Adult Bullying: What to look out for.

Published 09/03/2013 by inspiringyourspirit


You may not hear a lot about adult bullying, but it is a problem. Read this article to learn more about different types of adult bullies and get some ideas on how to deal with an adult bully. Adult bullying is a serious problem and may require legal action.

One would think that as people mature and progress through life, that they would stop behaviors of their youth. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sadly, adults can be bullies, just as children and teenagers can be bullies. While adults are more likely to use verbal bullying as opposed to physical bullying, the fact of the matter is that adult bullying exists. The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. They try to humiliate victims, and “show them who is boss.”

There are several different types of adult bullies, and it helps to know how they operate:

Narcissistic Adult Bully: This type of adult bully is self-centered and does not share empathy with others. Additionally, there is little anxiety about consequences. He or she seems to feel good about him or herself, but in reality has a brittle narcissism that requires putting others down.
Impulsive Adult Bully: Adult bullies in this category are more spontaneous and plan their bullying out less. Even if consequences are likely, this adult bully has a hard time restraining his or her behavior. In some cases, this type of bullying may be unintentional, resulting in periods of stress, or when the bully is actually upset or concerned about something unconnected with the victim.
Physical Bully: While adult bullying rarely turns to physical confrontation, there are, nonetheless, bullies that use physicality. In some cases, the adult bully may not actually physically harm the victim, but may use the threat of harm, or physical domination through looming. Additionally, a physical bully may damage or steal a victim’s property, rather than physically confronting the victim.
Verbal Adult Bully: Words can be quite damaging. Adult bullies who use this type of tactic may start rumors about the victim, or use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate another person. This subtle type of bullying also has the advantage – to the bully – of being difficult to document. However, the emotional and psychological impacts of verbal bullying can be felt quite keenly and can result in reduced job performance and even depression.
Secondary Adult Bully: This is someone who does not initiate the bullying, but joins in so that he or she does not actually become a victim down the road. Secondary bullies may feel bad about what they are doing, but are more concerned about protecting themselves.
Workplace bullying can make life quite miserable and difficult. Supervisors should be made aware of adult bullies, since they can disrupt productivity, create a hostile work environment (opening the company to the risk of a law suit) and reduce morale.

It is important to note, though, that there is little you can do about an adult bully, other than ignore and try to avoid, after reporting the abuse to a supervisor. This is because adult bullies are often in a set pattern. They are not interested in working things out and they are not interested in compromise. Rather, adult bullies are more interested in power and domination. They want to feel as though they are important and preferred, and they accomplish this by bringing others down. There is very little you can do to change an adult bully, beyond working within the confines of laws and company regulations that are set up. The good news is that, if you can document the bullying, there are legal and civil remedies for harassment, abuse and other forms of bullying. But you have to be able to document the case.

Adult bullies were often either bullies as children, or bullied as children. Understanding this about them may be able to help you cope with the behavior. But there is little you can do about it beyond doing your best to ignore the bully, report his or her behavior to the proper authorities, and document the instances of bullying so that you can take legal action down the road if necessary.

A Simple Story:

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it.  Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was.



She then told them to tell it (The Piece of Paper) they’re sorry.

Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they had left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it.

That is what happens when people bully and hurt others, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. 

The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.


Namaste with Love





14 comments on “Adult Bullying: What to look out for.

  • I learned the hard way that even “sweet little old ladies” can form bullying gangs. I lived in a complex for low-income seniors a few years ago, and one night when I started up the stairs to my apartment, one of the elderly women stopped me on the stairs and said she would let me continue to my apartment if I agreed to join her and others in harassing another tenant. The other tenant had a psychiatric diagnosis and was a satisfying target for the bullies because she would get upset and cry when bullied. I told the woman who stopped me that I wasn’t about to spend the last part of my life tormenting somebody and that she and her friends must be real losers to be doing that. The woman let me go to my apartment, but she and her pals continued to do the bullying. I told the manager what had happened, but the manager was afraid of the “gang,” and she did nothing. After that incident, I expanded my concept of bullies and gangs to include the possibility of senior gangs. Believe me, there was nothing sweet about those little old ladies!

    • Hello and welcome Jean, thank you for your comment, it is so appreciated 🙂 In short, bullying has no place in our society, the young, middle aged and old of our society all deserve to have lives free from the trauma caused by such selfishness. We need to educate and re educate continuously and step up against such things. Bullying in the young leads to violence and petty crime in the teens, then leads to serious assault and often rape and murder in later years, this continues on to old age because the need for control leads to such aggression and abuse. Im so sorry you have had to deal with this in your life time Jean, and I hope you can be free and enjoy your life; as we all should, In peace, and free from harm 🙂
      Namaste with Love

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