Trying to deal with a bully as an adult, especially when it’s a peer, can be a weird experience. One of those “aren’t we grown-ups here” kind of moments. As adults we have these ‘social niceties’ we’ve learned, and that are expected of us as we get older. We’re not supposed to throw tantrums or call people names. There are people that do all of those things, and chances are you’ve met one, or two. For some of us it probably takes everything within us to not want to start a fight. It’s hard for us to reconcile being an adult when people are acting like children.
If you are a bully you probably aren’t going to read this article; and you’re probably not going to change. Bullies, in or out of the Military, come in all shapes and sizes; and they don’t look like witches or have big horns coming out of their heads either. These people might not even be aggressive. My most recent experience with bullies was quite the opposite. My friend and I were speaking with each other at a conference when some spouses of higher-ranking military members came up to my friend. They didn’t even acknowledge my existence. Instead, they looked at me, knew I was there but made the conscious decision to ignore me and edge me out of the conversation. They just decided I wasn’t worth their time. Were they being aggressive? No they weren’t, but being aggressive isn’t the only way you can be a bully. Changing someone who is already a bully probably isn’t going to happen; it could, but probably not. What steps can you take to make sure you aren’t coming across as being one?
- Treat each spouse with respect. Do you find yourself segregating yourself off by rank, branch or those your husband/wife works with? While a sense of community is great, getting out there and socializing with everyone sets a great example for others within your group; as well as those that are watching you. It may be difficult to get the actual service member involved because of issues of fraternization, but setting up a good relationship with different ranks and branches on your base or in social settings (moms groups, enlisted/officer clubs) is a great idea to create a cohesive environment. We are all working towards the same goal.
- Would you say it to your mom? This is the big pet peeve of mine. You might have a bad relationship with your mom, so the example might be a bad one; but you get the point. If you disagree with someone find a nice way to say it, or don’t say it at all, unless the situation really calls for it.
- You don’t know everything. Dominating the conversation and acting like you know everything is a top characteristic of a MilSpouse bully. You might consider yourself a veteran, you might be a well-researched newbie; and maybe you are somewhere in-between. Acting like you know everything is just going to put people off. One of my good friends said to me, “I try to remember at one time I probably had some seemingly stupid questions about military life.”
- Social Media isn’t for Bullying – This sort of relates to number two. I can’t tell you how often I see fully on cat fights and drama fest on Facebook. People use the computer to wield their words like weapons. Be careful not to fall into that trap.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up to people. Setting the example for how you treat people, and not allowing them to be treated with disrespect is a great way to avoid becoming a bully yourself. If you’re like me then the confrontation just isn’t worth it. I know what I believe and feel, but sometimes I have a hard time with confrontation. Shutting down and avoiding the situation is how I usual deal with things. You will also be doing your part to let others know for those who can’t, that it is not okay. We’re adults for heaven’s sake!
We probably won’t ever see the day when bullies don’t walk among us, but we can do our part to not add to their numbers. Maybe standing up to them will not allow them to be in control.