Highly sensitive people need to know how to deal with a bully. Since HSPs are different and not particularly suited to violent interactions, they need to become astute in determining the social and interpersonal attitude of another people. People who think bullying is acceptable behavior can be anyone from extremely antisocial individuals to those from wealthy social classes. All bullies think they have a good reason to behave as they do, whether from injustice or entitlement. It is also useful to notice if an individual treats others well as a matter of course or if the good treatment occurs only as a result of compliance. So step one is to know the person, to the extent it is possible.
It is useful to have a method of handling the daily negative interactions with strangers and acquaintances that deescalates negative feelings without taking on the other person’s problems. Being able to say in a neutral tone of voice: ” I am sorry you are having (the person’s problem)” and offering an appropriate solution that is non harming to you can make life easier.
Strategy For Dealing with Bullying
An excellent and useful approach to handling bullies was developed by Ben Leichtling. He describes a method of engaging the bully problem in his book How to Stop the Bullies in their Tracks. Dr. Leichtling describes a process where you make a decision about each bullying situation as to whether or not you will put up with the situation, negotiate, fight, or terminate the relationship. He starts essentially by testing the benevolence of the bully. If the bully steps on your toe, literally or figuratively, and laughs when you say ouch, the bully is interpersonally insensitive. The willingness on the part of the bully to engage in a positive relationship determines the potential for a rewarding outcome or the end to the relationship.
Dr. Leichtling also offers an approach for creatively engaging with the bully. Essentially you need to shift the power balance so that the bully no longer feels invincible, and therefore must change your interactions with their bullying targets. Bullies succeed best when the people around them are in the dark about what is happening. We have all heard the stories about the perfect families that are really a bullying nightmare behind closed doors. By raising awareness, gathering evidence, and publicizing the evidence, many bullies can be made to back down. The court of public opinion can be powerful.
HSP Advantages and Disadvantages in How to Deal with Bullying
HSP sensitivity can be a disadvantage in dealing with bullies because HSPs can be slower to respond to the behavior. The natural tendencies of HSPs are not aggressive and can be perceived as weakness. On the other hand, HSPs are also very creative which can enable them to find creative solutions to social problems and their natural empathy can help them achieve a positive standing in the community which a bully may not easily dislodge. HSPs tend to isolate to protect themselves from excess stimulus and need to consider increasing their social presence as a protection from the harmful behaviors of predatory bullies.