Gibbs is a celebrated expert on the subject of bullying or what sociologists term as “dominance behaviour”. Let us first define the limits of what one understands as bullying; at least what Brooks understands as bullying.
He makes it a very clear point to distinguish between verbal assault and actual physical assault. His response is not Christian or Gandhian, i.e. he does not believe in turning the other cheek when one is punched in the face. This is a felony, not bullying.
Bullying is like a game, at least when one looks at it from a psychologist’s point of view, or even from a socio-political point of view.
Like the law of jungle, and for whatever reason, bullies feel the need to dominate the party in front of them. And as a result, they derive a certain sense of achievement, adequacy and pleasure if the other person strikes back, but a little feebly.
The very act of striking back, but just not enough, makes them target individuals from whom they expect little to no resistance. When they get the desired response from these people they simply keep on going because it gives them pleasure; the tendency is much like a junkie.
Brooks Gibbs, author of the book Love is greater than hate, organises workshops and seminars where he helps people counter this very issue.
Bullying, in today’s world is a deep and very dark issue, and has among other things not only caused depression, anxiety and mental issues in the victims of it later down in their lives, but has also driven many to end their lives, prematurely at that.
Gibbs preaches a policy of ‘raising kids strong’ and resilient. This is a policy of a very special kind of response against bullying. If you deny a junkie his pick-me-up, he will be forced to seek in elsewhere, and he will invariably leave you alone.
The response is to not back off, but stand your ground and match them word for word, but not in their own spirit. If an alpha chases you and you run away, the chase will go on. However, if you stand your ground and meet them headlong, they will see an equal or strong adversary, and back off.
The response is, just be polite. If they call you ugly, stupid, idiotic, etc. just listen to them and say thank you for the information. If they try to rile you up and anger you about any of your habits, tell them to teach you how to do it better.
This kind of resilience is something that can help mend or better the lives of millions of children on the receiving end of bullying.
At the same time, Gibbs warns all about the fact that violence should not be trivialised as bullying. Violence has only one remedy, reprimand or worse, punishment, and professional help.
Bullying, teasing and verbal abuse however, can be countered using this method.
Be resilient and be strong. And more importantly cut them with your politeness.