Compliments of Rainbow Gryphon via Flickr

Compliments of Rainbow Gryphon via Flickr

I don’t like being pushed around!” Targets might make this statement in a last ditch attempt to reclaim their rights. Bullying is in fact a form of boundary violation, in which someone fails to respect your parameters. In a section entitled “Know Your Rights,” Roth and Friedman explain that as persons we have the right to:

  • Feel safe in a relationship
  • Be treated respectfully
  • Not be abused verbally/emotionally
  • Be heard
  • Be appreciated and valued
  • Have our privacy and boundaries respected

Below are some ways that bullies run roughshod over people:


“Here’s how I do things.” Cognitive flexibility considers multiple avenues for improvement, allowing us to incorporate the best practices of each into our finished product. People espousing a pretentious “hey look at me” attitude arrogantly parade their latest achievements: “here’s how I do things … ” (hint, hint). If this person complains after you implement their suggestions, you are left in a no win situation. In their book Snakes, Weasels, and Jerks, Namie and Namie suggest that bullies test the waters to see where they stand. Not responding to this initial inquiry sends them a green light, and makes it more difficult to establish future limits.

“Colonization.” This type of boundary interference can stem from a love obsessional stalker who assumes you are property – or, from a parent who suffers from antisocial personality disorder (and who thus believes you are an appendage). Colonizers have planted their flag and declared eminent domain. Attempts from you to declare otherwise are met with aggression.

Contradiction. Some people keep their mouths shut because they’re met with invalidation. In other words, what you say doesn’t matter because the bully knows best. Assenting because others have made the stakes high makes you a silenced party. Shouting, losing one’s temper, and becoming hostile are all ways to remain sole survivor.

Selective perception. Boundary violators have a way of not hearing you. Even if they seem in agreement, they’ll keep on keeping on because they’ve made the challenge costs so high. These people assume instead of ask. They flout your intentions because they’ve determined: (1) yours are invalid; (2) theirs are correct; or (3) you have no say in the matter. They may become violent if you attempt reassertion.

Each of us has preferences that we want respected, and ways of doing things we wish others to honor. Making inappropriate demands will only work to alienate your peers.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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