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Published on November 4, 2020

How to Deal With Mean People the Smart Way

How to Deal With Mean People the Smart Way

Not everyone you meet in life will be on their best behavior. Whether they’re just having a bad day or are inherently grumpy, mean people are everywhere. However, you don’t need to reciprocate their rudeness.

People who work in retail and service industries know how difficult this forbearance can be. Being kind to mean people has never been easy, but it will get you much further in life than stooping down to their level.

Do you want to know how to deal with the most difficult people and customers around? You’re not alone. This guide will help you handle mean people the smart way.

Preparing for Confrontations

While coping with mean people is difficult, there are ways you can prepare for nasty confrontations so you can manage them more quickly and peacefully.

Start by taking the following steps:

1. Begin With a Foundation of Self-Care

To best manage your interactions with mean people, start by taking care of yourself. If you’re in a healthy mental and emotional state, you’ll be better equipped to relate to people lacking in those areas. If you’re not prepared, they’ll walk all over you.

Look for ways to strengthen your self-esteem and self-worth. If you make self-affirmation a regular practice, the insults of an angry person will be less likely to get under your skin.

Getting good rest and exercise will likewise improve your quality of life and your mood. Work on gaining that positive outlook, and the mean people of the world won’t throw you off your game as easily.

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2. Take a Deep Breath

If you can tell you’re in for a long and challenging interaction, take a deep breath. This simple action can slow your heart rate and calm you down enough to approach the situation with composure.

Breathing exercises are an effective way to reduce anxiety. You might well feel anxious when interacting with someone who is being unkind or irrational, so use this technique to keep your cool.

3. Learn How to Empathize

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to try to understand how they feel. Unfortunately rare in today’s world, empathy is a powerful attribute and critical to defusing tense situations.

Oftentimes, mean people may be reacting to outside situations that you have no knowledge of. While such people certainly aren’t fun to deal with, they could be facing their own problems that outweigh the present situation.

Acknowledge their frustration and ask what you can do to help. When you approach people with empathy, you will reduce their hostility. You might even get to the root of what’s really bothering them.

4. Practice Problem-Solving

While some people are mean just for the fun of it, more often than not, they’re simply expressing their frustration about a certain problem. Providing the solution is the quickest way to turn off the meanness.

Flex your problem-solving muscles, and you’ll be well-equipped to cope with the difficult people you encounter. Consider the problems that arise in your workplace and how you’d go about resolving them. Speed and accuracy in providing solutions will turn a mean person into a grateful one.

5. Actively Engage With Mean People

This tip may sound counterintuitive. There are plenty of scenarios in which you’ll want to avoid mean people, such as obvious bullies, if possible.[1]

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I’m not suggesting you go out of your way to find mean people to converse with. However, don’t shy away from situations where you can learn and grow from your interactions with less-than-pleasant individuals.

Avoiding all of the difficult customers won’t help you improve your communication, problem-solving, or customer service skills. The more experience you have with your fellow human beings, the better you can respond in tough situations.

6. Don’t Be the Mean Person

Are you the mean person mentioned in these hypothetical scenarios? It’s possible—in fact, an entire internet community has sprung up to ask this very question.[2]

There are times when you might be the mean person without realizing it. When you’re in the middle of a contentious conversation, it can be hard to pause for self-examination. But that’s exactly what you need to do.

Did you give a snarky response? Roll your eyes? If so, apologize. It will de-escalate the situation and help you regain a problem-solving perspective.

Mean people don’t mix well—their anger will bounce off of each other until it is out of control. When you stop being the mean person yourself, you’ll be able to deal with difficult people in a smarter way.

Handling Mean People in Practice

Preparation is half the battle. The second half is managing the confrontation itself.

No matter how well you’ve prepped for tense moments, you need to be able to conduct yourself with poise and professionalism when they arrive.

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Here’s how to do it:

1. Start off on the Right Foot

The first few seconds of an interaction really set the tone for the encounter. Be as warm and open as possible when interacting with mean people. Triggering them even further will do you no good.

Starting off on the right foot takes patience and self-discipline. That’s why preparing yourself for these confrontations is so important. If you can’t keep a level head, you’ll only make a bad situation worse.

2. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

Body language can say just as much as your words, if not more. Mean people can feed off of negative body language, such as slumped shoulders or folded arms. It shows them that they have power in the situation and encourages them to keep at it.

When dealing with rude customers or mean people in general, think about what your body language is telling them. Make eye contact, stand up straight, and maintain an appropriate physical distance. Projecting friendly confidence will make a huge difference in the interaction.

3. Follow the Golden Rule

Empathy is an internal attribute. The Golden Rule—“do unto others as you would have them do to you”—is what puts empathy into action.[3]

Following this ethical principle will help you take the best course of action in all confrontations. The Golden Rule guides you to act fairly at all times in the hope that the recipient of your good-natured behavior will reciprocate.

4. Avoid Retaliation

Responding to meanness with nastiness of your own will only escalate the situation. You can’t put out a fire with gasoline.

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When someone confronts you, respond with kindness, even when every fiber of your being wants to retaliate. The calmer you act, the more easily you can defuse the situation and put it behind you both.

5. Practice Listening

Listening is a nearly lost art. Too many people interrupt each other or simply wait for their turn to start talking. Genuinely listening to the person you’re communicating with requires so much more than that.

Listen intently to what mean people have to say. Reflect on their words before formulating a response. Taking the time to listen and respond thoughtfully will provide better results than just saying the first thing that pops into your head.

6. Speak Clearly and Carefully

In the heat of the moment, people will pounce on every word you say. They’ll look for ways to twist your words and use them against you. If you speak calmly and accurately, there will be nothing for angry people to use as ammunition.

Practice speaking clearly in every situation. Whether it’s explaining a company policy or pleading your case to a friend who feels wronged, speaking plainly will prevent a bad situation from getting any worse. It might even calm someone down who’s feeling angry or upset.

7. Get Someone Else Involved

The buddy system does wonders for unpleasant situations. It’s always nice to have someone on hand to help you say and do the right things and defend you when people start getting nasty.

Whether it’s a manager, a friend, or a trusted colleague, having someone else by your side will make mean people think twice about their grievances. The point isn’t to intimidate them but to encourage them to think more rationally by showing them another person’s point of view. When they no longer see you personally as the source of their problem, they will likely calm down.

Final Thoughts

In a perfect world, there would be no mean people. Until that blessed day arrives, though, you’ll have to learn how to handle those lovely individuals in a smart way. Start preparing today to deal wisely with mean people who cross your path, and you’ll leave both sides better off.

More Tips on How to Deal With Mean People

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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