How to Deal with Rude & Toxic People
How to Deal With Nasty People
Sometimes people are not as nice as they could be. You may have to deal with people who behave in nasty ways at work, unkind individuals at school, or mean people at home. You can deal with such individuals by maintaining your cool, and avoiding conflicts with them. If you do get in a conflict with a person who treats you poorly, then there are several things you can do to improve the situation.
Maintaining Your Cool
Try to empathize with someone who treats you poorly.Though this may be difficult to do, showing empathy towards the person can help to turn a potential conflict into a more friendly discussion. Rather than react with anger or annoyance, you can try asking the person questions that are empathetic. Showing concern toward the person could be disarming and make them feel they actually have someone they can talk to, rather than simply be mean to.
- For example, you may be around a person who asks hurtful, pointed questions at work. They may do this to you or to others. Rather than get upset or angry at them, you may pull them aside and ask, “Are you okay?” or “What’s going on with you?” Getting sincere attention and concern from someone could be what they need to actually open up and be less aggressive or mean.
Take deep breaths and stay calm.If you are around someone who treats you poorly on a constant basis, then try to learn techniques for maintaining your cool around the person. Take deep, cleansing breaths when you start to get annoyed or frustrated. Focus on staying calm because getting upset or angry may give the unkind person more motivation to be mean.
- You may try doing five minutes of silent meditation in a quiet place at home or in your office to relax and calm down.
- Or, you can try deep breathing. Close your eyes and take a deep breath from your diaphragm for a count of five. Then, exhale slowly for a count of five. Repeat this several times until you feel calm and refreshed.
Try to maintain relaxed body language.Focus on maintaining relaxed body language when you are around someone who treats you poorly. Getting tense and anxious around the person will only make you more upset and unsettled.
- Keep your hands at your sides and stand with your shoulders rolled back. Also, try to maintain eye contact with the person, though you may not want to stare or pay too much attention to the person. Maintaining eye contact can cause the person to engage with you for a longer period of time.
Be a good listener, to a point.Make an effort to be a good listener when the mean person speaks. Showing attention to the person could help to avoid a conflict by showing them that you are interested in what they have to say. However, if the person continues to be nasty toward you or toward others, you may eventually decide to keep your distance and tune them out.
- For example, if the person makes a mean comment about someone or complains about their day, you may ask, "Why do you feel that way?" or "Is there anything that went well during your day? Tell me about it."
- Set limits and boundaries around how often you listen to someone who treats you poorly or engage with them. You may have a particular subject that you are sensitive about and choose to leave the conversation if the person who treats you poorly starts being mean or unkind about that subject. Or you may tune out once the person starts to speak unkindly about someone you know.
Stay away from the person who treats you poorly.Perhaps the easiest way to avoid conflicts with someone who treats you poorly is to make an effort to stay away from them. You may avoid them by taking a different route to school or by spending time in a different lunchroom at work. You may also keep your door closed at home if the person who treats you poorly lives with you.
- If you cannot simply stay away from the person on a daily basis, make an effort to keep your distance. Putting some space between you and the person could reduce the likelihood of you having to deal with the nasty person.
Pick your battles.You should also take a moment to consider if it is worth having a discussion with the person before you launch right in. Picking your battles will ensure that if you do end up in a conflict with the person, it feels worthwhile and important.
- Ask yourself, is what the nasty person all that important, in the grand scheme of things? Is it worth confronting the person over this issue? If the answer is “no” to these questions, you may be better off avoiding the conflict all together.
Use humor.Humor can help to diffuse and disarm a conflict with someone who treats you poorly. Making a joke to lighten the mood can force the person to pause and consider their actions. It can also relieve any tension in the room due to the presence of someone who treats you poorly.
- You may tell a joke to respond to the person in a light, funny way. Or you may tell a funny story if the person who treats you poorly asks a mean question in a group or says something unkind. Humor can act as a distraction and a deflection, especially around people who treat you poorly.
- For example, maybe the person makes a snide or rude comment about a co-worker to you. You may then use humor to deflect the poor attitude of the person by saying, "Well, I think we all have a rough time on Mondays", or you may simply make a joke about yourself to diffuse the situation by saying, "I know I struggle with clients, especially the quiet ones."
- Be careful not to direct the humor at the person who is treating you poorly. This may cause the person to feel threatened and lash out at you.
Change the subject.You can also diffuse conflicts with the person by quickly changing the subject or discussing another topic. Avoid getting defensive or angry at the person’s remark. Instead, shift the conversation to a new topic or ignore the person and discuss a different subject with someone else in the group. Ignoring the person will deny them the attention they are seeking and signal to the person that their behavior is not acceptable.
- For example, if the person who treats you poorly asks you a pointed question, such as “What is up with your hair today?” or “Your outfit is a mess”, you may ignore them and turn to the person next to you. Doing this will signal to someone who treats you poorly that you do not wish to get into a conflict with them and do not appreciate their attitude towards you.
Be proactive, rather than reactive.Rather than get upset or angry at the person, a reactive response, consider how you can be proactive about the situation. Being proactive can give you more power in the situation and show the person who treats you poorly that you are not rattled by their attitude. You can be proactive by standing your ground in an argument or conflict and letting the person know you are not okay with their tone or attitude towards you.
- For example, if the person who treats you poorly starts to analogize you with mean comments or questions, you may say, “I am not going to put up with your tone of voice or your attitude. I don’t appreciate being spoken to in a nasty way. Let me know when you are able to be civil and we can continue this discussion then.”
Get help from others if the conflict gets out of control.If the person who treats you poorly continues to be mean or unkind to you, or to others around you, you may need to reach out for help from others. You may need to enlist the help of other co-workers, other peers, or other family members. You may also reach out for professional help, such as a counselor at your school or a family therapist. Getting help will ensure you have the support you need to deal with someone who treats you poorly in a healthy way.
- For example, you may decide to talk to your co-workers about a worker who is acting nasty or mean. You may say, "Have you all noticed that Barb is acting inappropriately?"
- You may also lodge a complaint about the person with your company's HR representative so you can get support and help when dealing with this person.
QuestionThis girl is always horrible to me, yet she does it in a subtle way. Not many people can see it. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIgnore her. If she says something mean, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you're better than her, and she's not worth your time.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do people think it is okay to treat a person badly?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany people treat others badly because it makes them feel superior.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do if my neighbor keeps trying to get me to move away?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can live wherever you want. I would say just keep your head down and don't get into any arguments with your neighbor. If they begin threatening you, call the police.Thanks!
QuestionBut what if I have tried to be nice and it didn't work?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't give up, keep trying. If you're absolutely sure there is no hope, just avoid this person as much as possible.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I keep someone away from me when I am not allowed near them, but they keep following me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe truthful and direct with them. Explain that you do not feel comfortable being around them and that you are not allowed to spend time with them. Be nice, but be clear about how you feel.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do II do when someone uses my worst fear against me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to get over the fears and ignore the nasty people. They will gradually feel bored and stop using your fears against you.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if this person cries whenever they don't get their way, and eventually, you just feel like killing yourself, and everyone else in your cabin feels the same? What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey are probably just seeking attention. If you ignore them and don't let it bother you, they may stop.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if the nasty person is my mother-in-law?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerKeep your distance, and try to keep her out of your life as much as possible. If you happen to see her or hear from her, be civil and don't get bogged down by what she says.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I interact with a nasty person if they are unkind and never listen to me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to ignore them, but if they need help, help them.You may encourage them to act kindly.Thanks!
QuestionThere's a mean girl at the train station who has men and women following me everywhere I go. I have had outbursts telling them to leave me alone. How should I handle this situation? Police won't help.Top AnswererThis borders on harassment. Try to get friends and family to accompany you. Stay calm. Every time anything happens, file a report with the police. In time, enough reports will build up for them to be compelled into action. Alternatively, confront the girl directly, stating that her behavior is unacceptable and that you will file police reports every time she displays this behavior.Thanks!
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