Mean, arrogant, unpleasant people can be common as muck some days.
Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.
I believe most days and most people are pretty fabulous. Wonderful incidents, like strangers’ smiles, or knowing looks from other parents in the supermarket as kids ask curly questions. A call from a friend at the exact moment you were going to ring them, verifying the fact you are indeed cosmically and psychically connected. These fleeting flashes of fabulousness are all around us.
What about those jerks that just can’t be anything but mean, underhanded, bland, bullish, rude, self-serving or snotty?
They’re out there too. They lurk on our social media feeds and wait for us to have a bad run of luck so they can bask in our defeats, rather than choosing the healthier option of enjoying the good things that happen to the people around them. They talk about us behind our backs and waste their own energy conspiring against people, friends or foes, because that is just how they roll.
You can rise above this boorish behavior in so many ways if you just stay positive, patient and pleasant.
- Squash their misery with kindness
Whether the douchebag behavior is coming from a stranger, a colleague, fair weather friend, or even someone you really care about, you always have the power to choose how you respond to any encounter.
Personally, I have always found an awesome (or at the very least irritating to the perpetrator) way of managing someone who actively dislikes me or is being mean is to respond by being cheerful, smiley, joyful and jubilant.
Genuinely miserable people HATE that stuff, while people who are just having an off day can re-set in a better and more cheerful manner if they are faced with some genuine warmth and cheer.
Here’s the thing:
If you respond to unpleasantness by mirroring it and being a jerk back, you’ve established a cycle. It will often escalate, and that can end up being painful and damaging.
A lot of people will snap out of their grumpy funk if you respond with warmth to their jerky gibes, so I would definitely suggest you try this strategy first.
- Be brave
Do not let someone’s misery bring you down or make you feel small.
This is pretty hard to do sometimes, especially if the person imparting unpleasantness is in a position of power, someone you respect, or a friend or acquaintance that you normally enjoy dealing with.
If you are brave enough, carefully ask them if you’ve done something to offend, or if they realise that they are being gloomy, callous, arrogant, harsh etc.
If you are very brave indeed, look the person square in the eye and say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!” This somewhat obscure SNL quote from the 80’s may only confuse the culprit of crank, but it will make you feel better.
- Curve ball that … guy or gal… with an earnest query on how they are doing
Some people are just assholes. You can’t do much about them. Luckily people like that are VERY rare, and I think I have only met a dozen or so genuinely incurable pricks in my 36 years on this earth thus far.
I believe most people have good in them and are kind and rational. If you are being bombarded by badness, check in with the offender and offer a friendly inquiry on how they are feeling.
This works a treat with my mother in law. She’s one of my favourite people on the planet, but wowsers can she be mean. After over a decade of dealing with her delightful disposition, I have found that when she is really miserable, there is a reason. Asking her and letting her tell me in her time and her way works for us. Usually. Might work for you too.
- Walk away
Smile, and walk away. For a while or forever, depending on the severity and frequency of the episodes of douchebaggery or negativity.
I have a list the length of my arm of people who truly believe they are just too cool. You know, those: “Don’t you know who I am?” dickhead types. Well yes, I avoid them entirely if I can, and, due to the kind of work I choose to do and the kind of clients I choose, douchebags are indeed thin on the ground. Working with socially and environmentally sustainable causes means I get to hang out with thoughtful, kind, clever people. Some of them are a bit grumpy, but the grumpy types often soldier through and get things done, so lacking a bit of cheer is no problem when dealing with them.
If, however, you are dealing with a bully or a truly manipulative monster, sometimes you just have to throw your hands high in the air and say:
“This shit has gone too far, I’m out.”
Or, probably more socially acceptable wording would be something along the lines of:
“I’m worth more than this, so I’ll be taking my leave thanks.”
Try responding to negativity through interpretive dance, or perhaps sing your response to them.
Remember the “Carlton” dance from Fresh Prince? Yeah, I bust that out a lot when things get tense with people. There’s a real freedom being the kind of girl who most people already think is a bit nutty, and it means I am quite comfortable throwing randomness at awkward situations.
I find Wayne’s world, Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, Charlie Chaplin, Green Wing and a wide and eclectic catalogue of comedy classics to be a superior source of ideas for material.
There’s heaps of gems for you to store up and pull out when you need them. The Internets is all about this. Pinterest is a great source of thoughtful and pithy material as well.
- Never sink to their level
Like attracts like, so don’t seek out or sink to the level of seriously miserable people.
Do not take the bait. Do not believe the niggly and manipulative negativity that the haters are feeding you.
Dig deep and think about the people that Love and respect you.
If you lay down with dogs you get fleas. If you hang out with meanies you’ll be mean.
Often, the harder it is to be kind to someone, the more important that it is that you are.
Everyone has a story, and we are all fighting hard battles, so don’t be the person who strips positivity from other people’s days.
So when do you sink to paltry insults, mean spirited and snarky comments, or being an arrogant ass?
Never, never, never. And if you find yourself on the slippery slope of being a jerkface, I just hope you have friends that will call you out and get you back onto higher ground.
Have a great day.