How to Communicate With Bullies & Their Victims

How to Communicate With Bullies & Their Victims
Family, Self

Act on what is known about bullying to communicate with the bully and the victim to build compassion

Nobody wants contact with a bully, in grade school or at any age.  From a compassionate communication standpoint ( even a bully has a reason for his/her actions. As hard as that may be to understand OR accept, if we know his story, we might find it easier to connect.  That doesn’t mean to accept it, but rather to see what need he wants fulfilled.

Pushing and hitting on the playground, the bully may want attention, or to feel strong or to ensure that he feels safe.  If a teacher, instead of saying, “Go back to the classroom right now!!” said “It looks like you are having a hard time getting to play with the other kids” or “I wonder if we can talk about what is happening right now with you,” that minute of being connected with could be the start of turning the child’s behavior around.

It makes sense to me what Marshall Rosenberg ( has taught in his Nonviolent Communication work the past 50 years. He says  “Everyone always does the best they know how to try and meet their needs. (And I repeat a version of this several times in my two-hour workshops on “Dealing with Difficult Conversations.”) When I know my housemate is not out to frustrate me, but is just doing what she is doing to meet her need, I don’t have to take anything she does personally.  As simple as it may sound, connecting with what others are feeling and needing has been the most useful communication skill I have ever learned. If Jane has left dishes in the sink for two days, a bully might say “Those dishes better be gone in one hour, or you will be sorry!”
If you are choosing harmony over anger, you might say, “I guess you have been busy with other things, and—not “but” (Marshall says to never put your “but” in another person’s face), I’m having a hard time seeing stuff left in the sink. I really prefer order and neatness.  Would you be willing to take care of the dishes this evening?”  She may or may not do that, and yet you’re both more likely to feel peaceful for speaking in a matter of fact tone of voice without blame.

At , 2/3 of all teens say cruel behavior takes place online—92% reported that on facebook. Sadly, only 10% of parents are aware their teens are targets of cyberbullying. Check out how to prevent that at  There are potentially harmful actions, such as in Bradshaw’s video, about zero tolerance, conflict resolution,  peer mediation, etc.  A comprehensive plan is necessary. Knowing the research and not making assumptions are a great starting point.

At, check the videos  and the many links.  I also found at many comforting parts.
Another source: ( .

At --Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.  While some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic,[24] bullies can also use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self-esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser feels empowered.[25] 
Summing it up, the bullying-cycle must include both an act of aggression on the part of a potential bully, and a response by a potential target that is perceived by both as a certain sign of submission.  Should the intended target respond with a clear attitude of self-confidence that somehow demonstrates that the bully's attempt to dominate is futile, then the bullying attempt will often quickly diminish or end all-together.  This Wikipedia page was the most comprehensive, with 80 footnotes and several references to read.

100 Acts of Kindness Checklist ( suggested ways to build on our natural concern for others.

At, hear A Compassionate Perspective on Bullying, then go to for more.
Other actual behaviors are shared at

After much reading on bullying, what stands out the most is connecting with the feelings and needs of both the bully and his or her victims. When the victims feel the support of parents, teachers and friends, they are more likely able to remember and know that there is nothing wrong with them, and thereby more easily ward off and not be impacted by the harassment of bullies.  Taking the time to listen, anyone in the bullied person’s life can patiently and lovingly assure him or her and connect with what he is feeling and needing.  I will be happy to offer a free 30-minute coaching session for anyone whose life is impacted by bullying.  Call me at 206-938-8385 or email me the form at .