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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 November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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