Bullying affects 20% of high school students and 25% of middle school students (stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). It’s a serious problem, especially with the advent of cyberbullying, and like many immigrants, when we came to the United States we fell victim to a lot of it. Please see resources below if this is something that affects you or your family.
In this week’s episode, however, we wanted to highlight how getting bullied made us stronger in business. Most of us face some kind of adversity, and our ability to learn to overcome difficult situations, events, and people help us navigate life’s unpredictable nature. In business, these skills and strengths can pay huge dividends.
In this episode we discuss five main lessons that we learned from being bullied at a young age. Learning to trust others, but verifying their intentions, developing a thick skin, developing an ability to push for what you want, working with difficult personalities, and learning how do diffuse situations. We also try to provide specific stories wherever we can.
Here are some resources for those affected by bullying:
0:58 Today we are talking about why being bullied after coming to the USA served us well in our lives, even though back then it was pretty terrible.
1:44 The beginning of our story — coming to the new country and getting bullied.
2:53 Being different as an easy target for bullying.
4:02 First lesson: being bullied helped us develop a thick skin. Anytime you have to deal with negative situations or adversity, you only become stronger — not only in business, but in life. We had to learn how to be busy and how to be okay with being alone.
06:09 An early discovery: we don’t seek fights, but we would not back down from defending ourselves.
Second lesson learned: you can’t always rely on people, even those who are in the position of authority and could ultimately help to resolve a conflict.
07:49 A lot of people don’t share the burden of being bullied with anybody else because they are afraid of repercussions.
Third lesson learned: there is no reason to be afraid because the other side doesn’t want to get in trouble either.
Learning to voice grievances to people in the position of power served us well later in business as we are never afraid to go straight to the top to resolve issues.
08:49 Forth lesson learned: you should trust people but always verify; don’t trust people blindly. Trust but verify also translates well to contracts: always ask questions, especially if you are entering a business agreement.
11:12 Asking for changes in agreements to be made is possible as long as you argue and back it up with common sense: you need to be able to protect yourself.
11:33 Being bullied also developed a fighter mentality in us: we grew up having a strong sense of justice and self-preservation. Having seen each other in pain with no help, needing to solve an injustice is something that we feel to this day.
15:00 For any children out there: try to avoid physical fights. Self-defense, though, is totally different: defend yourself if you are attacked.
Fifth lesson learned: if someone tries to wrong you, you fight back.
Don’t forget that there are people who can help you. Do share your experience and don’t go through this alone.
16:17 Bullying also helped us work and deal with strong personalities. Especially in business, where you encounter alpha-people all the time. So how to have your voice heard?
Sixth lesson learned: the best thing you can do when dealing with strong personalities is acknowledge them and then defuse any situation by getting them on your side.
17:02 Vadim’s story on how he was able to defuse a situation with an emotionally abusive boss in his professional life.
Seventh and eighth lessons learned: if your work environment is abusive and you are in the position where you can leave, do so. If you can walk away from a heated conversation and count to ten first, do so as well.
22:18 A story on what role people’s perception of you plays in being bullied and how it can help in navigating a job market.
Ninth lesson learned: having moved from one area to a more prestigious one and shifted within America’s class systems, we noticed a different treatment from our peers. That taught us that perception does matter; unfortunately, people’s views inform their actions.
27:24 Sometimes it might be helpful to adjust your image. It does not mean changing your personality, but you may want to have a suit and professionally appropriate social media accounts when applying for a job.
28:22 A story of Larry Petretti, a successful businessman who started as a construction worker. The first thing he did when moving to the administrative side? Stopped swearing and suited up!
Listen to the story of Larry Petretti here: https://thementors.co/podcast/building-90-million-dollar-business-after-50-larry-petretti
29:18 Tenth lesson: if you are young and being bullied — it is unfortunate but it is not forever. But even as an adult you will face adversity because of the million reasons; try to use it to your advantage because it makes you stronger. You might not feel like that at the moment but it does. Have these lessons translated into how you handle difficult situations and, ultimately, succeed.