Like it or not, mean people exist. They can be found anywhere from adult workplaces, to children’s schoolyards, to softball or football fields where we all gather for fun and friendly competition. Mean people’s words and or actions can cause us emotional anguish. Many operate intentionally while others function from a place of sheer ignorance not even realizing how negatively they impact others.
So what are we supposed to do?
Dealing with mean people can be challenging. We have many options including reacting with revenge, responding with grace, or simply ignoring them. After securing personal safety, I like the idea of taking the “high road” whenever possible. This means that one will not engage in any kind of revenge or retaliation. Gandhi said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth creates a blind and toothless world.” That’s not good!
When mean people evoke an emotion in us it might help to ask ourselves “why do we feel the way that we do?” We’ll often find that we’re taking their behavior personally, when it had little or nothing to do with us in the first place. For example, your boss may snap at you because she’s having a bad day. Her behavior is more about her inability to manage her own frustration. Gosh!
Though mean people anger us, they often deserve our pity. Evoking our empathy toward them can help diffuse hard feelings. This is a part of healthy emotional management not to mention building our own emotional intelligence including resilience. Emotional Intelligence skills in children have proven to help them be better at self soothing in difficult situations. They also excel in social settings requiring communication; cooperation and conflict resolution (click here for more information about emotional intelligence in kids). Note that evoking empathy and being nice doesn’t mean we have to be someone’s doormat. Sometimes it is necessary to create and convey parameters of how we would like to be treated.
Taking the high road is not always effortless but it can become easier when we are inspired. I was recently inspired by this beautiful anecdote and would like to share it with you. If you like it, you could share it with your kids.
When you have to put up with mean people, think of them as sandpaper.
They may scratch you and rub you the wrong way.
But eventually, you end up smooth and polished. And the sandpaper?
It will be worn out and ugly.
Well, what do you think? Would you rather be sandpaper or smooth and polished? Please leave us a comment and share some of your ideas about dealing with mean people.