If you’ve been following the presidential debates, you are well aware of the bullying behaviors of some of our candidates. Gone are the days when politicians debated national and global issues. Shockingly, but not surprisingly, the debates have mutated into verbal warfare against each opponent. So who is to blame for this vile behavior? Many would point a finger at one candidate in particular who, from the get go, set the tone of slinging insults and vulgarities at his opponents. However, upon closer examination, it becomes quite evident that he is not the culprit.
For several decades, this country has embraced disrespect, anger, physical aggression, insults, and violence not only as a way of life but as a form of entertainment as well. Millions of people video tape, post, and view on the internet incidences of someone assaulting another person, whether adult or child; top rated shows on TV involve married couples or housewives slandering and abusing one another; today’s music is laden with violent undertones promoting aggression against women and rioting against humanity. Violence and bullying are a billion dollar industry. Those who do not actively speak out against it give permission for it to flourish and in doing become hypocrites for condemning those in the public eye vying for the presidential nomination. So it is not surprising to me at all that these debates contain the same components as Hollywood and social media.
Yet, even so, there are some who are appalled at the behavior of a handful of candidates and vow to cast a vote for another simply to prevent a mud-slinging politician from residing in the White House. Others cheer them on, feeling empowered by the audacity of those who speak what they themselves feel in their hearts. The irony is that while some admire bullies, it is this same behavior that is admonished in schools, is responsible for multiple suicides among young people being subjected to ongoing abuse; is cause for an employee to be terminated from their job or have harassment charges filed against them; enables individuals to get restraining orders against those who are threatening them; ends marriages and friendships and causes estrangements in families and much more.
This vulgar form of behavior reveals a lack of moral values and character in the bully. Contrary to what they would have you believe, their behavior is not indicative of confidence and self-assuredness but rather the exact opposite. Bullies are in fact insecure. They are overly concerned about how they are perceived by their peers and must continually prove themselves. They are self-absorbed (it’s all about them), view aggressive behavior as powerful, need to control (fear-based), have poor problem solving/debating skills, and lack compassion and empathy for others. Relying on such behaviors as insults, sarcasm, threats, ridicule, name-calling, and intimidation they experience a sense of power and control over their perceived enemy seeking to defeat him or her. Bullying, as with riots, arise out of feelings of desperation, fear, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Rationalizing, conversing, and negotiating appear insufficient strategies in achieving a desired result. In their minds, only aggressive actions will get the job done/suffice.
One who is truly confident acts from a place of mutual respect for all parties, even those they disagree with, and an eagerness to openly debate any given issue coupled with a true desire to find the most promising and lasting resolution. Opposing viewpoints are not perceived as threats to their intelligence, competency, or the outcome of the issue but rather as necessary elements to creating a win-win situation for all those involved.
For whatever my opinion is worth:
One of the biggest downfalls of the target occurs when they take personal offense to the bully’s words. What the bully is saying reflects their lack of integrity and is in no way reflective of who you are. Therefore, when dealing with a bully, it is imperative to remain in control of your emotions. Bullies seek to get a reaction from their targets as a way of gaining dominance over them. By remaining emotionally detached from their words, the target is able to maintain their composure and reply intelligently and with dignity rather than react emotionally. Always speak and/or respond with confidence. Be assertive, rather than aggressive, and set boundaries whenever necessary.
Attacking any individual is rude and disrespectful, and reveals a level of insecurity not indicative of a strong leader. One must remember to attack the issue and not the person. Refrain from trading insults. Refuse to lower yourself to their level but rather set the standard to raise them up to yours. Stick to the real issues of the debate and leave personal attacks where they belong – buried deep in obscurity.
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