Stand Up to Intimidation

Boy being bullied in schoolHow and when to stand up to intimidation is a topic much on the minds of many people in the United States and around the world. I’m on the board of a regional society of psychiatrists and at our most recent meeting this topic generated the most vigorous and enthusiastic discussion that I have seen at that meeting in years. The psychiatrists wanted to share ideas about how they might personally respond as well as how best to support their patients who are dealing with their own anxiety and fear.

This blog post will be at least a temporary location for information and good ideas that I find from various sources about ways of responding to the current situation.

Longtime readers will recall that I am a big fan of Rick Hanson who distributes regular emails called “Just One Thing.” This week he wrote a thoughtful piece entitled “Stand Up to Bullies” from which I will abstract a few ideas. I encourage you to read it and to sign up for the emails that he sends out on a number of helpful topics. They are free.

Rick offers these thoughts…

See It

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck … it’s probably a duck. Bullies have most if not all of these identifying characteristics:

  • Dominating – Have to be the “alpha”; fear of looking “one-down”; thus must find targets who seem seem weaker; no compassion
  • Defensive – Never wrong; fault and scorn others; avoid personal responsibility
  • Deceptive – Manipulate grievances to gain support; blame scapegoats; cheat; hide truth since power is based on lies

Recognize Enablers

Some people and organizations make use of bullies, sort of like profiting from a crime someone else commits. Or they pretend all is normal, or that a relatively small issue to the side is a more important focus than what the bully is doing. Or they try to justify bullying, such as: “both sides do it,” “but she’s your mother,” “kids are like that,” or “they need a tough CEO.” From playgrounds to parliaments, people with an authoritarian personality style often have an affinity for bullying leaders, and commonly form the core of their supporters…

Stand with Others

Bullies target lone individuals or minority groups to prove their dominance and create fear. So gather allies who will stand with you if you’re being bullied. For example, a teacher was harassing our daughter (and we found out, girls in general), so we reached out to other parents and enlisted the aid of the principal; things changed. 

And together, stand with and for those who are bullied. It may make no material difference. But it always makes a moral and psychological difference to those who stand – and to those they stand for.

The New York Times just posted an interesting article with tools and strategies for political activism that includes some tools for standing with others… detects your location and shows you contact information for your congressman and senator and also gives you tools and tips for communicating with them about your concerns. can help you find the “others” who will stand with you. You can find groups of like minded individuals of almost all kinds.

For More Information

Coping with Political Uncertainty