How to deal with mean people

As featured in UpJourney.

We are proud to say that we have been included in a recent article for UpJourney that looks into the subject of why people do not like you and how to deal with the issues surrounding this and how facing this situation head on can help us learn valuable information about ourselves that we may otherwise overlook.

It’s inevitable that you will encounter mean people throughout your life—whether it’s a family member, a colleague at work, a friend, or a stranger on the street.

They can be hurtful, rude, and just downright unpleasant, so dealing with them can be draining and frustrating. Fortunately, there are strategies to handle them and make things easier.

According to experts, below are ways to help you out when dealing with mean people:

Ian Stockbridge

No one is immune to encountering a mean person. Mean people can be found in every aspect of life, from the grocery store to the workplace. 

Mean people are often spiteful, have little empathy, and enjoy making others feel bad to make themselves feel better. They can be: 

  • rude
  • condescending
  • insulting

They can also be highly manipulative and often very skilled at using other people’s vulnerabilities against them.

Unfortunately, mean people can also be very destructive and often cause a great deal of harm to those around them.

What to do if you encounter someone mean to you?

No one deserves to be treated poorly, especially by someone who is supposed to be: 

  • a friend, 
  • loved one, 
  • or someone who has influence or power, such as an employer. 

The good news is that there is a simple framework that you can use that will often be helpful.

Ask whether they are actually being mean

Are we sure? We first need to ask ourselves whether they are actually being mean. The mind has a habit of making all sorts of assumptions about things long before we know all the facts. 

So are we sure, or are we just making assumptions based on what we think is happening?

If you are sure they are being mean, the next question is, should we care? 

It doesn’t matter who we are in life. Not everyone will like us or treat us well. This goes from the best-paid movie or pop star to the most successful entrepreneur. 

They will all encounter people who are unnecessarily mean to them at times. So it is worth stopping and questioning how important this is to your life. Sometimes it just simply isn’t worth trying too hard to build bridges.

Be self-aware

Sometimes, if we stop and look at ourselves, we can identify that their meanness is a response to something we have done. Maybe we made a mistake with something or inadvertently said the wrong thing. 

If so, sometimes the easiest thing is to accept our mistakes and apologize.

Set clear boundaries

Setting boundaries can be critical if the reason for this behavior sits firmly with the other person—the first thing to remember when setting boundaries is that we have the right to do so. 

It is not ok for people to continually be mean to you, and simply allowing it to continue can impact self-esteem, our sense of self-worth, and over time a more profound impact on our mental health.

When setting a boundary, be clear. This is not the time for vagueness and a lack of clarity. Also, we do not need to apologize for setting a boundary. We all have the right to do so.

Practice self-care

It is so easy to believe the words said by our decenters. This is especially true if our self-esteem is already a little rocky. 

Related: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem – The Ultimate Guide

Recognizing the unkindness of the comments and making a deliberate plan to do something nice for ourselves can be really helpful. 

This can be as simple as: 

  • a bath, 
  • listening to relaxing music, 
  • or meeting friends. 

These are all great ways to replenish ourselves after being victims of other people’s unkindness.

Don’t become defensive 

The easiest thing when hearing negative words about ourselves is to snap back in retaliation. 

If we are trying to repair some rupture within a relationship or disentangle ourselves from someone else’s meanness, snapping or becoming overly defensive rarely helps.

Don’t be alone

Speaking to a friend, colleague, or counselor can be a good strategy. 

Trying to navigate such challenging situations on our own can be tough. So sharing with someone we trust or getting support from an independent counselor can be supportive and help us identify strategies for managing the situation in the future.

Detach from the situation

Sometimes, however hard we try to set boundaries or repair a rupture that has arisen with someone in our lives, the other person continues to be mean. 

In such cases, we may consider detaching from the situation and the person involved. Doing this in a way that does not make additional conflict but creates distance is what we are aiming for here.

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