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Use Bribery to Beat Bullying! Yes, Bribery!

Renegade's Guide - Blog #9 by James Gavsie

Use Bribery to Beat Bullying! Yes, Bribery!

ATTENTION! ATTENTION! I have an official statement I need to make about bullying!

‘Bullies target shy kids!’

I know what you’re thinking. Who is this mysterious Harvard professor with a PhD in Child Psychology? What kind of Steven Hawking level genius is making this insane proclamation?

As obvious of a statement it may be the solution to overcoming Shyness is not. Bullies in all their forms want easy targets. Shy kids fall under that category.

Why? Well, shy kids tend to not stand up for themselves as much as kids who are more social. Shy kids typically have less friends overall than kids who are not, and a large amount of friends is a proven bully deterrent. When I break down the less severe bullying cases I’ve dealt with in the past, I’ve noticed that shyness was a major factor in at least 40% of my clients, clients being both kids and adults.

Let me ask you this; How shy were you as kid? It was a huge problem for me. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is painfully shy and 10 is excruciatingly/painfully shy I would have registered as a 15.

There were so many reasons to literally shy away from people. I was overweight, not a great athlete, and had ZERO Social Skills. Sure, I had some friends but I remember it being a much less painful experience to hang out by myself. It was a simple equation, zero people around me meant zero chances of any bullying.

The bigger problem, however, was the fact that I wasn’t doing anything to overcome my shyness and fear of potential bullying. My social skills took a very LONG time to develop because I avoided situations where large groups of people gathered like the plague. I got over it, but it took a long time. Today I feel very comfortable walking into rooms where there are a lot of people I don’t know. Without a doubt in my mind, I’ll find someone interesting to talk to. To me large groups of new people represent a goldmine of potential new friends, new connections, and interesting experiences. In other words, I’m now the polar opposite of where I was when I was a kid. Or a teenager. Or a young adult.

So, how did I get over it? How did I overcome my paralyzing shyness? For me, it was because I didn’t have a choice. Moving from Canada to Atlanta, Georgia without knowing anyone literally forced me out of my comfort zone. One of the reasons I LOVE Atlanta is because of Southern Hospitality. I felt the people in Atlanta that I encountered reached out to me which made it much, much easier for me to reach out to them. That not only helped me overcome my shyness but developed a ‘social butterfly effect’. I started to meet people who were interesting, funny, helpful, etc. This meant the more people I met the more likely I would continue to encounter some absolutely amazing individuals. It was fun and exciting to not be shy anymore!

The problem is that that whole process took over twenty years, which doesn’t help those suffering from extreme shyness right now.

So I came up with a short cut. I’ve used this ‘method’ countless times throughout my anti-bullying consultation and it has had amazing results, sometimes eradicating shyness immediately.
Therapists and other child psychology specialists call it ‘Incentivizing’. I call it Bribery! A good friend of mine who is an exceptional child therapist informed me that incentivizing is the better term for what I’m advocating. He’s absolutely right! However, as I’m a Renegade by nature I’m going to stick with the term bribery.

Here’s an example of how I’ve ‘bribed’ shyness away;

A while ago a Father brought his 8 year old son, let’s call him Mark, to see me. He was literally suffering from shyness, where even the thought of going into a new situation, such as recently trying out for a baseball team, would send him into a panic. Mark’s father admitted that Mark was somewhat socially awkward around other kids his age and would often be teased by things he would say. Mark wanted to have more friends but couldn’t come out of his self-imposed shell to meet new people. The bullying he encountered on a daily basis was clearly taking its toll. He was too worried about kids his own age making fun of him, or something he might say. This hit home with me.

Mark felt it was better to just stay at home and play video games because he had online friends he could virtually hang out with who liked him. Here was a situation where bullies targeted Mark because of his shyness. This, in turn, made Mark even more shy and pushed him further away from gaining the much needed social skills he desperately needed.

Mark’s dad, a guy’s guy, kept trying to convince Mark that he would keep getting bullied and pushed around if he didn’t change. He was absolutely right, but Mark wasn’t receptive to it. Mark’s father was beyond frustrated as he was the exact opposite of Mark when he grew up. He was popular, social, and a star athlete. Why couldn’t his son be the same? Mark’s father desperately wanted Mark to go to the next baseball try out which was scheduled for the weekend.

I knew what I had to do.

The first thing I did was ask Mark some questions in order to find out what did he liked to do, what video games did he like to play, etc. Turns out that, like MILLIONS of other kids throughout the world, Mark really liked to play Minecraft. He liked it so much that he wanted to become a moderator of a server, which I think meant he wanted to become the facilitator of the game in some way or form. Becoming a Moderator, however, required money to purchase a ‘server’. I’m not a Minecraft player so I’m not exactly sure what Mark was referring to but it did sound kind of cool. Mark also told me he really looked forward to Saturdays because he could play Minecraft all day!

I asked Mark how badly he wanted to be a moderator, or as he called it, a ‘Mod’. He came out of his shell immediately. He told me he wanted it more than anything. This further annoyed Mark’s father but I gave him a look that combined the messages of ‘Its okay I’ve got this’ and ‘Please, shut up.’ As a former techno nerd, I was communicating to Mark on a geek to geek level, something far beyond most normal people’s comprehension. We talked more about Minecraft and I purposely got Mark more and more excited about how great being a ‘Mod’ would be. Mark was supercharged with excitement and repeatedly expressed how he wished there was a way to get the money he so desperately needed.

‘I’ve got an idea!’ I said. ‘I know how you can make the money you need to be a ‘Mod’ on Minecraft.’

By this point, Mark’s father was fuming. The last thing he wanted was for Mark to be spending more time playing video games! Mark was going insane with visions of Minecraft excitement!

‘Here’s what you’re going to do. When you go to the Baseball try outs you will have to get the names of 10 kids, as well as an interesting fact about each of them. You’ll need 10 full names, and some piece of information about all of them. You’ll have to write them down and present the info to your father. If you do that, your father will give you the money you need.

This stopped Mark in his tracks. He started to process the task I had just given him. The mental and emotional math was going on his head, I could see it; ’10 Names + Baseball – Shyness = Minecraft Mod’. Mark’s father looked at me like I was crazy. I assured him I knew what I was doing… kind of.

Mark looked at me disapprovingly. Then thought about it some more.

‘You’re bribing me.’, Mark said accusingly.

‘I sure am!’ I said, with a huge smile!

We looked at each other for a second and then I asked Mark how badly he really wanted to be a Mod. This was the moment of truth.

Mark thought about the proposition one more time and said, ‘I’ll do it.’

Mark’s father’s jaw dropped.

I took some time with Mark to discuss how he could approach people he didn’t know, what he could say, etc. The great thing was that his motivation for the bribe eradicated a great deal of his shyness because he wasn’t focused on being teased or rejected by his peers. In other words, he was focused on the bribe itself. Mark’s father pulled me aside. He HATED this idea! Why did he have to bribe his son? Why couldn’t his son just listen and do what he was told? Why should he reward this behavior with even more time sitting in front of a computer? 

I gave Mark’s dad the harsh reality; Mark didn’t have the social skills to combat his shyness. I emphasized that we wanted results. Also, I reminded Mark’s father that baseball games in the league Mark was trying out for were on Saturday’s, the same day of the week Mark typically sat in front of his computer for hours on end. If he was on a team that played games on Saturday’s Mark’s available time to use his computer would be reduced dramatically! It was a win-win!

Sure enough it worked (Thank God!) Mark went to the baseball tryouts and met 10 new people! He got their names and an interesting fact about each one! His father gave him the money to be a ‘Mod’ on Minecraft. Mark made the team, and made some new friends. Did his shyness completely go away? No, but Mark now knows how to maneuver within a group of people he’s never met before. He knows how to talk with people he doesn’t know. He’s no longer preferring to be by himself.

And…. The bullies that use to torment him now leave him alone. By reducing Mark’s shyness he developed an ability to make good friends. These friends who stick up for him and, as a direct result, his self-esteem increased which gave him the ability to stick up for himself.

One bribe enabled Mark to gain the social skills that will serve him for a lifetime!


Mr. G,
A.K.A. James Gavsie, author of the soon to be released book "The Renegade's Guide to Stopping Bullies"
Founder of Max Impact Martial Arts 
Follow me on Twitter @jamesgavsie

This post first appeared on Story Of A Man, please read the originial post: here

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Use Bribery to Beat Bullying! Yes, Bribery!


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