When verbal abusers screen for next victim

A verbal abuser have a nagging urge to find a victim to abuse.  This is why when one victim is no longer taking the verbal abuse, because they refuse to do so any more, they moved, or they have grown, the abuser has to find another victim.  So they start screening.  What do they look for?

I am not a psychiatrist, but I think what they need is a profile that triggers the abusive behavior.  They need to spot weakness that they can “pick” on.  Here are a couple of scenarios that I have seen from real life, and they are worth paying attention to, as they are unfortunately common but some people do not notice them.

A verbal abuser first starts experimenting with a potential victim, to see how much verbal abuse they are willing to take.  This is why sometimes we need to be less tolerant rather than more tolerant, especially when it comes to taking negative messages from others.  

Here is an example of everyday verbal abuse situations that most of us tolerate, and abusers con us with: “Can I tell you something and without you getting hurt by it?” they expect you to say “sure.”  You have just given them a Cart Blanche to abuse you. Instead of saying “sure,” you might want to consider saying “thanks, but no thanks.”  If the abuser thinks the statement is hurtful, probably it is.  If you let them, they can say anything they want and they usually get away with it.  If you get angry they say “I told you that you might get angry.” If you do not, then they know they threw their poison on you, which strangely enough gives them some kind of temporary relief of their own poor self image.Not everybody who uses this statement is an abuser, but still one has to be careful of consistent use to hurt others.

This happens also in business.  There are so many forms of it in business, but here is a common example.  Some, to show respect for the boss at work, they belittle themselves with body gestures or things they say about themselves.  So, they put their shoulders down, in a very appeasing body posture and start their conversations with the boss or client with long apologetic remarks: “I am so sorry to bother you with my silly issues but if you kind find out of kindness a minute for me?”  I mean such “spineless,” so to speak, statements and behavior tell the boss “I am an easy prey to become a doormat for your abusive behavior.  Low self esteem here…feel free to abuse.”  There is a big difference between being respectful and being submissive.  It shows from the way one carries self.  

Do not misinterpret my words as encouraging cruelness or to be against kindness and sensitivity.  To the contrary, I think the strongest personalities out there are the kind ones, and the sensitive ones are the creative ones, given they have a good self image.  

A kind person with a good self image might be mistaken for a good victim for abuse.  But abusers find and usually quickly that they better stay away.  They benefit from low tolerance to intentional negativity, and they steer away from it, confront it.  Remember there is room for finesse, strategy, and tactical maneuvers in all of this.

Even if self image is shaken a bit, one does not have to succumb to verbal abuse.  There are things that you can do to stop it.  Here are a couple of YouTube videos that I have done previously on the subject.  How to Deal with Difficult People and How to Deal with Cunning Deceitful Manipulators.

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Approving of self, our faulty self image, and emotional vampires

One of the toughest challenges for anyone is to not take things personally.  It is so difficult.  Of course It is easy to claim: “I never take things personally; whatever people say or do it does not affect me personally,”  but that would be a lie.

Everyone, to different degrees, take work and what others do personally.  The more passionate one is about the work at hand and about the people involved, the more vulnerable one to signs of disapproval or lack of grattitude.  “I am trying so hard because I really care about them getting the best possible service and this is what I get in return?”  This is usually followed by feelings of sorrow, disgust, and anger.  Then comes the self pitty:”This is what you get for staying here and putting up with this.  I should have left to a place where Iget some appreciation.” More pain and agony.  This goes on and on in the head in what I like to call the”self pitty party.”

Another wrinkle to this is that sometimes we beat ourselves on the head for taking things so personally.  Then we get even more frustrated and emotional. Here is an example of a line that goes through my head when I take things personally: “Come on Ammar; you of all people.  You teach others to be objective, professional, and deal with things in a cool manner, then you get frustrated over something so silly? shame on you…” Then I remember how people usually commend me on my subtle and poised demeanor in dealing with work or personal related issues.  Then I get angy over being angry.  It is so funny when I write about it, but to feel it is a totally different matter.

I think people should not take things personally ever.  However, that is impossible.  Otherwise one would not be human.  I think what causes all this anguish is the lack of self approval, which is the self portrait that defines in one’s eyes: “who I am.”  That portrait can change and vary depending on the mood.  For examnple, when “I” approve of who “I am”; the imperfect, erring, yet beautiful creation of God, “I am” in peace with self and accept self as is.  Then, nothing anyone does or say is taken personally at all.  However, this state of mind does not last, under the pressures of the day.  As this state of mind shifts, one gets prone to disapprove of self, or parts of self (because I want me better, stronger, richer, more perfect, etc.) In that state of mind, it is easy to disapprove of self and hence take things personally.

Some see in the disapproval of self a way to encourage self to be better.  I think that would be fooling ourselves.  Nothing good can come from beating ourselves on the head.  We need to bravely accept who we are first, then improve on self, not out of disgust and disapproval of who we are, but out of love, compassion, and forgiveness of our imperfection.

Here is a word of caution: Emotional vampires out there can sense your area of weakness and attack you from that specific area.  Here is a funny but sad story.  A friend of mine had a theory that many of us were raised to take orders from our teachers and elderly in a demeaning fasion:”pick up that book,” or “go to sleep,” or “stop whining,” etc.  So, he believes that giving orders to others in the same tone of voice as their abusive teachers or parents will result in the person doing the command you give him without thinking about it, having the same feelings of intimidation he had as a child when these commands were given to him.  He showed me examples where he did that and it worked.  He of course does not do it with anyone.  He selects the “right” person to do this with.  I do not approve of what he did, and it was very sad to see his demonstration and it seemed totally inhumane.  However, in real life many do this and they will take advantage of your weakness to manipulate you.

Our negative self portrait, highlighting parts of ourselves that we disapprove, are never accurate.  Usually they are far from the truth.  So where do these negative ideas about who we are come from?  I do not know but one thing I did notice: Most things that you disapprove of yourself are things someone in the past disapproved of you. Like a father who always told you that you are lazy, or an uncle who always teased you about being thin, etc.

Another way we build our disapproval of self is from disapproval of others from our past.  For example, if a relative was too harsh on his kids and that affected you when you were a child, part of you might say “I will never be like that person” then you will be very careful not to be harsh on your kids, and maybe too critical or disapproving of yourself for the slightest harshness in dealing with your own children.

Our mind plays tricks and games on us where we are oblivious to our worst weaknesses while we convince ourselves that we have problems in our personality that we do not even have.  Many people who say “I am too tough,” when they are very lenient.  Others say “I am fat” when they are really very thin.  All are games our minds play on us.  When we tell ourselves that we are a certain way, we need to remember that most probably that perception is false.  It is a figment of our imagination.   We are who we are, and the best that we can do is accept, then improvement can come to us as human beings.

Vin-Dic-Tive

I wrote it the way it sounds to me.  Choppy and aggressive like the people who are stuck with it.  Some people are vindictive chronically and they cannot help but be that way.  Some people are vindictive occasionally.  Some play are vindictive to make gains in negotiations.  Regardless of the reason, if  you are vindictive,  Please stop it.  It does not work.  If you are pretending, it is easy to stop, but if you are like that, you probably do not know that you are.  So, I will help you in this article identify vindictive behavior whether you are the sender or the receiver of it.

Vindictive in Merriam Webster online is defined as “vengeful, who tries to cause hurt or anguish.”  But there is more.  I felt the definition does not do the word justice and can easily cause it to be confused with other behaviors.  So I went into to the online thesaurus to find its antonym (opposite).  The antonym for vindictive is “Forgiving”.  I think between the definition and the antonym it is easy to understand the meaning of the word.

To remove any ambiguity, I would like to use an example I went through yesterday.  I will use words of a relative of mine, bless his heart.  This person has good intent and wants what is better for me, but he was very vindictive.  Here is where it gets complicated.  I do not think he is vindictive because he wants what is good for me.  He is vindictive because it is his nature, the poor guy.  So, something inside makes him want to be vindictive.  And so, he will dish out his vindictiveness whenever he gets a chance; when he loves someone he is vindictive:”You know I love you and I want what is best for you, this is why I might say things that make you angry.  But really, how come you are not a multi millionnaire yet? after years of working hard, and still you do not have anything to show for it?  Someone like you would have been a tycoon by now.” See? vindictive big time.  He loves you and he uses this loving opportunity to be vindictive and satisfy himself.  Ahh the beauty of the complex human psyche.  I just love it (I dont love vindictive, but I love the design of the psyche).  So everything gets twisted to help the vindictive be vindictive.  Let us give another example.  Someone made a minor mistake in the car in front of him: “Idiot.  Does not know how to drive.  The country is full of idiots driving.  How do they give them license?  This country is full of worthless bums.  Animals.”  Sorry for the harsh words but I wanted to choose excerpts from actual lines I have heard during vindictive behavior.  I bet you heard these lines too.  This does not mean that whoever uses them is vindictive.  It means that at that moment his behavior is that of a vindictive.  Now if he is like that all the time, he is a vindictive fella.  If this happens once in a blue moon, is one thing.  But if this is a pattern of behavior then this is definitely a vinedictive person.

I cannot but draw attention to a related personality disorder when talking about vindictiveness.  Which is narcissism.  Usually vindictive behavior can be seen from narcissists.  I do not have scientific proof, but this is from my observation.

Vindictiveness can be very disguised.  Even harsh blame is vindictiveness.  “Didnt I tell you to do this properly? when will you learn to do better? Why are you like that all the time?”  See? very easy to fall into vindictiveness mode.  Sometimes, it is not even words.  It is a look that you give your child or a sigh of disapproval, or a smurk on your face.  All vindictive.

How not to be vindictive? the antonym I mentioned above gives it away easily: Be a forgiving person.  Be a loving person.  Be tolerant.  This does not mean you let people walk all over you.  And it does not mean that you do not ask people to stop when they bother you, or prevent people from hurting you.  It means that you do not do it with vindictiveness.

Aikido is an antonym to vindictiveness, in my opinion.  Aikido is a japanese martial art.  It only starts with defensive moves.  Meaning, if the person in front of you does not initiate attack, you cannot use it.  So it starts by disarming the person in front of you, then applying some pain just to show him that his aggressiveness has consequences.  But you do it in the utmost respect to the humanity of your opponent.  I believe Aikido summarizes how we need to behave and react without vindictiveness.

If you are surrounded by vindictive people, try to stay away from them and not pay attention too much to what they say.  They can hurt you.  Remember they usually make wrong assumptions and give false proofs to prove to you that you deserve to be hurt.  For example:”Look at Ahmed.  He sold a land for hundred percent profit in a year.  So, why can’t you be like him?” The vindictive person is making the assumption that everyone is making money by the millions except you.  False assumption.  If you fall for it you start hurting “Oh yeah.  He is right! how come I am not like Ahmed.” Please.  Spare yourself andthe people around you the drama.  You are beautiful the way you are and have excellent strengths.  Let us start with that and improve upon it.  Remember? Love and forgiveness? Start with loving and forgiving self and do not pay attention to the Vin-Dic-Tives.

“Difficult” is in the eye of the beholder!

Difficult people are out there, and we are part of them.  People are difficult the most when we do not understand them; their background, needs, motives, and behaviour.  Once we are clear on what makes a difficult person, they become much less difficult.  This does not make us necessarily accept them, but it helps us deal with them in a way that helps us maintain our sanity and mental health.

Part of working as a consultant is to deal with many people, including customers, employees of customers, your team, your company owner, and everybody else.  This makes it a must to dedicate time to understand people.  After more than twenty years of consulting I cannot say that I understand it all now when it comes to dealing with people.  However, I have been seeking learning in this area all through my career.  The more I learn the more I am amazed and intrigued by the richness of the human experience.  There is so much more to learn and more great discoveries to be made about ourselves, others, and the intricate and mystical relationship between us and the whole universe.

Come along with me on this journey of discovery on how to deal with difficult people and help me learn more.

How to deal with a boss who thinks she is too smart for you!

If you have to deal with a boss who thinks she is too smart for you, at least it would be good to know their weakness to use it to protect yourself.

Some manipulators think they are smarter than everybody and they can fool all with their ploys.  It is true many will be fooled but many also will not.  The boss thinks no one is up to his ploys, and those who hate him hate him because he is a great guy and they are jealous.

I know this sounds pitiful but if you know a manipulator you know what I mean exactly.

So how can you use this against them? let them think they got you fooled.  that does not mean that you let them hurt you, but pretend that you do not see their tricks and that they fooled you.  they put down their guard and now you can protect yourself by playing innocent and oblivious.

Here is an example.  Let us say that she repeatedly is trying to have you work on the weekends and do some of her work for her, by saying that it is so easy and won’t take you a minute.  She might even make you feel guilty thats he is loaded with work and she needs this for her boss so importantly and she will be in trouble if you do not help her.  You know better.  Because you know all she is trying to do is to get you to do her work for her and you know her overworking you is the norm not the exception.

So, what you need to do is to show her empathy.  Feel with her.  Tell her you appreciate what she is going through, but give her a reason why you cannot help and it has to be true.  Do not lie, but be clear that you have something important to attend to.  For example, you are having neck pains which requires rest over the weekend.  (If you do not have neck pains, then do not lie, and pick something else.) Tell her you promised your kids to take them somewhere this weekend and you do not want to weasel out of it because they will be angry with you.

Here is another tip for you.  choose an excuse that she herself would use.  For example, if her kids are on her case for staying at work too long, use something related to that.  If she has a back ache or a neck ache that prevents her from working, use that.  Again, do not lie, but try to use something that she can relate to.  And believe me the only thing they can relate to is somthing they are going through.  They cannot relate to something from your perspective.  It has to be from their perspective.

Since she thinks you are sincere and that you did not catch her plot, and she feels that she herself can relate to the excuse, you will get off the hook without her using too much vengeance or guilt trips on you.

Try it and enjoy it 🙂

Games Abusers Play on You – Part 1

When bullies and abusers feel they are exposed and their con is clear to you, they might react in one of two ways: The first is to get angry and get back at you for exposing them.  The second is to lay it on thicker and bring out the nice guy personality where they shower you with kindness and gentleness.  They use the second technique to confuse you and to make you feel guilty that you even doubted them.

I want to talk about the second behavior because it is very dangerous.  When you see kindness from the bully you start blaming yourself for doubting him and think that you were unfair of thinking of him so badly.  This is exactly his intent.  He is manipulating you .  To prove it, wait until you accept his nice behavior and accept him again, and see how he goes back to his same old cunning deceiptful manipulation.

This is why relationships with abusers and bullies usually go through cycles of ups and downs.  He abuses you until you are fed up.  When he feels you are about to leave and just had enough, he switches to kindness and gentleness and pampers you to the extreme.  Then you soften and go back to square one of abuse.

You can avoid this vicious cycle and its effect on your emotions and health by following a couple of tips I tried.

Instead of letting him control the cycle, you control it.  Meaning, get to the point where he has to be extra nice, don’t accept it completely by becoming nice again to him, but accept it to the point where you accept his nice behavior without getting too nice to him.  Now, when he feels he is ready to switch back to old self, don’t wait until you cannot take it anymore.  Reduce your tolerance a bit and make him feel that the red lines you drew in the relationship got tighter a little bit.  For example, if he is used to ridiculing you before subliminally, and you do not do anything about it until he starts doing it explicitly, the next cycle, draw the line at any subliminal demaning behavior.  Ask him why is he doing that, then ask him to stop.  Don’t give him a chance to make you feel guilty , or come up with excuses.  Walk out of the situation as if you are fed up.  Next time you see him he will try to talk about it to convince you that you acted unreasonably and that he was not putting you down, refuse to discuss it and tell him that this is making you feel uncomfortable and that you are not willing to talk about it.  he will get mad, but he will know that this is a red line and he cannot cross it.

This way the area that bothers you and you do not tolerate will get smaller and the abuse will subside a bit by bit.  He will probably  try to find another person to abuse since you are not taking it anymore.

Don’t think that you can fix him let us not get over board.  They will never see themselves as doing something wrong or that they need fixing.  They just move from one abuse-ready person to another.  At least shield yourself and hopefully others should be able to fend for themselves.

Let me know if you are familiar with this behavior and let me know if my technique works.

How to deal with Cunning Deceiptful Manipulators

This video from youtube talks specifically about the CDM personality.  It talks about how to spot them, why they are the way they are, and practical tips on how to deal with them.  Please take a look and give me your feedback if you tried any of them.  here is the link How to Deal with Cunning Deceiptful Manipulators.