Bullies. We dealt with them as kids. It was the mean kid on the playground. The kid who called you names on the bus. It was the kid that talked about you at lunch or threatened you in the hallway. We all dealt with them in some form or fashion. Bullies are all the same, they want what they want, and they will run over anyone to get it. In my experience, they are also cowards that put on a brave (mean) face.

I guess I always thought that only kids deal with bullies. It never occurred to me that those people that were bullies as kids might grow up to become bullies as adults as well. Unfortunately, it seems that this type of person will likely always be in our lives in some form or fashion.

What is interesting about adult bullies is that they are much more subtle than their former versions. An adult bully isn’t going to push you into the copier as you walk by or invite you out back for a fight. Instead, they will push your buttons in other ways, in subtle ways, and sometimes they are so subtle that you might not even realize you are dealing with a bully at the moment.

Here are five ways to recognize an adult bully for who they are.

  1. They get angry when things don’t go their way or people don’t act exactly how they want. This is a classic one. From the playground to the boardroom, if a bully doesn’t get their way they freak.
  2. They accuse immediately without understanding or empathy. When you do something they don’t like, you are at fault, no matter what. And, not only are you at fault, but you are also a terrible, evil person in their eyes.
  3. They rally people against you. I realize this sounds childish, but I have seen it happen. A bully gets upset and rather than dealing with the other person like a grown-up they just stir up opposition against that person.
  4. They are never wrong, about anything, in any way. A bully will have conflict after conflict and will always see the other person as 100% at fault.
  5. They cloak their bullying in niceties or backhanded comments. Bullies will say things like, “you are doing a much better job than I EVER expected.” Or they might write you an email tearing you apart with accusations only to finish the email with “I really hope for the best for you, I’m sure it will all work out.”

Bullies don’t go away when we grow up, they just get smarter and fly under the radar. They also go by another name in grown-up-world. Most of us also refer to them as a$$holes. I find it’s best to avoid them. The fewer bullies in my life, the better.