Being a target at work, school or in a dating relationship is very painful. It can take a surprisingly long time to recover. It is also difficult to see the experience coming, as controlling people are extra charming early in a relationship.
It is possible to benefit from the perfect hindsight of those who have experienced bullying. There are behavioral red flags which suggest a person may be prone to bullying or controlling others. Most people try to avoid judgment, so overlook these signs when they should watch more closely.
Any evidence of a lack of empathy from a date, a potential employer, or new friend or acquaintance is cause for concern. This might show itself as an inappropriate response such as smiling at another’s misfortune, failing to laugh at a joke or failure to respond in a conversation.
Reactions which seem Inappropriate to the conversation should raise red flags, too. Anger is out of place in a job interview or when meeting socially for the first time. Critical, judgmental or irritated comments are never good signs, but especially not in a first meeting. A feeling of confusion, dread, panic, disempowerment or embarrassment with an acquaintance suggests something is amiss in the interaction and is cause to watch a person closely.
There are situations such as a job interview, when there is not much time to watch for a pattern of behavior to develop. In this case, ask questions which elicit concern for others. For example, ask the interviewer how the staff felt about a decision or how the previous employee felt about the workload. Ask a date how he gets along with his mother or his ex.
Ask around about a potential boss, date or teacher. A lot of people will unjustly criticize the behavior or others, but listen closely for evidence that a person is narcissistic, mean or lacks empathy. It may be possible to avoid relationships or minimize interactions with dangerous people.
Ruth Wilson supports A Beautiful Me in fostering self-worth in all women, and urges women to participate in in A Beautiful Me workshops. Ruth writes to encourage women and girls in the right use of power, in a world that is disempowering and coaches them to take back power from controlling people. Ruth works for the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, which develops girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.