“My colleagues try to dominate me and make fun of me. And if I try to answer them they just laugh at me. I don’t know how to reply.”
“I got 3 roommates and I’m the butt of every damn joke. They’re all witty and I can’t seem to think of anything quickly and when I look at them I can’t think of a rebuttal. They make inside jokes, jokes that only work on me and they keep it on cycle every day and make new ones all the time.”
If you can relate to these quotes from our readers, this guide is for you.
There’s a difference between two friends joking and someone making fun of you or trying to dominate you. If you’re looking to get more respect in general, you should read my guide 18 tricks that make people respect you.
Here’s how to deal with someone who makes fun of you.
1. Don’t play it the way the bully wants to
- Bully: “So what movies do you like, you know, except for dirty movies? Hahahaha”
- You: “Haha, yeah right!” or “Shut up!” or “Haha, no I don’t!”
- Bully: “I knew it! HAHAHA”
Do you see the problem with these kinds of replies? They all make it seem like the bully said something funny, even if it wasn’t. It’s also the exact type of reply they expect, which makes it more fun for them (but not for you).
So if you reply in this manner when you feel uncomfortable, you’re giving them exactly what they’re looking for.
Everyone around you will most likely chime in with the laughter. And it’s not because they don’t care about your feelings, they just don’t realize how bad you feel. And since the “funny one” got the response they were looking for, they’re more likely to do it again in the future.
But we don’t want to give them what they want.
2. Turn the joke on them
This is my favorite trick to deal with annoying people or people who feel like they need to be dominant. It’s effective and easy to use for beginners just starting to find their voice against the “funny guy/girl”.
Here’s the trick: Agree TOO MUCH with their stupid question or statement with a poker face.
Don’t laugh with them, don’t smile, just give them your answer with a straight face.
The reason this works is that your response will be the opposite of what they expect. They will either be at a loss for words or they will look like a complete idiot if they try to push the joke further.
When you respond this way, your irony will be obvious. Everyone will see your disapproval and will realize that what the “funny one” said wasn’t funny at all. And then it ends awkwardly for the bully because they will be the only one laughing.
Here’s an example of how you get the upper hand on the “funny guy/girl” by agreeing TOO MUCH:
- Funny one: “So what movies do you like, you know, except for dirty movies? Hahahaha”
- You: “Oh, you didn’t know? I only watch dirty movies.”
- Funny one: “… well then.”
Again, avoid laughing or smiling while responding with something like that.
After that, you change the topic and continue talking as if nothing happened. If possible, ignore the “funny one” and any further attempts they make at the same kind of joke. Focus on someone else in the group and change the subject.
You’re basically treating them like your irritating little brother. This shows that you do not tolerate bad behavior like that and gives you the upper hand.
3. Ignore the bully
The second technique is also very easy to use even if you’re not a witty quick thinker.
You can ignore the bully altogether. When you don’t give them any response, you take away their sense of gratification. That takes them out of the conversation and leaves them with no control over the situation.
Most who try to ignore someone fail because they still give away that they are annoyed.
So how do you actually ignore the bully?
- First off, don’t show any form of reaction. Act as if you never heard their comment at all.
- Then, continue the conversation from where it was before they made their rude comment. This is a cue to both the bully and the other people you’re talking to that you’re not tolerating that kind of behavior.
- It’s important to continue the conversation with someone else after you ignored the bully. Because otherwise, it’s not clear if you disapprove or just don’t know how to reply.
- If you blank out or don’t know how to reply, it’s better to use the previous technique of “agreeing TOO MUCH” with the bully.
To see how well this technique actually works, imagine this scenario, with Cary, a bully, and you:
– Cary: “Who’s joining me at the beach tomorrow? It’s supposed to be a gorgeous sunny day.”
– Bully: “Definitely not John – he’s too pale to be allowed to take his shirt off. He’ll blind you if you don’t have your sunglasses on!”
– And then you can respond like this: “Going to the beach sounds lovely. I’m free after 12 if that works for you?”
Do you see how your response makes the bully seem rude?
Ignoring someone like this makes it clear don’t tolerate their behavior. (And you don’t have to sink to their level or be rude or mean.)
Don’t make the mistake of looking angry at the bully or look annoyed. For this to work, you have to act like you truly didn’t hear what they said.
When you ignore the bully, they might even try harder to fit into the group.
So instead of making insulting jokes, they’re more likely to follow the vibe of the conversation.
If you ignore their comments long enough, there may be a chance that they’ll start playing nice to fit back in.
Another effect might be that the bully resigns from the group.
If you ignore someone long enough, it’s likely they will not even want to be a part of the group.
If we EFFECTIVELY ignore their comments for a long period of time, they’ll stop making comments.
4. Ask them what they mean
Sometimes you want a good comeback to make someone shut up when they make fun of you. This can be quite tricky when you blank out, or like me, come up with your reply first when it’s all over. (Read more about how to never be nervous around people over here.)
Here is a universal comeback phrase (that you can reply with in almost any situation):
– Interesting that you’d say that, how do you mean?
This one is good if you want to confront someone about what they said. It takes all the fun out of it for them when they have to explain themselves. And just like the method of “agreeing too much/ironically”, it doesn’t give them the response they expect.
If you want to be a bit wittier, here’s some inspiration on funny (and mean) comebacks.
5. Memorize comeback phrases and quotes
- Remember when I said you’re smart? I lied.
- If I wanted to kill myself, I’d climb your ego and jump to your IQ.
- You should eat some makeup. That way you’ll at least be pretty on the inside.
- Acting like a dick won’t make yours any bigger.
- It’s amazing how stupid people can be. Thank you for showing that to me.
- You’re about as useful as a raincoat in a desert.
- Your ass must be jealous of the shit coming from your mouth.
- Do you ever think about how your life would be if you grew up in a better family?
- You got all your life left to be a douchebag. Why not take the day off?
- I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings when I called you dumb. I thought you knew.
- You’re cute when you open your mouth. You make funny noises when you try to sound cool.
- You know what? You always make me so happy……when you leave the group.
- Too bad you can’t use makeup on your personality.
- You know, I was pro-life before. Then I met you.
Use these phrases with caution, because in certain situations, they might backfire. When you use them, it’s important that you do it in a joking manner. Doing it jokingly will be just as effective as if you were to do it seriously, but you don’t risk starting a conflict or even a fight.
6. Identify if they are a toxic person
It’s important to know the difference between a real friend who makes a mistake and a fake friend or a bad/toxic person. A real friend is always worth a second shot, but you need to cut the bad ones out of your life.
Here are 6 common signs to help you see your “friend” in a better light. Can you relate to any of those behaviors?
- They do things without your permission and even if you don’t want to
- They try to make you feel guilty
- They lie and say untrue things to get the upper hand
- They are nice one-on-one, but they try to dominate you in groups with other people
- They ignore you and don’t listen to you
- They don’t apologize
I’ve written about 20 ways to tell fake friends from real friends over here.
7. Be frank and specific about what you don’t like
Here’s a more diplomatic route you can take if you value a relationship.
Keep in mind that this sentence works in any type of relationship where you are both motivated to get along.
It’s your responsibility to tell the bully how you feel if you want them to stop. They are at fault, but since they’re usually not aware of how their behavior affects you, you need to make them aware of it.
So when you’re alone with the person that’s causing you trouble, say something along these lines:
“Sometimes you say things that I don’t like.
One example is when you joked about my new sweater. I feel belittled when you make comments like that. It’s probably not what you had in mind, but I want you to know how that made me feel.”
There are a few tips I have that will help you get through to the person:
- Don’t generalize. Don’t say something like “You always try to dominate me”. It would only make the person defensive and they would not understand what they’re doing wrong.
- So instead, give a specific example. Since the person may not realize they’re doing it, it’s best to give them an exact instance of this happening.
- Tell the person how YOU feel opposed to what THEY should do and not do, because no one can argue against the feelings you have, but they can argue what they should do and not do.
- Saying something like “It’s probably not what you had in mind” shows you are trying to fix the situation.
I know that it takes courage to kind of open up to someone who’s causing you harm, but standing up for yourself will be worth it in the long run.
I’ve also written more here about how to get more respect from people around you.
8. Share your experience about being bullied
The trick is to share your experiences with others.
Doing this helps you feel better which will give you a mental edge the next time someone tries something on you.
Telling your friends, family, your therapist, or even sharing it here will show you’re not going through this alone. A trusted therapist can help you come up with good strategies on how to deal with bullies both practically and emotionally.
We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and is much cheaper than going to an actual therapist's office. They are also cheaper than Talkspace for what you get. You can learn more about BetterHelp here.
So the first step for you is this:
Comment below and share your experiences about dominating people or bullies. When you do, you’ll notice how the problem isn’t yours, but the bully’s.