Sue Scheff: 3 Keys to Helping Girls Effectively Address an Emotional Bully

A Way Through - The Female Freindship Experts.
Recently I was introduced to this educational website for parents of daughters. You will find some great tips, advice and information to help you be a better parent to your daughter. Here is one of their recent Blogs on a hot topic - bullying.

How Should a Girl Respond to an Emotional Bully?

Let’s say you’re in a meeting at work and a co-worker rolls her eyes when you offer a suggestion to a problem your team is discussing. You’re tired of her constant non-verbal abuse and you decide to address her. Do you know what you’d say? What tone of voice would you use? What emotion would you portray as you walk up to her? This situation is stressful enough to make even the most socially savvy adult break into a sweat. Can you imagine doing it when you are nine years old? Or 13 years old?

Pay Attention to Words, Tone of Voice, and Emotion

Girls struggle with how to respond when they are on the receiving end of hurtful friendship behaviors. After facilitating hundreds of friendship role plays between girls, I’ve noticed three keys to successfully delivering a message that maintains dignity and diffuses the situation: words, tone of voice, and emotion.
The Right Words

Girls’ tendencies are to immediately focus on the words they’ll say. That’s great, and it can be really helpful to practice saying what they want to say. The best word choices tend to name the hurtful behavior and focus on themselves, offering the other girl a way to back out of future aggression. Let’s revisit the eye-rolling example above… “I’ve noticed when I offer suggestions in our team meetings that you roll your eyes. I’m wondering what’s up between us?”

Tone of Voice

How many ways can you say the word “so?” Try saying it with these tones of voice: sarcasm, fear, curiosity, aggression, confusion. You know the old saying… It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.

This key really should be first, but oftentimes it helps girls to think through what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it. Now, before they open their mouths, they need to understand that they can choose their emotion. This is a concept many adults find difficult to understand, and it is challenging for girls to get it too. Let me say it again… YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR EMOTIONS! No one else can make you mad. Or sad. Or disappointed. You make you mad, sad, or disappointed. By helping our girls learn to manage their emotions and come to discover that our response is our response, we help them to distinguish between what happened, how we feel about it, and what emotion we choose. From that place, a girl chooses her emotion in addition to her words and her tone of voice. Then when she grows up and enters the workplace, she’ll know exactly how to handle that difficult co-worker – with dignity and grace.

© 2009 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

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