Mean people are everywhere so eventually, you’ll meet one. Their passion in life is to aggravate and stir up other people’s emotions.
They’ll randomly show up anywhere to ruin anyone’s day. If they’re having a bad day, they’re taking someone else down with them.
You’ll see them on the highway, in the workplace, on the internet, or even when you’re taking a walk, minding your own business.
These obnoxious people might be your boss, neighbor, someone in your friend group, or even a relative.
Certainly, they aren’t a dying breed, they’re everywhere. So it’s best to save yourself and your sanity by learning how to deal with them.
The strategies below work for various levels of mean people and certain situations. It’s up to you to decide which to use.
Here are some tips for handling mean people:
1. Stay calm and stoic with mean people
“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”
― Eric Hoffer
Just because this person has no emotional intelligence doesn’t mean you have to play their games. Don’t react to their nonsense. They’re striving every day to cause an emotional reaction from someone. Some of them are desperate for any interaction but don’t give it to them.
They want to target someone who’ll fire back at them. The satisfaction of controlling another person’s emotions makes them feel powerful.
2. Don’t take what mean people do personally
“If people say something rude or off-color, you have to take it with a grain of salt, because they don’t know you.”
— Chris Daughtry
Mean people flip out at others as a result of their insecurities or issues. They’re stuck in a victim mindset. So they believe the world is attacking their self-confidence and their weak ego.
As a result, they’re easy to offend always get defensive even if the situation had nothing to do with them.
3. Don’t assume you know the intentions of mean people
“It’s not a slam at you when people are rude, it’s a slam at the people they’ve met before.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
A lot of people assume what others’ intentions are even though they’re usually wrong.
For example, if someone passes you on the highway, don’t take it as an insult. Besides, they don’t even know you. Also, you don’t know them.
They might be rushing their wife to the hospital or dealing with some other emergency. It’s not about you so don’t get upset for no reason.
4. Banish their anger with kindness
“Being nice to those who treat you badly isn’t being fake. Your spiritual maturity has risen above the desire for vengeance.”
— Michael Binot
Even though it’s challenging to be nice to mean people, it can help them realize foul their behavior is.
Otherwise, if you react with hostility it can double the size of their fury and be disastrous for both of you. Therefore, it’s better to take the pleasant route.
Be nice to mean people and see how they squirm. Compliment them randomly, ask them a question and be interested in their answer. This throws them off track and they won’t want to mess with you anymore.
5. Use a shared interest to your benefit
“Do not be threatened by rude people, because rudeness is a sign of insecurity.”
― Gift Gugu Mona
If you and the rude person have something in common, that could be what squashes their negative attitude. Pets are one of the best topics to use.
It even works like a charm when interviewing for a job. When people share hilarious pet stories, they bond.
However, some mean people are a lost cause and should just be avoided.
5. Confuse mean people with respect
“No one is more insufferable than he who lacks basic courtesy.”
— Bryant H. McGill
Some mean people are bitter because they believe they didn’t get much respect in the past. So, now they’re power-tripping on everyone!
Pretend to give them what they want (respect) so you can free yourself from their irritating presence.
I know being respectful or polite with them is the last thing you want to do but it often works.
6. Have some empathy for mean people
“Most of the time, people don’t mean to be rude; it’s just their sadness showing through.”
— Sarah Jio
As the old saying goes, “Hurt people, hurt people.” If you ever read or have seen documentaries about serial killers, you know that most of them had a traumatic childhood. Later in life, they end up taking it out on others.
They’re malicious because no one ever cared about them. Now they’re projecting their past abuser onto you. However, their past isn’t your fault so you shouldn’t take the punishment for it.
When you show them a little empathy it can snap them back into reality.
7. Choose your battles with mean people
“Yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often. Best to say nothing at all, my dear man.”
— J. K. Rowling
Some rude people are unavoidable such as your family members or co-workers. In those cases, try to make things work but if it’s too horrible you may need to stop interacting with them or look for a better job.
Not every issue or person is worth fighting for so remember, it’s your choice whether to partake in a heated discussion about nothing.
8. Ignore mean people, they hate that
“The less you respond to rude, critical, argumentative people…the more peaceful your life will become.”
— Mandy Hale
After you have tried the above methods, and nothing worked, ignore them. Don’t reward them for their vile behavior by giving them attention. Maybe they had to act like that for their parents to notice them?
But you don’t have to suffer the consequences of their past issues.
So, walk away, close the door, or roll up the window. Whatever you need to do just cut them out and don’t give them more of your time.
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”
— Booker T. Washington
In short, we all encounter mean people at times. But if you handle them right, you can diffuse their attacks. Try different methods for various people and situations. Afterward, your life will be much easier without their added drama.
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