Why do people bully & how to deal with them?

Why is it that some people bully others? getting into the psychology of it plus tips on how to deal with bullies, and ideally stop the bulling behaviour.

These reasons apply to both adults and children. However, things do change as we move out of the classroom and into the workplace. Bullying usually becomes less obvious when we reach adulthood. The bullies evolve their bully tactics and become more subtle about it. Physical bullying will become much rarer, and verbal bullying becomes more sneaky in order to avoid detection. For example, talking quietly or gossiping behind your back.

Why do People Bully Others?

Ego boosting

Bullies get a feeling of superiority over their victims. It’s a short term and short sighted way for someone to feel good about themselves, to gratify their ego. Feeling good about one-self or ego boosting is one of the most powerful and common psychological motivators that we as humans have.

People will often knock others down in order to feel good, it’s just that bullies do it in a more direct, focused, and extreme matter. Mentally things have gotten out of balance for them, their need to boost their ego may increase when other areas in their life is lacking.


Bullies are often jealous of their victims in some way. If someone has a happier family life, more money or nicer things they may become the victim of a jealous minded person. This reason is more common in bullying situations with children. However, it could still be a trigger for adult bullies.

Masking insecurities

Bullies may seem strong but really they are just masking their own weaknesses and insecurities. They counter their feelings of being inadequate with appearing strong by trying to knock others down.

Stong people. Quote

Bullied themselves

Most bullies would of been bullied themselves at some point in the past. Some of these past victims will grab an opportunity to become the bully instead of the victim as a way of releasing some frustration, by flipping the script.

They see an opportunity to become the bully as a way of reversing the damage to their self-esteem that was done to them while they were bullied themselves. However, this is very flawed and short sighted thinking, and it will make their lives worse in the long term. These people should be looking to end the circle of bullying not continuing it. This would be the moral thing to do, unfortunately people don’t always take that route.


Bullying maybe simply someone’s way of dealing with higher levels of aggression or stress. Someone may be more aggressive or stressed than usual for various different reasons. Such as problems in the family or personal life, or problems at work.

For some people the only way they know how to deal with their stress, is to take it out on other people. This reason is connected to the defence mechanism displacement.

How to Deal with it?


Firstly, understand why they do it, and don’t take it personally. As mentioned in the above reasons it’s usually their own feelings of being inadequate in some way which causes them to do what they do. Understanding and objectifying certain behaviors is a great way to neutralize the power that a bully may have over you.

Don’t react to them

Bullies like to have control over someone else that they may see as weaker, so they can feel empowered and in control, even superior. One way to disarm them is to not respond to anything that they do, this takes away their power. It subtly says that they are not important to you, and they have no control over how you feel.

Don’t play the victim and you won’t be one.


Take steps to avoid this person as much as possible. Sometimes the best way to deal with negative people is to simply avoid them.

If the problem is at work ask your boss to move you to a difference area. This can work very well as a short term quick fix depending on your situation.

Stand up to them

Most bullies are cowards, and they will only target those that they believe won’t retaliate. Sometimes all you need to do is stand up to them and verbally show your displeasure in their behaviour. Not aggressively, just enough so that they know you are not someone that they can just walk all over.

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