At one point or another, everyone has felt that they were being pushed around. Bullies are in many places and take many forms—such as corrupt government officials in positions of political power or callous business leaders holding C-level titles in corporations. But for many of us, our first encounter with a bully is not typically so large. We probably first encountered a bully in our local schoolyard.
How can you deal with a bully like a peacemaker, instead of like a gangster? That’s what this blog is all about. From standing up to bullies in the playground when we’re still children, to fostering effective dialogue between countries with nuclear weapons when we’re adults, dealing with bullies is a life-long process that helps us learn invaluable life skills for even the most mundane of everyday tasks. Tasks like going shopping at the supermarket.
Just the other day, I stepped into a small neighborhood supermarket. I was walking into the Produce aisle when I saw three packages of celery on the floor in front of me. I began to pick them up one by one, putting them back on the shelf piled adjacent to the carrots.
As I was doing that, three packages of carrots fell to the floor.
All of a sudden I hear a woman screaming from behind me. “Pick up those packages, I saw you just now drop them!”
I turned around. She repeated herself, pointing her accusing finger at me. She continued screaming even louder. “How dare you not pick them up‽” I decided to continue walking straight ahead and disengage, but I could hear her continuing to scream at my back. “I’m sure you are that messy and careless at home!”
None of the supermarket employees came to the scene.
After I finished my shopping and before heading to the register, I went back to the Produce aisle and picked up the carrot bags. A guy standing nearby noticed, smiled and asked, “Do you work here?” I briefly shared the earlier encounter. He shared an experience he had on the register line counting his change, which also yielded an angry bully reacting toward him.
This experience gave me the opportunity to exercise my muscles and practice “How to deal with a bully without turning into a thug,” as Scilla Elworthy put it.