Ep 7: Real Confidence- How to Deal with Grown-Up Bullies
Hey, hey, you know, I get asked to speak on a variety of topics, but they're usually very close to the confidence, word, confidence to give presentations, confidence to participate in meetings, even the psychological safety stuff that we're into these days. I get asked a lot and obviously very close to confidence. So while I often talk about confidence, villains and other bullies, I was really surprised when I was asked to come back to keynote for the second year in a row, a nursing conference, and they said to me, would you talk about how to handle bullies? And I was like, What do you mean? And I thought immediately, doctors, patients, bullying nurses. And they said, well, it's kind of a known thing in the nursing field that nurses eat their young was the phrase they used. I was like, what? What are you talking about now? Now, digging into the subject deeper, which I won't do too much here because I know many of you listening are not nurses, but it turns out that nurses are really bullied. So much so that the number one career, number one field that gets reported into the Central Bullying Association is actually from nurses. It's, it's heart wrenching. But I think when you understand why and how it happens, it makes a lot of sense, doesn't make it right. But at least you can understand why. And we're going to delve into this issue of bullying in general, whether you're a nurse or not, because we all are subject to it actually more than you realize. So let's think about it for a minute. There's some obvious bullies in our worlds. It almost doesn't matter who you are. We've all had a mean boss, or maybe we currently have one.
We have some dominating relatives, a father, an uncle, a mother. an aunt, somebody that really just is always kind of imposing their, not just opinion, but their way. Right. I, I know that there are everyday bullies that we come in contact with. You know, you go to, say, travel, and the person behind the, the agent that's behind the desk may give you kind of that sourpuss pucker face. Look, anyone who remembers the movie Monsters, that Roz’s personality kind of snarling, so to speak, and not particularly friendly in any way. You know, my son Ben works in a supermarket, and every night he comes home and tells me about the customers, let alone some of the staff, but the customers that come in and bully the staff demanding and how dare you? And Ben's comment is, Mom, we're just like part time workers minimum wage. And I'm like, I it doesn't matter. Like nobody has the right to be bullied for crying out loud. So if you think about these types of personalities or these types of behaviors, really they are common because the bully is trying to make somebody else feel less than. Trying to take their confidence, try to make them feel inadequate, weird, outsider, somebody that a bully just wants to make themselves feel better at somebody else's expense. Now, this is like and maybe not shocking because you think about it for kids, but of course, as adults, we don't always see the world the same way for ourselves, let alone other adults. But I want to think about this, because if the game, if you will, is to make somebody else feel weaker, less than vulnerable. Then there's an awful lot of other bullies that you probably don't even recognize now.
Forgive me, I love salespeople. We're all salespeople in reality, but pushy salespeople, the prototypical used car salesperson or anyone that is trying to make you buy something that you really don't want, but you're being led to believe you need it, you should have it, you deserve it. Those pushy salespeople, that's a form of bullying. How about the guy that you know that knows a guy, the person that always has a connection or knows somebody more important than you do or that you need to talk to? It's that person that's not really trying to be helpful as much as trying to impress you. Right. Or the woman who constantly is telling you all the great things that their kid has accomplished. You know, they don't necessarily care that they're upsetting you, that your kid is maybe as accomplished or in some cases may be completely disabled. I mean, I did an interview years ago with these two moms, and they were rock stars. Both their daughters were bipolar. And so they wrote a book about shut up, about your perfect kid. And it really kind of opened my eyes that in our need to impress and kind of brag about our own kids, we actually could really bully other people, other parents that don't have that ability or don't want to brag about their kids. So needless to say, that's another form of it. I'll give you one more. You know, and this is kind of an all-inclusive but anyone who's flaunting their wealth, their knowledge, their connections, any kind of brag, if you will, flaunting of that, that's a bully. You know, anyone who's cocky, bitchy, bitter, arrogant, indifferent, let's throw in pedantic in that mix. That's when somebody makes you feel deliberately stupid, you know, or somebody who is indifferent.
It just doesn't pay attention to you. Kind of like blows you off, you know, again, all forms of bullying. And the commonality is that they're trying to make somebody else feel less important, less relevant, less that they belong. And so the bully is whether intentionally or not, stealing the other person's confidence. Now, I will say this is a social construct. This is just part of who and how we act, particularly in the United States. You know, we're very much taught to put in our LinkedIn profiles all our accomplishments and how awesome we are, our resumes, everything else that's supposed to reflect our awesomeness. And it doesn't take into consideration anybody else's feelings, anybody else's kind of reaction other than we want them to be impressed. So, what can we do about it? You know, like what are our options here about being bullied? And when I say options, let's get to the heart of the heart of what the problem really is first. Right. That's kind of the mojo that I practice through all the coaching at American Confidence Institute is until you really know what the problem is and subsequently the fear your options may not be really good options. So let's think about that. Is the problem that you're being bullied? No. No, because it's really not a problem if you don't let it be a problem, if you completely just ignore, don't care about it, it's not a problem. But if you do, let it crawl under your skin. The problem is that you do feel less than you feel like you don't belong, that you're not good enough. And maybe even the problem. In addition, is that you allowed somebody else to control that. That you've given the bully the power that they seek by allowing yourself to feel badly about yourself.
That's the problem, that's the problem. So the heart of the fear, and the three fears in terms of confidence that we look at is fear of failure, fear of regret and fear of rejection. So think about any of those scenarios before, maybe somebody who's told you about how great their kid is or how much they've accomplished and those three fears go off like fireworks in your amygdala, you start to think, I have failed as a human being. I have failed as a parent. I have failed as a student. I have failed as a professional, whatever. You regret. Oh, my God, I should have made different decisions, I should have should have, should have. You should all love yourself. In the last one is always the big fear of rejection. Oh, my God, this person doesn't think I'm so good. What does the rest of the world think of me? Because clearly I'm not as good as they are, so I must not be as good as everyone else. Now, that rejection button as you'll hear me in every podcast, that's the biggie. That's the biggie. And that's the big one that kind of ties even failure and regret, because at the end of the day, we want to belong. We want to matter. We want to feel that we've accomplished and done enough to be part of the human race, to be part of other things. So subsequently, when we feel that tugging at us, that's really what brings our confidence to its knees. All right, so now we know what the problem is. So what are our options? How can we avoid that feeling of I suck or I'm not as good as that person at least? Or maybe I haven't done enough, been enough? Maybe I'm a failure.
Well, we can certainly avoid the bullies to some extent, like, if you know somebody in your world is, a relative or a boss or whoever. Yeah, you could kind of try and avoid them. But my guess is it's inevitable, even with people that, you know, are bullies. And, of course, there's people that you're going to come in contact with, like the Roz's behind the travel desk, right, that you can't just avoid them, it just shows up in your world, so that's not really a great option. You could, second option, maybe when you get bullied like that, just not say anything, shut your mouth. Right. Just not react. Not respond. And don't feed it, don't give it more fuel. That's an option. Does it make you feel necessarily better? Does it stop the bully from continuing? No. It doesn't. So not saying anything is not a terrible option, but certainly not the best option, in my opinion. I think our natural reaction is to defend ourselves. You know too, well, my kid, or I did, or you know, this is why I made that decision, you know, one of my favorite bullying tactics and it really gets me good personally is when people are surprised that I haven't read all the books or listened to all the podcasts that they have. What do you mean you haven't heard Alyssa’s podcast, right? What do you mean you don't know her? You don't know that? You didn't read that book? As if, since I didn't read that book, I'm not an expert in my field or I'm not as cool as that person or I'm out of touch, you know, that's classic bullying tactic. So defensively you might immediately you want to say to yourself, OK, I'm going to go get the book.
I'm going to go order it on Amazon. Or, you know, I'm so busy, I have so many other books that I've read, I just haven't gotten to that one. Or, oh, my God, I can't believe I missed that. All of this defensive stuff coming out of the brainstem, coming out of my survival cave person place because I don't want to be bullied, but I'm allowing that person to do it. So, again, it's an option, it’s not one of my faves. Here's what I recommended to the nurses and here's what I'm going to recommend to you, it's a better option. And, another quotable that I use a lot is that you can acknowledge somebody without agreeing. Acknowledge without agreeing, which means you let them know that you heard them, but you don't tell them that you agree with what they said. Now, sometimes we do this for nonverbal visual, shaking your head. Sometimes we go, OK, OK, OK, or yeah, or something like that, which implies agreement. So we have to not do those things in order to tell somebody, I heard you, and, I'll use the word and again, and I don't agree. Not, but I don't agree. Now, but is an interesting word. When I say but, it triggers off somebody else's amygdala, but. Watch the difference. Let's just say somebody says to me, Alyssa, I really hated that podcast, I really hated it, it was terrible and I just didn't agree with anything that you said, and I really feel that like you're doing a disservice. Let's just say that's that kind of a bully comment. I hope I never hear that. But you never know, right? My answer would be it's unfortunate you feel that way, and I hope you'll continue to listen to others that may be better suited for your likes.
All right, there you go, there's that and statement. I could also say something, your feedback is really important to me, and I hope you'll continue to listen and provide me other feedback that may be more precise so I can improve going forward. All right, so again, I haven't said that I agree with the feedback that that person gave me, that comment, but I've acknowledged I've heard them. And when they feel acknowledged, guess what, their amygdala settles down. They come a little bit out of bully behavior, in fact, sometimes a lot out of bully behavior because they're being hurt, because they're being acknowledged, because they feel wanted. Now, here's the key. Yeah, it feels like I may be bending over a little bit to you, maybe I'm being a little bit subservient. I'm not. What I'm doing is I'm controlling their brain. I'm controlling the way they feel so they feel better about themselves. So they lay off on me because I ain't given them my confidence. But I can give them theirs. So by using that phrase “and”, and acknowledging that I heard them, I hear your concern and. It really helps for that reason. Does it always work? No, because the bully has to hear you, right, and they may be so uptight, so upset, so traumatized, whatever their excuses for being a bully, they may not hear you, but it is worth a try. And in that moment, you've taken control of your own confidence. You're owning it, you're protecting it, and you're not letting that person take it from you. That's what it's all about right. Now, I'll give you one other little power tip here and I call it a smack. You going to smack them back when you go to say that beautiful phrase, it's unfortunate you feel that way and or I hear your concern and.
Do a big smile before you say it, so the “SM” in smack is smile, it's really hard to bully somebody who's smiling at you. And if the bully does it, man, they're going to feel really bad about it later. So maybe just use it as your little shield, your smile shield, so “SM” smile and then “ACK” smack them back with acknowledgment. All right. So smile and acknowledge those are the kind of protection shields that I want you to put on for your confidence in any bully situation. So, my friends, it is always my mission when I get up in the world in the morning to give more confidence to the world because it makes me feel like a superhero. But again, we're all superheroes because we can give each other confidence. So not only keep yours protected from those bullies out there as you go through your world later today and forever more keep it safe because the world needs your confidence and they need to have their own. So if you can help somebody else bully or otherwise, please do. And the simple way you can help other people with their confidence is if you liked this podcast and you think somebody else could benefit from it, please share it. Do it on social media, like or share, or just let them know where the link is. I would be so grateful. And together we can bring more confidence to the world. Thanks so much for listening. This is Alyssa Dver, I'm looking forward to talking to you again soon on the next podcast. In the meanwhile, please shine, smile, acknowledge. You are awesome and no bully’s going to take that from you. Take care.