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How to Deal With Mean People in Your Life

I have noticed that there are two spontaneous reactions when it comes to dealing with negative people 1) we get mean and rude back or 2) we let them run all over us while boiling inside with righteous indignation. Neither of these options seems particularly attractive...This weekend I had a very frustrating incident. As I was getting into a taxi, the driver got distracted and started driving off without checking if I had closed the door. Can you imagine my shock when I had one leg inside the car and the car suddenly started moving? I literally jumped inside, but my ankle still got caught in the door. Besides an ugly bruise I got a piece of the driver’s mind about how long it takes for SOME people to get into a car. No “I’m sorry!” No “Are you ok?” Nothing! I am usually good at controlling my temper, but this time all I could think of was how much I want to smack this rude man and give him a piece of my mind about his manners.

Do you often let a rude taxi driver, an uncaring boss, an insensitive co-worker or an arrogant stranger ruin your day? Have you ever wondered why sometimes people purposely say or do mean things?

I could come up with 4 main reasons:

a) They try to overcompensate for their hurt Ego. Someone has hurt them in the past when they felt especially vulnerable and now they are trying to regain their power and self-confidence by hurting you.

b) They secretly fear that they have the same quality that they are making fun of. For example, if a person makes derogatory remarks about someone being overweight, they are most likely insecure about their own body and are afraid that people will notice it too.

c) They are deeply attached to their sufferings and failures. As weird as it may seem, many people refuse to let go of their negativity, because it brings some drama into their life and gives them something to worry about.

d) They crave attention and love. Just like teenagers when reaching a difficult age act out of spite to prove their own independence, adults defy social norms to get attention and a strong emotion out of you (even if it is a negative emotion).

How do you respond to mean people?

I have noticed that there are two spontaneous reactions when it comes to dealing with negative people 1) we get mean and rude back or 2) we let them run all over us while boiling inside with righteous indignation. Neither of these options seems particularly attractive.

In fact there is a better way to deal with mean people – do not let them get to you.

There is a great story on this topic:

One day a man came up to Buddha and spat in his face. Buddha, slowly wiped of the spit with his shawl and asked, “Do you have anything more to say?” The man was not ready for this question, and ashamed he ran away.

That night the man could not get to sleep, because he realized that he had actually offended an enlightened person. The next morning he came back and fell in front of Buddha on his knees. Again Buddha looked at him and asked, “Do you have anything else to say”. The man was completely puzzled, “Yesterday I offended you and you didn’t get mad, today I am begging for your forgiveness and you are not happy. Why?!” Buddha looked at him with his peaceful smile and said, “Because I am not your Slave”.

You can not enter a lake filled with silt and dirty water and come out clean. When you let mean people drag you down to their level, they start to control your actions and their negativity rubs off on to you.

Think of mean people as huge garbage trucks. They are full of anger, frustration, hatred, disappointments and negativity. When that garbage starts to pile up, they feel the need to dump it on someone else (preferably someone who is in a good mood). If you have been chosen as a dump spot, do not allow them to run over you and do not spread this negativity onto other people.

Refuse to take all angry or offensive comments close to heart. Just smile and wish those people well, because they are the ones who deserve compassion more than anyone else. After all they carry tons of emotional garbage with them 24/7.

I do not like to use the phrase “kill them with kindness”, because it sounds vindictive. If behind your bright smile lays an attempt to provoke the person even further, then you are no better than he/she is. If you can not be truly kind to someone who is being mean to you, polite indifference will do just fine.

Remember, you do not have to attend every argument that you are invited to. Just say, “No, thanks” and move on to something that brings you joy and distracts your mind from indulging in negative emotions. You can pray, think of your favorite quote, sing a song in your head or just recall a funny story from your past. For example, when I feel irritated I usually repeat my positivity “mantra”. That is the only reason why one infamous taxi driver did not get yelled at. 🙂

22 Comments
  • Thisarani Chiranthika
    January 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    oh my god….. thanks god u r safe….

  • Holayemi Emmanuel Hadehsoji
    January 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    What a great illustration that one derive morals

  • Shaji
    January 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    This is 100% right. But at the time of incident everybody can’t think about these wonderful sentences and to behave towards them like that. Sometime thinking and seeing of their face makes you very much anger because of your some past experiences. But it’s very difficult to behave as you sometimes, but it’s good. If we follow your above sentences that’s 100% right. But every body can’t at all times. I’m an angry man towards all nuisance and 100% truthful, but I can’t control my anger.

  • Adegboye Idowu
    January 15, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    whao, hope you are not hurt? there is no special way to deal with them than LOVE. Be nice to them and smile even when they are not being nice.

  • Olayemi Emmanuel Adesoji
    January 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    What a great illustration that one derive morals

  • Ray Peters
    January 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    But smacking him would have felt good 😀

  • Adegboye Hydoughwuh
    January 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    whao, hope you are not hurt? there is no special way to deal with them than LOVE. Be nice to them and smile even when they are not being nice.

  • charity
    January 16, 2010 at 9:32 am

    That is all very true- I have one co-worker who feels the need to constantly prove that she is better than everyone. I get very frustrated and just trend to stay away from her or ignore her altogether. I can see that she is probably insecure and lives by her ego, but somehow I just can’t sympathize.

  • Kamal Bakshi
    January 16, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    should be carefull!!!!!!

  • Kamal Bakshi
    January 16, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    hope you havent got hurt!!!!!!!

  • YKJAIN
    January 16, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    It is true, It is difficult for those who don’t know of themselves but others.
    Dear Arina I owe you so much for what I learn from you.

  • mohamad khnghaei
    January 17, 2010 at 4:11 am

    it is my most experience but some times i could n’t control my self and now i will do your suggestion

  • Vio
    January 17, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Thank you very much for this great post! It is very helpful for me!

  • aarti
    January 17, 2010 at 8:39 am

    thanx Arina for such an inspiring article,u r helping me day by day for building a new n positive attitude towards life:)

  • Liz
    January 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

    The timing of this for me couldn’t be better. Thank you! It was extremely beneifical for me to read this! 🙂

  • der.adler
    January 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    makes me calmer ..reading your blog makes me realize that every problem has a solution.!

  • Bhawani
    January 19, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Great. The way you explain is commendable. I sometimes feel that I got a devine gift of getting you as my guide……Thanks.

  • Adebanjo, Olusanya
    January 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I know you will sake off my comment. But, however, this is elm, GOOD. I must say. Thank you always.

  • Guest
    January 13, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Here’s a good way to deal with mean people!! Yowzoo.com

  • VideoPortal
    March 22, 2017 at 3:16 am

    Acknowledge how the person makes you feel. Being within proximity of a mean person often requires proper armory. You know, at some point, the individual might throw something vicious your way. Feel the emotions that come with being around such a person. Don’t push these feelings away or act as if they are irrelevant. Name them.

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