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How to Stop People From Picking on You

by Elise Wile

In the romance novel "Love Exactly," author Cassandra Giovanni writes, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words ... they'll destroy my soul." No one should have to cope with the destructive words of a bully. If being picked on is bringing you down, there are several approaches you can take to curb the hurtful words and behaviors. While you can't control another person's behavior, your own responses can have quite an impact.

Avoid Bullies

The easiest way to stop being picked on is to avoid the people who are doing it, notes psychology professor Ronald Riggio, Ph.D. in "Psychology Today." While this isn't always possible, in some cases it is, although it may not be easy. It may require quitting your job to leave a hostile work environment or choosing not to associate with members of your extended family who treat you disrespectfully. Life is too short to spend it with people with bullying behaviors, says Riggio, as the stress can have a negative impact on your health.

Control Your Emotions

Bullies usually enjoy provoking an emotional response from their victims, notes Riggio. Avoid giving a bully the response she seeks and you'll provide less incentive for her to harass you the next time you encounter her. Even if she has just made a joke about people from your ethnic background, keep your cool. Simply looking at the person, slightly shaking your head and going on with your day sends a powerful message -- that the person's immature remarks aren't worthy of your time or energy.

Be Assertive

Calling bullies out on their behavior can sometimes be effective. Don't get into an argument with the person who is picking on you; simply say something like "Your remark about my weight was not OK." Then look at the person. This approach is appropriate both in private and during group encounters, notes human resources coach Gail Tolstoi-Miller on ConsultNetworx.com. The awkwardness created by such an exchange may deter future instances of inappropriate behaviors and remarks. When you confront someone, do so confidently. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and look the person directly in the eye when you talk to him, speaking in normal voice tones.

Seek Professional Help

It can be difficult to see yourself as others see you. It is possible that you are being picked on because your body language is sending a message of weakness or because of another reason that may be hard to discern on your own. If you continue to have problems with bullies in your life, schedule a few appointments with a counselor or life coach who can help you project an assertive, confident image.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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