Dealing with Bullies

 Discover Exactly What To Say To Eliminate Criticism And Take Control Of The Conversation

Do you struggle with people making fun of you, picking on you, or otherwise criticizing you?

It can be an incredible frustrating experience that leaves you feeling powerless, upset, and stuck in low confidence.

Join Dr. Aziz as he describes exactly why this is happening, and more importantly, how you can respond with power, confidence, and bold assertion so you put a stop to it, once and for all.
Click below to hear this episode!

Learn How to Respond to the Bully, the Hater and the Critic

Welcome to today’s episode of Shrink For The Shy Guy, I’m your host, Dr. Aziz. And today we’re going to be getting into dealing with critics, bullies, haters, jerks, those people in your life that just give you a hard time.

You’re going to learn how to respond, what to do, what doesn’t work, and what to stop doing and what to do instead and how to see the situation so you end up more powerful, more in charge, more confident than you’ve ever been facing this stuff. So if you want to be a part of the show go to, You can find show notes, get the transcript, you can message me and I’ll answer your questions in the segment about Ask the Shrink. And also it’s just a way to stay in touch. So you can to as well that’s going to give you another great way to stay in touch.

Bullies, Haters and People That Give You a Hard Time

Let’s talk about bullies, haters, people that give you a hard time in your life. First of all, is that something you’re facing right now? It might be really front, row, center in your life and it might not be depending upon where you are and where you are in your confidence. But a lot of people deal with someone challenging. So the worst-case scenario is like daily on-going heckling, criticism and bullying. Now, sometimes people hear the world bullying and they think of like a playground like when we were kids. But the truth is and the reality is, is that shit happens now as adults in like workplaces. People could be ganging up on someone, teasing them, doing stupid shit, it just happens all the time. So that’s usually what I’m talking about, it could be a workplace environment, it could be with your friends, they tease you a lot or people you work out with or any group of people or even just one person in your life who’s actively, regularly giving you a hard time, that’s kind of the worst-case scenario.

Then there’s the more vague fear of dealing with someone’s random one-off criticisms or you get an email from someone that doesn’t like you. I have gotten a lot more of those in the last couple of years since I’ve reach more and more people there’s a certain percentage of people who don’t like me and they want to tell me about it via email, so I get a chance to build my own confidence muscle by figuring how to deal with those, but that’s another level of criticism that we might be dealing with in our life. So today’s show is going to be about giving you tools to deal with these things, to overcome these things so you don’t have to live in fear of it and you also know what to do when facing these things.

So I thought a great way to start if off actually is going to be reading a question I got from a listener that gave me the idea to do this show. And then as soon as I decided I was going to do this show I actually had two or three people write in and asked me very similar questions. So I’m going to read the first one that I got and unfortunately I did not copy listener’s name, so you’ll know who you are when I read it out;

Hey, Dr. Aziz. I love your show, your book, and I’ve invested in two of your training programs and they’re fantastic. I am making fast progress and I have a question that I hope that you can answer on your radio show. Okay. Here’s the question. I want to know what is the right reaction to have and what to say when people make fun of you in public, or make critical or mean comments, or ask personal questions in public they have no business to be asking. I tend to go completely blank thinking why the other person is doing that, how mean he is and how I’m getting humiliated in front of others because of that. And as my mind is messed up in all these thoughts, I don’t know how to give a good comeback. And even if I do manage to say something, I end up feeling guilty that I was mean and arrogant to that person. What do I do?

This is a great question. I mean, there’s so much in here, that’s why I want to start with this because it’s going to be kind of the groundwork from which I’m going to answer all of these questions and talk about this topic in general because it’s super valuable, I’m sure we can all relate to not knowing what to say in the moment, feeling a little caught off guard, getting stuck and then coming up with those great comebacks later on the drive home. The classic example of this is at Seinfeld with George Costanza and the Jerk Store, if you don’t know what I’m talking about you got to look up that clip on YouTube or wherever, type in George Costanza Seinfeld Jerk Store. That is a great example of coming up with the comeback later and then not knowing how to use it. And also this piece about feeling guilty that’s going to be powerful as well.


Let’s talk for a moment about bullying. What’s happening with this person, I don’t know their name, let’s call them John, what’s happening with John or Tiffany, who knows, what’s happening with this person that they’re getting picked on in the first place. Because this is actually the first place to start, some people will think about, well, what do I say or how do I comeback but we got to start with something much deeper first which is why is this happening to you in the first place. In my experience we get bullied or criticize regularly, ongoingly only when we are vulnerable to that. Only when we have some sort of something that we’re emitting or exuding that says… it’s like a target. You have a target on you that says, “Hey, pick me,” because someone could bully anyone in a workplace environment, there could be 50 or a hundred people there but they pick you, you got some target that says “Hey, pick me. Bully me.” And then the bullies are people that are critical, they have like a radar, they’re looking for like  who am I going to get? Who am I going to nail?” and then they see you like right in their crosshairs, you’ve got this big target on you and then boom they go in.

Now, sometimes they feel ahead of time but also sometimes based upon how you respond there is a kind of energy that you have that is really gratifying to them, they get a lot out of it, they get a lot of juice from it, and it feels good and then they want to do it again. And so the key here is there’s something happening in you that’s bringing this about and we want to change that. And so all the tips and suggestions I have for this listener as well as for you are going to be about how to change yourself, how to show up differently and more powerfully so that you’re no longer having a big red target right on your chest that makes the bullies want to give you a hard time. Does that make sense?

They Like the Response They Get

Let’s dive into that a little more. One reason people love picking on someone is because of the responses they get. So it’s pleasurable to them. So if you could make it uncomfortable for them and no longer pleasurable for them and they’re going to stop doing it. So that’s something to consider. And ways that we make it pleasurable, stuff that doesn’t… that brings about more of this bullying is, there’s this kind of buying into it that we do, so if someone gives you a hard time and you kind of say like, “No. That’s not true,” or “Shut up,” and you kind of get engage, you pick up on it and you want to fight them or you want to defend yourself or you get all worked up, and when you do that that is like crack cocaine for the bully, they’re like “Oohoohoo,” because really, what are they doing? They want to get some energy from you, they’re feeling low about themselves, they’re probably not feeling good about themselves as a human and by picking on you they feel slightly more significant, they get this boost of significance. And the more disturb you are by it the more energy they get and the more they want to do it and the more they’re going to keep doing it. So when we are a target like that it’s going to keep happening. And the key here, the solution here is assertiveness, bold assertion. Powerful assertion and we’re going to talk all about how to do that right after this break, stay tuned.

Let’s talk about a few things that you might try or have tried that don’t work and then we’re going to get in to the rest of the show, it’s going to be all about strategies, things that work, things that are going to answer all the parts of the question from Ask the Shrink as well as how to deal with bullies in general.

Things that Don’t Work

So here are a few things that you might have tried that don’t work. One, is engaging in it and trying to defend yourself. I talked about this before the break, getting all riled up. So they say something like you’re short or you made a mistake here, oftentimes bullying will kind of… they’ll put you into a category and then pick on that category.

So I have one client who work, he was in the engineering or the tech side of a company and the other side of the company was like the kind of the guys who had their… they were out on the field and they got their hands dirty and they were the tough guys, and they kind of picked on him as being like the weak engineer who’s not out in the real world. So they put him in that category and then he would try to defend himself, he’s like, “No, I do stuff too.” So they’ll put you into that category, if you try to defend it or fight it you’re toast.

Another thing he did which people often do is they ignore it completely and hope it will go away. Now, this might seem like a good strategy, right, because it’s like, “Well, they’re picking on me and ignore them they’re not going to get any energy out of me,” but you know what they’d still do and they’ll amplify and they’ll intensify and then they’ll get their buddies and then they’ll fucking throw wads of paper at you and yes, I’ve seen people in their 20s and 30s and older do this, it’s absurd but it happens. And so by totally ignoring them we’re actually not seemingly that powerful. We’re not making it uncomfortable for them, in fact they can tell we’re getting tensed and worked up and just trying to not say anything and it gives them juice still. That not responding at all is not going to work either. And there is a power to ignoring parts of them or pieces of what they’re saying, but I’ll tell you how to do that much more effectively in just a moment.

Another thing that you might try to do or people do is they try to go above the person’s head and tell on them, now in certain situations that might work. If someone is doing something that’s like clearly against company policy or a sexual harassment or something that’s actually maybe damaging to the company or anything along those lines, that’s a great solution. But a lot of the times bullying is not so clear cut, it’s more just like vague teasing and criticizing you and stuff that you can’t really peg someone on and then you’re going to go above their head and the person may or may not do something, maybe they’ll go talk to the other person. But I’m not saying… you’re going to know your situation better than me, I’ve just seen this not work as well as boldly as asserting and standing up for ourselves. Because sometimes it’s got a slight quality of like, “I got to go to the teacher to get you to stop,” and that can actually intensify. So obviously you decide what’s right for you, I’m just saying that I have seen than not work in the past.

What You Can Do That Will Work When Dealing with Bullies

So let’s talk about what to do instead, how to deal with bullies. And these are going to answer some of those questions that we have from the listener, “People are being critical or mean, people are making fun of me in public,” let’s talk about how to deal with that. So there is in public as in like in a meeting full of a ton of people and then there is also just like in front of several people and they’re kind of different situations so let’s break it down. Let’s say someone is picking on you and there’s several people around, it’s a small group, there’s like three or four people around.

Here are a few things that you going to want to do, one, is when they say something you want to fire back. You want to fire back. You don’t want to wait, you don’t want to be quiet, you don’t want to sit there, you don’t want to be stewing about it, you want to fire back, and here’s the thing that’s going to help you because some part of you is like, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a good comeback,” here’s how you fire back, you say something, say anything. It doesn’t matter what you say, what matter is the voice tone in which you say it. If you have a sense of confidence or power or just dismissiveness behind what you say, that’s going to be powerful. Firing back, so saying something and I’ll teach you exactly what kind of things to say in just a moment here, but keep in mind that opening your mouth and saying something is going to be a lot more powerful than not saying anything and being quiet.

In terms of what to say, let’s start looking at that now. So they pick on you for something, I find don’t go for the content of what they’re saying because then you’re hook, instead comment on what’s happening or fire back about what’s happening. Let me give you an example here, so someone, there’s no specific examples in this question but let’s say someone is picking on you, how are they making fun of you? Are they calling you stupid? Are they calling you fat? Are they implying you don’t know what you’re doing? Any of those things, instead of defending on those topics use the power of what’s called meta-communication, to comment on what’s happening. So you might say, let’s say the bully’s name is, I don’t know, Harold, say, “Wow, Harold. So you’re picking on me. Does that make you feel better about yourself?” Boom. Do you see, do you feel that? Whoa. That’s going to like pull a record off the player. Because he’s just in the mindset I’m going to pick on this guy, maybe he’ll play the game, the dance, we’ll go back and forth, but you just communicated about what’s happening, “Wow, so you’re picking on me, does that make you feel better about yourself?” And now what is he going to do? Is he going to keep going down the track or is he going to address what you’re saying?

So this is a super powerful tactic and this comes from knowing what bullying is coming from which is someone that’s not feeling better about themselves. So I might keep going down that track, “Are you not feeling that significant in your life? And so by picking on me you temporarily feel better? Does it feel good to have people laughing at what you say because then you feel like they like you?” Woohoo, I’m having a great time. I just want someone to pick on me, I’m ready for it. That’s how you want to be, you want to be ready for it, so practice these things. If you can’t say that, if you’re like, “Yeah, that sounds good, but in the moment I could never say anything like that,” then practice it. Get ready. If you’re getting regularly picked on then you know what he’s going to do, he does the same thing every day probably. So get ready practicing those phrases out loud. And here’s a thing, again, it’s not so much, I mean, the content is important but voice tone and firing back immediately, so practice saying it with boldness, with volume, with intensity. So instead of saying, “Uh, does that make you feel good to pick on me?” Say, “Wow, Harold, picking on me. Wow. Does that make you feel a little bit better about yourself?” So you have a volume and a power behind your voice, that’s super important.

Now, we’re going to take a quick break and when we get back I’m going to talk about how to turn the screws up to make it even more uncomfortable for the other person. Because when you do that, when you make it uncomfortable and they don’t, not only do they not get energy out of it but they actually get like a sting, they get a little buzz, they’re not going to want to do it again. So stay tuned, we’ll be right back right after this.

So let’s talk about more how to make it even more uncomfortable for them. Now, if you’re listening to this and thinking like, “Oh, I can’t do that, I don’t want to make it uncomfortable for people,” and you feel guilty like the question we had in the beginning, you can let that go. If someone is making fun of you, is challenging you, is criticizing you, is calling you names, is intentionally trying to embarrass or humiliate you then you have the right to defend yourself, to take care of yourself, and to protect yourself. This is important it’s not just something you could do it’s something that you should do. It’s something that is your right. And if you don’t think you have that right then that is a lack of taking care of yourself it’s a lack of self-respect. You want to have a bit of indignation, someone picks on you, you want to have an internal sense of “What the fuck. Oh no, you didn’t,” like that’s the kind of internal response you want to have and you turn that into assertiveness. And if you don’t have that it’s probably a sense of like, “Well, I guess I deserve it,” and “I’m not very good,” so to let go of that guilt know that you can do whatever you to take care of yourself and protect yourself.

So to make it even more uncomfortable is you want to… you don’t want to laugh and make it seem nicey-nice to try to smooth it over, you want to make it jarring. So a great example of this is I had a client and he was in an environment where he didn’t drink and other people would pick on him for not drinking and we talked about how to deal with that. He had a couple of people that kind of regularly tease him for it. And so what we talked about is there’s an instance where someone said like, “What do you got there like some milk?” I don’t know what they said, something lame, and then he said, “Does it make you uncomfortable that I don’t drink?” Just like that, long pause after he said it, no smiling, no niceness, just right in the eye, looked him right in the eye, “Does it make you uncomfortable that I don’t drink?” and what happened is that’s freaking uncomfortable. So instead of getting the pleasure of like you squirming around and his friends laughing and him being like, “Ha-ha, yeah, I’m tough guy,” he gets this like awkward social moment of like, “Um, uh, no, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable.” And that’s what you want. You want to make it awkward socially and if you can make it an awkward bomb, drop an awkward bomb on the situation because that is what’s going to like drive the experience to be unpleasant for him.

And when you think about this and to help heal the guilt or anything like that, think about you want to go Ender Wiggin on them. And this is so weird, I’ve been having this crazy sense of déjà vu the entire time I’m recording this, I’m like, “Did I record this exact episode? Did I use the Ender Wiggin example? I don’t think I did. I’m tripping out, man. Too little sleep with two little kids running around.” Okay. Ender Wiggin, have you listened to or read the phenomenal book called Ender’s Game? Movie adaptation was pretty blah, but the book is phenomenal. Read it. It’s awesome. But in there there’s a character, Ender Wiggin is the main character and he gets picked on by bullies a lot like physically beat up as a little kid. And he learns, he deduces that the best way to deal with it is to strike the head bully so hard and so fast and so brutally that he never bullies you again.

Physical Violence is a Bad Idea

Now, I would not in any way suggest physical violence against bullying, I don’t know, maybe if you’re like sixth grade or something it’s going to work but as an adult it’s a bad idea. Physical violence is a bad idea, you’re going to get in a lot of trouble. But I mean the awkwardness. Dropping awkward bomb that so damn uncomfortable that they don’t ever want to do that again, make it so just weird to do that to you that they’re like, “Whoa, I don’t want to mess with him.” Now, you don’t make it weird by like freaking out on them and saying, “Why do you say that to me,” because if you yell and get all riled up that’s more energy for them and they can make fun of you for that. So you want to keep it cool, calm, and direct. Member that assertive tone we’re talking about, but then what you say, you want to make it just uncomfortable for them. So here’s what I might do, someone is picking on me for something I might say, “Wow, Harold so you’re picking on me to, does it make you feel better about yourself? Do you not feel very significant in your life and so you do this? I wonder what’s going on with you that you would need that kind of energy.” Now, that’s pretty awkward. That’s a pretty awkward moment to say all that to someone especially if other people are around. And I would even recommend doing this if there’s more people around, that makes it even more awkward. Wow. And you might say, “Well, I couldn’t do that, they would crush me. They would comeback with an even better, more powerful response,” and you know what, they might. But is that a reason to not say anything and to play small and to hide and be weak and meek? No, fire back, if they get you then fire back with something else, think on your feet, you got this. The key is to get in the game and start fighting back because if you don’t then they’re just going to keep building and building.

Another super powerful secret that I want to share before the end of this episode about how to diffuse things is you can also make it… you can also have a dismissive tone that doesn’t engage in what they’re saying but it also still, you still say something, you’re not just totally ignoring them. So they something like, “Oh, you’re stupid,” or “You can’t do this,” or “You’re no good,” and you just look at them and you say, “I love you too Harold, I love you too. Do you want a hug?” And it’s totally dismissive of whatever they’re saying of whatever they’re doing.

Again, it’s ignoring but not the total silence method because you still want to demonstrate power, is they tease you, they do something, you just pause what you’re doing, you look at them and you say, “How old are you? Fuck.” And just go back to what you’re doing. So that is going to be your acknowledging them and then you’re dismissing them, you’re calling them immature when you say “How old are you?” or “What are you, in grade school, Jesus,” and then you go back to what you’re doing. Now that is a powerful way of ignoring but at least you’re acknowledging it, right, you’re not just pretending like you didn’t hear it or it’s not affecting you. So when you do that it’s still exerting that power and it’s still going to have a more of an influence on them. So that brings us to our action step for today.

Action Step

Your action step for today is to apply one these things, find an opportunity. Think about what you could say that would make it awkward. This idea of meta-communicating, how could you use that? What’s really going on with that person that makes them want to do that with you and how could you call that out, how could you say that, “Oh, are you trying to make me embarrassed? Oh, interesting. How is it working? Is it working? Should I be embarrassed right now?” I mean, if you could say stuff like that you just have so much social power and freedom, you can just run circles around these guys because they’re not thinking at that level, but you are. So, apply that in your life, give it a shot, let me know how it goes. We could even do another episode more in-depth, if you have follow up questions, you’re really curious about how this is… how to apply this in your life, go to, send me a message through that and I can’t wait to talk to you there. And until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you.

Music Credit

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Action Step:
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