What, exactly, is bullying?
First, it doesn’t always involve physical battering. Bullies are clever; they want to hurt their targets in less obvious ways. A bully (male or female) will look for vulnerability in their victim and exploit it to cause maximum emotional pain… sometimes to the point where their target commits suicide… and that’s why Julie is so passionate about identifying bullies.
Second, let’s be clear that any human relationship can involve a bully. It doesn’t end at graduation. Bullies continue to find targets in the military, in social clubs, in the workplace, in their marriage… virtually anywhere.
Bullies don’t “outgrow” bullying.
So what marks a bully? Here are a few consistent traits:
He or she will have a Jekyll and Hyde personality, but all their good works don’t outweigh the cruel things they eventually do. A bully has a compulsive need to criticize and will hold deep prejudices, although he/she will go out of their way to seem unprejudiced. A bully will be excessively charming in front of witnesses, but vindictive behind closed doors. They are so good at this duality that people find it hard to believe that “such a great guy/gal” could be so vile.
Bullies have a superior attitude, a sense of entitlement and invulnerability, and they are highly manipulative. People in their sphere soon learn to be careful of what they say because a bully will frequently misinterpret ordinary satire, jokes or general negative comments as personal attacks directed at them. They think that their opinion is the only one that has value and they will belittle anyone who disagrees with them. And woe to the person who calls him/her to account or challenges them! Bullies despise anyone who enables others to see through their mask.
Of course, all of this puts a great deal of stress on co-workers, spouses, or anyone else in close association with such a person… Julie hopes that’s none of you!