bother you
    • It implies that you do not place much value on what the attacker says
    • It implies that future attacks will not affect you either
    • In case the attacker did not mean to attack you, this defense makes them aware that they crossed over the line

    By vocally analyzing and dismantling their phrase or their delivery, you can take away its power and place yourself above the role of a “victim.” If you step outside the attack, it becomes impossible to be hit by the attack itself.   In fact, not only are you avoiding the attack, but this type of defense can simultaneously mock the attacker at the same time.

    If you’re faced with a relentless bully, you may want to add Step Two to your arsenal.  Not only do you want to avoid their stings, but you want to make them think twice about attacking you again in the future.

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    Step 2: Place the Target Back On the Attacker

    After you dodge the bullet, your next order of business is to shift the focus back on to your attacker.  Not much good ever comes from keeping the focus on yourself when a verbal war is being waged.

    An easy way to place the target back on the attacker is by exposing their intentions.  You may be poor at comebacks and witty repartees, but that’s the beauty of questioning the attacker’s intentions – everyone has an intention.  You don’t need to know some special information or come up with a clever remark in order to complete this type of defense.

    A bully may state, “You’re always so defensive.”

    A poor conversationalist would take the bait and respond, “No I’m not!”

    Instead, expose the source with one of these lines: 

    “Were you trying to be funny just then?  I wasn’t sure…”

    “Why are you trying so hard to point that out?  Do you need attention?”

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    “Are you trying to make me act defensive? Because it’s not going to work.”

    “Are you obsessed with ________?  Can’t you think of something else?”

    “Do you really think you can persuade me to ______?”

    “Do you always side with ______?”

    “Are you always this angry?”

    “Oh, you’re trying to be funny now, huh?”

    “You think you’re pretty clever don’t you?”

    These verbal defenses can easily throw your attacker off balance.  When you question someone’s intentions in this manner, it can be very hard to come up with a good response.  And if they do manage a successful response, you can go back to Step 1 and make a comment about it!

    It’s important to note that the two tips will be rendered useless if you become defensive or over-react.  Thomas Jefferson wisely said, “Nothing gives a person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”  That is still true today.  The person who seems to maintain their composure always has the edge.  If you can remain cool, calm, and collected during a verbal battle, you will always have the upper hand.

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    The 12 Golden Rules of Great Conversation: Part 1 of 2 The 12 Golden Rules of Great Conversation: Part 2 Defend Against Any Bully in 2 Simple Steps Don’t Let These 4 Habits Ruin Your Conversations Start a Conversation with a Stranger without Sounding Desperate

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2020

    What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

    What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

    The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

    But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

    Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

    So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

    Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

    The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

    1. A Positive Attitude

    Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

    Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

    Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

    Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

    The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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    Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

    2. Confidence

    All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

    Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

    If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

    Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

    You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

    • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
    • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

    3. A Sense of Humor

    It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

    Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

    Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

    As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

    Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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    Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

    4. Ability to Embrace Failure

    No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

    Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

    Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

    Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

    Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

    By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

    You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

    5. Careful Listening and Feedback

    This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

    The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

    The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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    Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

    Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

    6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

    No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

    Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

    Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

    To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

    • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
    • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

    Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

    7. Growth Mindset

    Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

    Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

    Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

    It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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    Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

    8. Responsibility

    Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

    The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

    Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

    Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

    9. A Desire to Learn

    It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

    Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

    You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

    Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

    To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

    The Bottom Line

    Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

    Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

    More Tips on Leadership

    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

    Reference

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