A neighbour I can't seem to get along with is a bully. The problem started, as these things usually do, over something quite trivial. How such a small thing could have grown into an emotional hot-button between two adults still has me shaking my head in disbelief.
Take the Bully by the Horns, by Sam Horn helped me understand that bullies don't respond to the techniques and tools that the other 99.9% of the population respond to so well, tools like the ones we teach at Common Outlook. There are special tactics and techniques needed for dealing with bullies and Take the Bully by the Horns does a great job explaining what will and won't work and why.
The book begins with a quiz to help you determine whether or not you're dealing with a bully. All of us behave badly sometimes; it's the beliefs behind the behaviours that determine who is and who isn't a bully. A bully's beliefs fly in the face of the approach to joint problem solving and negotiations that we support at Common Outlook. A bully isn't looking to develop and expand options or for win-win solutions. A bully only wants to win and won't respond, even to reasonable offers.
When I realized a potential solution to the "neighbour problem" might be at hand, I read the book in one sitting. I re-examined my behaviour, the neighbour's behaviour and my reaction to the various interactions. I learned my hopeful "maybe it will just go away" approach won't work. I learned that using I statements ("I'm sure we can work this out") won't work. I learned the neighbour is a type of bully called a blamer. You can catch a blamer in the act and it still won't be "their" fault. A blamer will respond by laying blame everywhere but with themselves and put you on the defensive.
Using the techniques outlined in the book, I developed an action plan. My body language was going to transmit strength. I would acknowledge the neighbour, say hello, make eye contact and stand tall. I would not try and defend myself. I would challenge the offensive behaviour using You statements: "You can't mean that." "You might want to reconsider that. It doesn't reflect well on you." I would state my position clearly using as few words as possible.
The process outlined in the book was easy to follow and you can focus on those chapters you feel are most relevant to your particular situation. Horn also does a good job reassuring those of us who find these types of confrontations intimidating by providing a chapter on ways to "Screw Up Your Courage."
While my conflict with a neighbour is minor, Horn is also trying to help those dealing with bullies who may be abusive or dangerous. She provides a resource directory which includes books, hotlines to support groups as well as helpful websites including one about her book.
Take the Bully by the Horns is a Common Outlook recommended read. Oh, and things are getting slowly better with the neighbour….
This book review was written by Helen Latimer