Dealing with Dicks

Posted on November 11, 2013 by Robert Ringer


The bizarre NFL bullying case involving Richie Incognito (the accused bully) and his alleged victim, Jonathan Martin, brings to the fore once again a subject I have been spotlighting for years.  I don’t know the facts in the Miami Dolphins’ case, but I have long been outspoken in my belief that bullying is the most prevalent form of terrorism in America (and, arguably, the entire world).

When people refer to terrorism, they normally mean radical Islamic violence.  But violence and, much more prevalent, the threat of violence, is just another form of bullying.  The fact is that bullying is one of mankind’s worst flaws, and it will always be with us.

As I detailed in my thirty-four-part series titled “The Cho Factor,” a majority of kids who have used deadly force against students and teachers have been victims of bullying.  The use of violence is totally unacceptable, but the fact is that bullying is what brought many of these kids to a point in their lives where they either no longer wanted to live or they had become so angry that they wanted to harm others — or both.

Like radical Islamic terrorism, however, school shootings are part of a much broader issue, one that carries into adult life.  Power and status are the tools of choice for adult bullies.  There isn’t a person reading this article who isn’t familiar with how these tools are used.

The cliché “keeping up with the Joneses” is what status is all about.  It’s an invisible form of bullying, one that relies heavily on exclusion.  Whether it’s Kansas City or Beverly Hills, Little Rock or Manhattan, invisible bullying is a way of life.

Growing up in a typical, medium-sized Midwestern town, I witnessed the exclusion game being played day in and day out.  It was very intimidating and quite nauseating to observe.

That said, I suspect that there’s a great deal of bullying that goes on in the NFL, just as there is in every walk of life.  But in the Martin-Incognito case, the charge is that the bullying was not invisible.

Rather, it was outward verbal bullying, the kind that is so prevalent in grades K-12.  And, as untold millions of kids have discovered, verbal bullying can be worse than physical bullying, sometimes resulting in a child’s suicide (Florida twelve-year-old Rebecca Sedwick being a recent example of this tragic fate).

Again, I don’t know the facts in the Martin-Incognito case, but I do know that the jockocracy, as Howard Cosell used to refer to it, is a lead dog when it comes to bullying.  And, just as teachers, either through apathy or out-and-out encouragement, are so often the enablers of class bullies, so, too, are coaches enablers of bullies on sports teams.

The nature of the coaching profession tends to produce a macho, in-your-face attitude, and anyone who has played sports as a kid, or has children who have played Little League or youth basketball or soccer, knows just how nasty coaches can be toward kids who just want to have some fun playing sports.

And at the college and professional level, it only gets worse.  Most recently, Rutgers University fired head basketball coach Mike Rice for physically and verbally abusing his players.  No doubt Bobby Knight was his idol.

The unwritten rules of bullying are that the victim must either punch his tormentor in the face or shut up and suffer.  Yep, that’s exactly what a lot of people are saying — that Jonathan Martin should have either “taken the abuse” or punched his teammate, Richie Incognito, in the face.  What an admirable, civilized response that would have been.

What this bizarre situation has called attention to is the fact that adult bullies are everywhere — employers, supervisors, coworkers, friends … it can be just about anyone.  Politicians and bureaucrats, of course, bully all of us virtually every day.

Last week I was even bullied — literally — by a maintenance guy who came out to fix our furnace.  I asked him a couple of questions about the repair work he was doing for us, and he responded to me as though I were an ignorant child.  I shuttered to think how he must treat his children.

No doubt about it, the human race is saturated with bullies — nasty people who cause others grief and stress, who make them feel insecure or inadequate, who fill their hearts with hate and overwhelm their brains with anger.  In modern parlance, such degenerates are commonly referred to as “dicks.”

So what’s best way to deal with dicks?  Through the years, I have perfected a simple strategy that I like to refer to as the “HIP” Solution:  Humor – Ignore – Part ways.  That’s right, just humor any miscreant that crosses your path, then ignore him from that point on, and, if that doesn’t solve the problem, part ways with him — permanently.

I don’t like to be around nasty people.  I don’t like to be around irrational people.  I don’t like to be around confrontational people.  I don’t like to be around petty people.  I don’t like to be around dishonest people.  Plain and simple, I don’t like to be around dicks.

That said, I should point out that one of the questions I have been repeatedly asked over the years is, “What can you do if an annoying person is your coworker or employer?”  I acknowledge that it’s easier said than done, but I still believe that the best solution is to implement the HIP Solution.

Humoring takes a lot of mental effort if you have to do it every day.  And ignoring someone who works next to you — or, worse, someone from whom you have to take orders — is not really practical.

Which is why, in extreme bullying situations, you have to man up — not by punching someone out, but by having the courage to part ways with him.  As I said recently on my Facebook page, the only power people have over you is the power you give them, and you can withdraw permission at any time.

Whether it’s a marriage, a job, or the city you live in, you should never use it as an excuse to stay put and be miserable.  A miserable life is a wasted life.  If Jonathan’s Martin’s perception was that he was being abused, and if humoring and ignoring his abuser was not working, I admire him for having the courage to make his exit.

I say courage, because not many players would walk away from a pro football career.  My guess is that he’ll be back — on some team — but he was willing to risk being blackballed from the sport to rid himself of the mental stress he was enduring.

Now, the question you might want to ponder is whether or not, at the moment of truth, you, too, would have the courage to risk everything to keep your dignity.  The answer is important because it goes a long way toward determining how your life plays out.  If you’re focused on getting somewhere in life, you don’t have time to deal with dicks.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

33 responses to “Dealing with Dicks”

  1. Cork Horner says:

    Hello Robert. I have followed you since first knowing you in Looking out for Number 1″ . I was a broker back then too!

    Basically I am an entrepreneur. At my tender age of 76. Hq’d in phoenix.

    If I am not mistaken, you are what I will call a ‘ closet Libertarian’. I am. But we all need to listen to each other to move ahead in the interests of rverybody.

    • imgettingdizzy says:

      Mr. Horner, I recommend reading through some of Mr. Ringer's archives — you might change your mind about how closeted he is about his Libertarian ideals!

  2. We agree with you 1000% !!!! There are to many DICK'S in our world ! It is about time for the GOOD stand up to all the DICK'S ! We both got all our DICK'S out of our life , like family members and friends ! And only work with the GOOD in life ! Thank you

  3. Tom Rochford says:

    I whole heartedly agree. For a full treatment of this subject, I recommend everyone read "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't," by Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D, 2007.

  4. Tom says:

    I ask myself when I see irrational people like this what the source is? Biological? Biochemical? A lousy home environment, with blaring punk rock music, junk food, tough finances? A friend tells me many of the people in his AA 12 step meetings have had a history with cocaine as well. So you have people with messed up cognitive and pleasure centers in their brains, many are on prescription meds.. One sibling of mine has literally been through the mill of the therapeutic doctor system with new and old meds creating new health issues requiring new treatments, because people are not courageous enough to say no to the doctors regarding pampering treatments.

    How do you fight back? I used to allow myself to be pushed around, this nearly ruined my life with numerous rip-offs. Finally I started turning in the malefactors to the authorities, report the bastards to whoever has oversight over them. Cops have citizen oversight boards, businesses have lots of oversight as well. I was never taught this in fact the libertarians preach the opposite–laissez faire, ie. let it be, peace–which does absolutely nothing to fight human evil.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      Many police are the worst bullies in the world. They will slam you in handcuffs and take you away just for asking them a question. REPORT THEM if this happens to you.

  5. Kevan Rowlee says:

    Robert, I don't go as far as Gilbert Richardson does above where he says "we agree with you 1000%," however you can put me down in agreeing with you the "lion's share" of the time. Most of the time your "HIP solution" would be sufficient, but there are occasions when a "man" has to measure up to being a man and actually fight. Stand up and fight like a man or shut up is where the term "man up" is derived. In the case of "Martin-Incognito" perhaps walking away was sufficient for Martin because he alone is the arbitrator of that. Not any one else. Myself, had I been Martin, I would have slugged Incognito… and more than once if necessary.

    I don't think for a minute Martin wouldn't intervene if Incognito was pushing around teenagers, cripples or a woman.

  6. Tex says:

    Yes, I read your entire series on "The Cho Factor" as you published it. Excellent analysis! That said, I have to disagree with your HIP solution. HIP is a solution but not to the exclusion of a punch to the face, if required. I understand your reasoning for HIP but I also understand that sometimes force is required to stop force. My dad was bullied as a kid so he took boxing lessons. That put an end to the intimidation he was suffering. Likewise, I took Karate lessons as a kid and was able to stop my tormentors. It would be nice to live in a rational world but that isn't the reality of our existence. If you don't "nip it in the bud," aggression can easily get out of hand. Unfortunately, self-defense does require counter-force much of the time. "Dicks" aren't intelligent enough to learn from subtle hints like HIP.

  7. Guest says:

    Buddha was traveling with a man who resolved to bully him until he responded. For three days, the fellow traveler heaped abuse on Buddha who did not respond. Finally, exhausted, he asked, "Why don't you respond to my insults?" Buddha answered, "If someone offers you a gift and you refuse it, to whom, then, does it belong?"

    If you're not at that rarified level of spiritual development, then as Robert Rourke once observed, a quick punch on the nose is a great way to teach manners.

  8. blh557 says:

    Having been a smallish child up until the age of about 21 I was not only accustomed to being bullied, but also to dealing with bullies. Although your HIP suggestion works the majority of the time there are times when it is not enough. Some bullies are bullies for the simple fact that they derive their own self-worth from the degradation of others' and refuse to allow the "parting of the ways". In that case, physical confrontation can NOT be avoided.

    After several years of abuse by multiple bullies I finally became aware that fighting back was the ONLY way to extinguish THEIR flame from my way. I became known as a giant killer, because all of those guys who used to bully me (and others) became ham-stringed after they had to appear in public with broken noses and blackened eyes. Needless to say the majority of bullying became a thing of the past, except for the passing ignorant dope who wouldn't leave well enough alone.

    My point; allowing a bully to continue to bully ANYONE only encourages them to continue. Fighting back, even if you walk away bruised and bloody, stops it.

    BTW; if the truth were told the guy in the previous post's lesson probably beat the crap out of Buddah.

    • Tom says:

      Fighting back physically is a really stupid tactic, it could easily land you on the wrong side of the law unless your life is being threatened, witness the Travon Martin story, he fought back because he thought he was being bullied, we know how that ended up.

      On professional sports, frankly I have little interest in what used to be an enjoyable activity, but now bears about the same relation to traditional character-based physical fitness activity as porn bears to meaningful committed relationships between people of the opposite sex.

  9. Scott theczech says:

    The National Football League; the icon of civilized behavior, refined culture and fair play – it is not! It is a cartel, granted exclusion by Congress from most aspects of Anti-trust law in this country. It is guilty of paying bounties for illegal "hits" on opposing players, hides and covers-up material facts pertaining to concussed players, crushes any league competition by intimidating and extorting advertisers…and the list goes on and on.

    It was only a matter of time until someone like Mr. Martin stepped up and said "enough!" Bullying is just another of many symptoms of a diseased culture. The NFL will quickly and efficiently "circle the wagons" on this event too and it shall soon pass as well; simply too much money and power involved. After all, the NFL Owner's Association is a very close and exclusive club – this is a much bigger and meaner bully than Mr. Incognito.

  10. Andrew Foss says:

    Happy to see you following up the The Cho Factor series. Your insights in this arena go so far beyond the public discourse and strike to the heart of that underbelly of human interaction that we both ignore and cower from. With Football too, remember last year's Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Teo who faced scorn for all of his very public embarrassment. He was obviously socially awkward, and made so much more difficult by the public nature of his public skewering. i can only imagine what his locker-room life has been like since.

  11. Phil says:

    Thank you Robert. I went to a private Catholic school in Atlanta, Georgia, which neurotically prides itself on fielding the biggest, baddest (in their own minds) high school football team in the state. My first lesson back in 8th grade was how to furtively spear tackle my opponent such that I would avoid a foul. Ever since that day I chuckle at the notion that sports build character. Real character on that Miami team would have been other players standing up and saying that enough is enough.

    And hell will freeze over before that occurs.

    Thanks again.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I agree with you that the mantra that sports builds character is overhyped. It flies in the face of the disproportionate number of college and pro athletes who get in trouble with the law.

  12. larajf says:

    I wish we didn't use the word "dick" since it's a great nickname for Richard. And it's the name my father uses. Can't we just refer to them as "assholes" or "jerks" or "useless blobs of carbon?" And let's bring the name "Dick" back to honor like Dick Tracy and Dick Clark. Pretty please?

    • liz says:

      This is the only objection I, too, would have to Robert's commentary — not because of the name association, which I totally understand your point, but because of the slang body part reference which is solely male. I likewise don't appreciate the word bitch being bandied about for every unpleasant thing under the sun because of it's reference to females. I think asshole is a perfect word for an unreasonable person of any kind — everybody has one and they all create a stinking mess.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I like "useless blobs of carbon." Very creative. Apologies to your dad.

  13. joesugar says:

    An excellent article. For an interesting insight into why bullying and hazing is not only permitted but encouraged in groups like sports teams, schools, etc., I recommend Chapter 3 (Commitment and Consistency) of "The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. This book (along with Robert Ringer's various titles) is one I constantly recommend.

  14. fuzzykendyl Allyson says:

    You "shuttered" to think? Surely you mean "shuddered".

  15. Joey says:

    My blood boils when I hear stories like this; would advise getting armed to the teeth, you don't need to take guff and crap from no one and beat the living tar out of all the bullies that get in my way. If the cops come warn them that if they violate your Constitutional RIGHTS YOU WILL NOT STAND FOR IT!!! SUE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE ROGUES AND YOU ARE RIGHT!!! ME ARE MARGE HAVE A DOOR MAT THAT SAYS "GO AWAY" AND SIGNS THAT SAY "WE DON'T CALL 911!!!"

  16. AL says:

    Hello. It seems to me many of your readers including you are harboring quite a bit of hostility. Bullying is a byproduct of upbringing in the home. There’s no need to call these ‘people’ the d-word, as you said they come from all walks of life. My Pop is a WWII vet, and I boxed and played sports growing up. If you ‘humor’ or ‘ignore’, this ALWAYS leads to a fight, you walk away or fight. I always stuck up for the bullied, that’s what the rest of the team shudda done.

  17. Steve says:

    What's up with these furnace repair men? I had a similar situation with a furnace repair man the other day who did not want to answer questions iwth straight answers. One question Robert, do you watch these guys while they do their work or let them be?

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I don't watch them very much, just ask a question now and then. But when they're dicks, questions invite dickery at its worst. They HATE questions.

  18. Cameron says:

    Another good read is a book called "Dealing With Difficult People". The bullies of the world are categorized as "Hostile Aggressives", and the author advises that standing up to them directly is the only way to diffuse the conflict. He even suggests that the person will often respect you, and even befriend you (!) for it. While I really like Robert Ringer's H-I-P solution, I would add one step between the 'Humour' and 'Ignore': 'Address'. Tell the bully how you feel about his behavior and inform him/her that it is unacceptable! This is important, because if you just ignore it, then you will have an unexpressed resentment as your burden to carry. There is also the remote possibility that the bully, having been called out for bad behavior, will learn something and make better choices in the future.
    In the case of the rude furnace repairman, Mr. Ringer was in the position of power in that situation, and he would have done well to take advantage of that. He was the paying customer and could have given his business to another repairman!
    If addressing the situation fails to produce a good result, then 'Ignore' and 'Permanently Separate', but at least you got it off your chest.

  19. @policci says:

    Turn the other cheek first, when that doesn't work fight fire with a blow torch…

  20. Excellent post, Keep it up.

  21. Such a useful post thanks.