Rude, obnoxious people are like unpredictable thunderstorms. Running and Screaming in the other direction isn’t just my first impulse, it’s my first, middle, and last impulse.
As I’ve said before, I always welcome topic suggestions on my self help blog. I even have a contact form on my mental fitness website where readers suggest subjects they’re interested in “hashing out.” After all, if I’m going to talk (cue my husband, “She most definitely is going to talk.“), I’d rather talk about what YOU want to talk about than what I want to talk about.
Anyway, a recent subject brought up in my e-mail was this: “How do YOU deal with obnoxious, mean-spirited, and generally unpleasant people?” I replied that my first response was AVOID THEM LIKE SNAKES IN THE GRASS! Naturally, that’s not always possible, so we simply have to out-class, out-smart, and out-pleasant them… which, fortunately, is never very hard.
My new e-mail friend (bless her) works with the public and sees humanity on parade each day. She tells me that, at work, she knows how she has to deal with difficult people: She has to smile, be courteous, and try to resolve the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible. Her real problem was people who aren’t her customers (co-workers, neighbors, etc.).
Just as she and I were about 4 e-mails deep in our discussion about difficult people, I got another message from someone else asking if I’d ever had to deal with “jerks” online. When I stopped rolling on the floor, laughing, I replied that I’ve seen enough “jerks” online to populate a small country. One I’d never want to visit, I might add! This individual was tired of rude comments left on Facebook and Twitter from people who don’t even have enough guts to use their name. You know the ones – the spell checkers, grammar police, and general know-it-alls. The people who serve no real purpose in the world and never actually help anyone or anything.
Apparently this person (I honestly couldn’t tell from the name if they were male or female – it could go either way. I love the name, though, and plan to use it on my next cat) had ran into some of these online cesspools of negativity. They’d made the mistake of trying to reason with them. Never. Do. That. They simply aren’t worth your time.
Here’s my personal routine for handling these characters: I smile (because I’m not them), I keep singing along with whatever song I’m listening to at the moment (without missing a beat), then I delete every proof that they ever existed in my world (they’re toxic).
When it comes to dealing with negative, difficult people, I think the most important thing to realize is this: They’re the ones with the problem, not you. Plus, as I’ve often told my daughters when they’re dealing with hateful people: To a certain extent, you kind of have to feel sorry for them. After all, how much bitterness, anger, negativity, and downright misery must lie within them for them to be so disagreeable?
Difficult and negative people entertain difficult and negative thoughts. That’s where it all starts. If they’d learn to cultivate positive, helpful, and generally pleasant thoughts, they’d cease to be snakes in the grass and they’d find more people gravitating TO them instead of running away FROM them.
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious. – Bill Meyer
Most of the time, the most miserable people you know are, indeed, the most miserable people you know. If they behave in a miserable way, chances are the action springs from a miserable inner pool. If they mean something to you, I’d suggest trying to find ways to help them be happier. If you have to be around them any time at all, you’ll benefit from it at least as much as they will. Try to avoid confrontations and do all that’s within you to keep conversations cordial and positive. Arguing with difficult people only brings you down to their level and, in many ways, allows them to win. They were able to ruin your day and, for a period of time, make you as miserable as them.
Refuse to give them that!
Simply ask them, “Is there anything bothering you? Anything I can help you with?” The funny thing is, very often JUST the words alone will snap them out of their ugly mood.
Negativity is a very real, tangible, and hurtful thing. My husband once spent a few days with a colleague – on a golf trip. When he got back home, he nearly threw himself into our house. I watched as he, literally, tried to “shake off” the experience. The other man was, apparently, one of those people who is never, ever satisfied. He complained about this, he complained about that… and when he got through, he complained about complaining. The negativity was so thick, I suspect my husband found it hard to breathe!
Dealing with difficult people is tricky, make no mistake about it, and only you know for certain how to handle your own personal Oscar the Grouch. However, since you are the person I’m worried about here, as opposed to O.T.G., I want to look out for you. Below are the top 3 things to remember when handling the negative and rude crowd:
- Realize that THEY are the ones with the personality problem, not you. They’re the one with so much negativity inside that it’s oozing outside. Get away before it gets on you.
- Don’t mirror them by sinking down to their level. You should never mirror anyone, of course, but if you ever DO try someone else’s “look” on, make sure it’s attractive. Why’d you want to be ugly too?!?!
- Never allow anyone to rob you of your happiness. They say misery loves company. Just because the invitation’s sent doesn’t mean you have to accept!
What are your ways for dealing with difficult and/or negative people?!
Something for Human Spell Checks (and Grammar Checks) to Keep in Mind:
More times than not the individual you’re trying to “call out” is at least as intelligent as you. More times than not, they know very well how to spell the word in question. Even if they did not, berating them or trying to come across as their superior does nothing for them OR you. The individual who made the error could have been sick at the time or they could have recently lost a loved one, for that matter. Having said that, they may have made a good, old-fashioned spelling error! Human mistakes are something we all make, you included. Instead of stepping on someone in an effort to make yourself feel bigger, why not spend a little quality time with yourself and figure out why you can’t stand tall on your own two feet.