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How to deal with mean spirited people in the moment

Part of self improvement and a better life is to stand up for yourself. It’s hard to balance between being a decent human being (you know minding your own business, letting everyone do their own thing) and being a down right bitch when you’re being walked all over. I truly believe in killing people with kindness I really do. I think it’s the high road to take. No one gets further hurt and it’s cleaner than revenge or fighting back. And it really screws them up.

I have a master’s degree of science in applied behaviour analysis – which is basically the study of behavior and how it interacts with the environment. I have learned and practiced many different methods on how to change behaviour. More often than not a successful program requires an element of “extinction“ (which is the withholding of previous reinforcement for a behaviour). In simpler terms it means not giving the person what they want. Most times (the behaviour analyst in me is covering my ass here because you can’t say for certain why a behaviour occurs without a proper assessment) when someone is being mean or disrespectful it is an act of attention seeking behaviour. So by responding to them with more fuel for their fire (acts of revenge, mean words, gossiping etc.) you’re giving them exactly what they want! Which will only encourage their behavior. It will make the behaviour more resilient to change. So if someone disrespects you or is mean spirited to you, brush it off. Mean women (and men) are a common annoyance. And there are a couple things you can do in the short term:

  1. Maintain your chill! Keep it calm, don’t react – respond. Take your time to let it cool down.

  2. Don’t reinforce their behaviour by giving them then negative attention they’re seeking. Kill them with kindness or better yet, kill them with silence. Ignore it. Move on.

  3. Remind yourself; their behaviour is a reflection of who they are as a person, not of you. Remember who you are and who you are proud to be. Be that person.

  4. Focus your attention onto something else. If you’re like me, you have moments of weakness where you obsess about something that’s bothering you. Find something in the here and now.

I leave you with a quote about being disrespectful to reflect upon.

“Unless someone has done something really bad to you, there is no reason to show disrespect to anyone. If a person disrespects you, and you haven’t done anything to them, realize they have a serious problem. Narcissists and toxic people often feel ‘entitled’ to be disrespectful just because they are angry, insecure, or dislike you. Disrespect is a sign of emotional immaturity and is abusive and should never be excused or tolerated.” – unknown

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