How Do You React When People Are Mean?

December 21, 2008


Most of us have dealt with mean people at some point. Sometimes it’s easy to work out their reasons for being unkind to you. Other times, it feels as though they gain some sort of pleasure from inflicting pain on others.

We all know that we can’t control the behaviour of other people. But we can control how we react to the mean behaviour of others and prevent their negativity from affecting us.

And I’ll be the first to admit, it can be a difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when we don’t understand the reason for their behaviour. But it’s easier if you keep this quote by Deepak Chopra in mind:

“You must realize that everyone is doing the best they can from their own state of consciousness” - Dr. Deepak Chopra

Do Deepak Chopra’s words resonate with you? When folk seem to be being unneccessarily mean to you, how do you deal with it?

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And if you often find it a struggle to deal with folk who seem to direct unnecessarily mean behaviour at you, I highly recommend reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Oprah’s Book Club, Selection 61)

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17 Responses to “How Do You React When People Are Mean?”

  1. Wesley on December 21st, 2008 8:28 am

    This post really spoke to me.

    When I first started blogging, one person left about 50 comments on all different posts of my blog. The comments were rude, were filled with obscenities, and even threatened my life. For awhile I was actually scared that someone was going to try to kill me. This person also sent me an email claiming that “a lot of people” were “angry” with me. I almost stopped blogging because I feared that my life was at stake and didn’t want to bring anymore attention to myself.

    After about a half an hour I was able to calm down. I realized, this is just a single person. He claims that others are “angry” with me too but none of them have even bothered to send me an email. I didn’t do anything to him; I don’t even know him, and he’s in Houston. He’s couldn’t kill me even if he wanted to, and he has no reason to want to. He’s just a troll. That made me feel a lot better. I decided it wasn’t worth contacting the police and just got on with my life. I blocked him from leaving comments and I blocked his email address on my Gmail account.

    In real life, unfortunately, it’s not nearly as easy as just blocking an email address, and if this man had continued to harass me I probably would have had to go to far more drastic measures. It’s sad that there are people like that out there, and I truly hope he is able to find peace with himself, as most bullies were previously bullied themselves.

    Wesley’s last blog post..I Love Vered DeLeeuw

  2. Mike Goad on December 21st, 2008 12:59 pm

    I don’t agree with that particular sentiment of Deepak Chopra. Some people aren’t “just doing their best they can.” Some people are just mean because it’s easier that way for them.

    I had a coworker who is just a real pain in the butt and can be quite mean at times. I’ve known him for probably 20 years and, at best, I have to say we were on civil terms, though he was quite friendly with others in the office. He could be a nice enough guy. It was just his nature that it was easier to be mean.

    Mike Goad’s last blog post..A Christmas Window Display of Toys ? 25 Days of Christmas: Day 21

  3. Kim Woodbridge on December 21st, 2008 1:09 pm

    Wow - perfect timing Cath. Recently I’ve had someone who hasn’t been purposefully mean but very inconsiderate and selfish. I was getting really upset about it but talked myself through it. “I can choose to be angry, but it’s not going to accomplish anything - it won’t change what this person is doing.” It really helped to calm me down.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..(Anti) Social-Lists 12/21/08

  4. Jim Gaudet on December 21st, 2008 2:05 pm

    First, I see you have Chromed Out your blog and added a menu. I will have to give it some closer views a little later (after football).

    Second,

    This is only something I have learned through time and patience, but I am very good now at allowing someone to mean to me without having a reaction. What I mean is, I do not get upset in front of them, nor do I do something like try to be overly nice to them to try and change the situation.

    I think that whatever is coming out needs to come out. If it is something really bad, then I will try to just leave so it can talked about at another time.

    Jim Gaudet’s last blog post..This is Way too Personal?

  5. Jenny Mannion on December 21st, 2008 2:25 pm

    Hi Cath,
    Thanks so much for the link love! :-) I, as you know am big believer in this. I also think it is important to mention forgiveness here. In saying you forgive someone you don’t necessarily have to agree with whatever they did BUT you are saying you have had enough of it stopping you from moving forward and occupying your mind. It does no one any good to go over one specific event over and over. Blame, hatred, anger — best to notice them, WHAT you have learned from them and let them go. It is healthy to notice emotions but not healthy to bathe in them and let them consume your every thought for too long.

    People react the way they are used to reacting 99% of the time. In consciousness you are stopping and listening to those recorded messages. It helps to realize that most people are just reacting the way THEY are used to — it is not that they are consciously saying “wow I am going to cause this person harm — something has been triggered in them that is causing them to act/say “badly”.

    Wesley obviously “touched a nerve” in something he wrote which sent the commentor into a wild rage and he used every bit of his energy to try to intimidate Wesley. Wesley’s reaction was wonderful…. Yes, of course something like this will throw you at first, but he was able to calm himself down, realize it was not him or TONS of other people… it was one person’s reaction and he could do something to block that person from getting in the way of his happiness again.

    Thanks again! :-)
    Love,
    Jenny

    Jenny Mannion’s last blog post..“What If?” — A Movie that can Change the Way you See EVERYTHING — Clip 3

  6. cathlawson on December 21st, 2008 3:52 pm

    Hi Wesley - that was a scary experience. I think you dealt with it well. A lot of new bloggers give up when they’re harrassed by wackos. Thankfully - we can block their comments and emails.

    As you say - it’s sad really and there’s a good chance this guy had been bullied by others before.

    Hi Mike - So it seems like the guy knew he was being mean? I wonder what had happened to him to make it feel easier to be that way?

    Hi Kim - That’s a good attitude. As you say - being angry wouldn’t accomplish anything. And I guess, sometimes the other person may be completely unaware that they’re being selfish or inconsiderate.

    Hi Jim - it shows how cluttered looking my blog was before. I always had menus - I just replaced a lot of the small ads with one big one - so maybe folk can actually find the menus now.

    That’s a good point - when you don’t react immediately, often it can make the other persons behaviour worse. By leaving it - it gives them and you, a chance to reflect.

    Hi Jenny - you’re welcome. I like the way you explain forgiveness. I think a lot of people find it difficult to forgive, as they think they are condoning bad behaviour. But it’s really more about letting go for the sake of your own sanity.

    That is interesting when you say a person is just used to behaving that way. I guess they just haven’t yet got round to looking at that particular aspect of themselves, to see if changes need to be made.

  7. Brad Shorr on December 21st, 2008 5:04 pm

    Hi Cath, I tend to ignore meanies unless there’s no real alternative to a confrontation. In those cases, I try to be as positive as possible and give people the benefit of the doubt. Not always easy, but life’s too short to get sucked into another person’s universe of negativity. One thing I really don’t have patience for is snarky anonymous blog comments. If you can’t put your name on it, you shouldn’t be saying it.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..A Head Turner from Middle Zone Musings

  8. on December 21st, 2008 5:35 pm
  9. Jannie on December 21st, 2008 6:48 pm

    Luckily I don’t get too much meaness in my life anymore, got away from the school bullies a long time ago and avoid negative people and situations like the plague.

    Perhaps the meanest I get is an occasional rude driver so I, like Dot from “Deeper Issues,” I take out my pistol and shoot them. No, seriously, I used to take those slights personally, now I just utter a quick expletive, crank up the music and forget it quickly.

    Jannie’s last blog post..Totally Somebody Now

  10. Steve | Trade Show Guru on December 21st, 2008 6:51 pm

    hi Cath,
    I think life is a lot easier if one doesn’t worry about or take personally when other people say (untrue) mean things. It is best just to ignore them.
    ~ Steve, aka the “whatever, talk to the hand” trade show guru
    PS. I just tried to subscribe via email, but I got the error message: “The feed does not have subscriptions by email enabled” ?

    Steve | Trade Show Guru’s last blog post..Top 3 Trade Show Display Design Mistakes

  11. Steve | Trade Show Guru on December 21st, 2008 6:53 pm

    oops, I meant to subscribe to this post to see what your answer was on subscribing by email… ~ Steve

  12. Hunter Nuttall on December 21st, 2008 7:15 pm

    Personally, I find it a lot easier to deal with mean comments from anonymous people, even if the comments are severe. I just figure “this person has issues.” Mean comments (or not even mean, but just critical) from someone with a name, or someone I know, are a lot harder for me. But I guess it’s best to try to resolve every situation amicably. (And I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word “amicably!”) Thanks for the link.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Twitter - Social Media’s Hidden Gem

  13. Lance on December 21st, 2008 11:12 pm

    Hi Cath,
    Well…this is perfect timing for me…. I had something come up today, where it just felt like I was being accused of something, when in fact I had done nothing. In the heat of the moment, I reacted (and negatively). And the thing is, just like the Chopra quote - I have no way of judging where this other person was at. Something, definitely, for me to think about, and how the situation was handled, or could have been handled better. Thanks, Cath.

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  14. Marelisa on December 22nd, 2008 5:01 am

    Hi Cath: I agree that you have to realize that what others say and do is about them and not about you. However, it’s really hard to remain calm when someone is being mean to you because of their issues when you’ve done absolutely nothing to them.

    A couple of days ago I got off the elevator of my building and a lady I don’t know walked past me and said “hello”. I said “hello” back but apparently she didn’t hear me. She immediately went off on an angry rampage saying that I was rude and that when someone greets you the polite thing to do is to greet them back. I turned around and told her that I did greet her, and that it wasn’t my fault that she hadn’t heard me. Then I just walked away. It’s amazing how people try to unload their negative feelings onto others, even those they don’t even know.

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Lateral Thinking: Think Out-of-the-Box

  15. Davina on December 22nd, 2008 7:18 am

    Hi Cath. It is difficult to understand the reason for their behaviour, but I’d be willing to wager a guess that even they are not conscious of it. They’re obviously not happy people.

    One suggestion is to reflect back to them what you are seeing. A friend of mine just started working with children and she is doing a lot of reading. Sometimes we have to talk to adults like they are children. “Ok, I understand that you are upset, but….” Somehow this diffuses them and it helps you to ground yourself and not take on their negativity.

    Davina’s last blog post..A Positively Dysfunctional Christmas

  16. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome on December 22nd, 2008 2:54 pm

    Thanks for the links, Cath.

    As a people pleaser when someone is mean to me, I try to fix it. I’ve learned however that many times trying to fix it just makes it worse and to just let it lie.

    Sometimes after the moment, I’ll explain to the person if they are particularly close to me, what it was about what they said that hurt me and then ask for them to change how they approach me on such manners.

    Often it’s just a case of different speaking styles and word definitions.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..The First Step is Getting Off the Floor: Naomi Dunford Interview

  17. Cath Lawson on December 22nd, 2008 6:41 pm

    Hi Brad - I know what you mean re - the horrid, anonymous blog comments. At one time, I really used to let them get to me but as a lot of folk said, the people doing it are cowards. And they must have serious issues to make them behave like that.

    Hi Akemi - this is a good explanation. So the folk that aren’t evolving towards the light are not negative entities? I have been wondering about the negative entities - do they stay like that throughout each lifetime, or are they able to change?

    I remember your manipulation post. It is excellent.

    LMAO Jannie - when I first read about the shooting - I thought you were being serious. I avoid road rage. I know a woman who had a crash - apparently it was her fault, but she got out and went mad with the other driver. Then she got a witness she knew to lie for her.

    Funny thing was, a few months later, she got a job and she wound up working with the guy she had done all that too. And everyone knew what she had done. I guess karma caught up with her.

    Hi Steve - it’s best to ignore them and not take it personally if you can isn’t it. Re: Subscribing by email - the link in the header doesn’t work. I tried to change it but I’m technologically challenged. I think I’ll try to put a link in the sidebar instead.

    Hi Hunter - I guess amicable is the best way. As you say - negative comments can feel even worse when you know who the person is. I’ve had those problems on here a couple of times in the past - and I probably dealt with them badly. Letting it get to you just makes you feel worse.

    Hi Lance - It’s difficult to deal with these sometimes. I’ve been in the same kind of situation and also dealt with it badly. But the important things is, you’re able to look back on it and know you could of dealt with it better. And if it happens again you probably will.

    Hi Mare - it sounds like the woman you met had confidence issues. She may have already been feeling rejected and angry when you bumped into her. I think you dealt with it well.

    Hi Davina - reflecting is a good technique. We learned that in nursing. It can make the other person feel a whole heap better because you’re telling them that you understand how they feel.

    Hi Alex - you’re welcome. I have more links than post today. I’ve also done the trying to fix things and made things worse.

    It is good that you’re able to tell folk who are close to you, how they’ve upset you. It’s a shame it wasn’t easier to do that with folk who weren’t so close.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..12 Life & Business Lessons From 2008

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