We’ve all been there — having to deal with rude, mean human beings. It can be a little tiring, really. And most of the time, we can’t help but take it a bit too personally. The truth is, other people’s mean behavior affects us more than it really should, and this is not a healthy thing.
We often wonder why some people are so mean, but the thing that we really should be asking ourselves is why do we allow their meanness to affect us so much. The more we understand that people’s behavior towards us is more about them and not always about us, the less impact it should have on our emotional and mental well-being.
First things first — before you start mirroring other people’s behavior towards you, start by trying to see beyond what’s visible to the eye. There is something deeper than what is evident on the surface. And the reality is, every person has a story — and lots of backstories, for that matter. The least you can do is to try and understand that.
Why Are People So Mean?
In general, most people are not naturally mean. However, certain circumstances can make any of us act mean or do mean things. It’s part of our weaknesses as being human. By understanding this simple concept, you will come to realize that most people’s behaviors are often dictated by circumstances.
Now don’t get this wrong — this is NOT a good nor an acceptable excuse to be rude to one another. Your circumstances should never define your character. Unfortunately, not all human beings have this kind of perception, so some individuals easily fall into the trap of being hard and mean when under undesirable situations.
Most people who are mean or act rude to another often do this unintentionally. More often than not, they are not in their right minds to think clearly and act rationally. Their brain is mostly clouded by certain emotions such as anger, pain, personal struggles, bitter experiences, insecurities, and other negativity.
If you encounter these people and they are mean towards you, don’t take it personally. It is not your fault — and often, it’s not totally theirs either. It’s just that certain circumstances made them hard and bitter.
However, there are some people who are just plain rude. Under any circumstances.
No situation or person can ever control or change their behavior, unless of course if they know it favors them. It’s just how they are.
Perhaps it’s with the way they were raised. Or how they were treated.
Maybe they are not aware that their actions are rude. Maybe no one tells them.
Or worse, maybe they think it’s okay to be rude to another person.
Whatever the reason for their mean behavior is, there is one thing for sure: it is not your fault.
“People can be mean. Don’t take it personally. It says nothing about you but a lot about them.”
If you try to look past the outward behavior of a person, you will come to realize that how they act or treat another human being is just another page of their many backstories. When you learn to accept this, you will have a broader understanding as to why they are being what they are. And you will blame yourself less and won’t let their rudeness affect you just as much as you used to.
How to Deal With Mean People
Whether we like it or not, we will come face to face with several dark souls in this world. We will encounter different types of rude individuals throughout this lifetime, and we will be left with no choice but to have to deal with them.
So how exactly do we deal with mean people?
First of all, know that you cannot always control how mean people treat you — but you can control how you act and respond to them.
Fight or flight. This is the natural instinctive response when someone says something rude or does something bad to you.
You may feel like fighting back — to say equally mean and hurtful things about the person who treated you awfully. Attacking back may seem gratifying, because you will be letting the mean person have a taste of his or her own medicine.
But is it the right response?
You may get a sense of satisfaction fighting back, but it’s like letting the negativity of another person win over you. You let their meanness affect you so much that you allow it to convert you to be just as mean. By attacking back, you are allowing yourself to be just like them.
Or you may feel like it’s better to cower from them. You don’t like a fight, so you’ll just let this rude person treat you horribly instead. You’re playing the nice guy so you’ll just turn the other cheek, hoping that being nice will somehow instill guilt feelings to the other person, which doesn’t really happen. By doing this, you’re just feeding the other person’s ego and they may think it’s all right to boss around and bully others.
Neither of these responses are effective or helpful in putting a stop to meanness.
Instead, try to be constructive. When someone is being rude towards you, take a pause first before anything else and pay attention to your own feelings.
What exactly did this person say or do that affect your feelings? How does it make you feel? Hurt? Sad? Angry? Guilty? Ashamed? Scared?
Acknowledge your feelings. Most of the time, we tend to deny that other people’s unkind behavior caused us pain, when in truth, you are excruciating inside. Not being real to how you truly feel is like covering your bleeding wound with layers of foundation instead of applying a balm.
Once you learn to acknowledge your own pain, it will be easier to accept it. Be mindful of the unpleasant feelings. Know that you may not be in control of your emotions, but you can control how you act on them.
Before attacking back or cowering away, try to see them beyond their words and/or actions. Think of the possible reason why they are acting the way they do. What could be their story? See them for what they really are — insecure, threatened, lonely, wounded, perhaps maltreated, probably unloved.
Understand that they have a story that made them what they are, which you know nothing of. Only then can you act with compassion.
Tell them how they make you feel. There are instances when mean people are not aware that they are causing others pain. If you want to be constructive, then you have to be honest with them but stay calm. Tell them that their words and/or behavior make you feel bad, sad, or hurt. Usually, when we call out others, we can bring them back to their senses and help them realize the impact of their actions.
Don’t take it personally. Again, you have no control over other people’s attitude, but you can control your own. Practice to have a mindset of not taking anything personally. It’s normal to get hurt or offended by how others treat you, but don’t let your thoughts and emotions dwell too much on their negativity. After all, it’s about them, not you.
Walk away in peace. There’s no need to attack back. But do not let them abuse you too. As much as possible, stay away from mean people to avoid disturbing your own peace. If you really have to deal with them (for instance, it’s your boss or a co-worker who is mean towards you), just do your business with them professionally and quickly enough to get away from their presence as soon as possible.
“Be selective of your battles. Your peace of mind is more important than anything else.”
Let It Go
Don’t allow yourself to be brought down by anyone’s negative demeanor. There are some things that you just cannot change, no matter how much you try — and another person’s behavior is one thing. It’s them who should change their attitude, not you. For as long as you know that your own words and actions are not rude, there is no need to over-analyze other people’s treatment towards you.
All you can do is to keep an open mind, understand that they have their own stories, and choose to act with compassion.