It may be a co-worker who seems to get joy out of tearing down your ideas. Or it may be a church member who refuses to do something as simple as shake your hand, smile, and say “hello.”
Mean people – people who tear you down as a way of getting what they want – can influence your being angry, depressed, or fearful, instead of experiencing the peace and joy that God wants for His people.
This article is based on my book, Mean People: A Step-by-Step Christian Plan for Dealing With Mean and Nasty People (click here or go to http://amzn.to/2da0Evo). The following are seven things to remember when dealing with mean people:
1. Accept that you cannot change a mean person. Think about how no one can change you, nor do you want anyone to try to change you. In like manner, the mean people who you deal with feel similarly. Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement.
It simply means that you know that “it is what it is, until it changes.” Accept the fact that some people are normally mean, and after your best efforts, they may still be mean.
2. Mean people have their reasons for being mean. Here are three of the six motives that I discuss in my book about why mean people are so mean. First, the mean person is often a hurt person. They have been a recipient of meanness and they are now protecting themselves from being hurt again, in the best way that they know how.
Second, the mean person has not been properly nurtured. Unloving parents and caregivers for children often plant the seeds that grow into unloving and mean people. And third, the mean person doesn’t feel good about themselves. The smaller they see themselves and the more of a threat that they see you being to their small selves, the meaner they can be towards you.
3. Replace unhealthy thoughts with those that are healthier. Some people settle for either being a victim of mean people or they lower themselves to trying to be mean like the mean person. Instead of these options, try seeing yourself as a winner who doesn’t have to stoop to being mean.
Think about how you would respond to a mentally ill person cursing at you. I would hope that you would not curse the mentally ill person out, nor would you spend days and weeks thinking about the embarrassment and pain caused by the event. Mean people have a form of illness.
Instead of trying to figure a person out, remember that there are times when people simply choose to do wrong. They do not suffer from neurosis - excessive anxiety and guilt that prevents them from healthy decision-making. They suffer from a sinful character.
4. Avoid treating everyone like the enemy. On one hand, you have to be careful around mean people. You cannot share your dreams and fears with everyone. But on the other hand, everyone is not your enemy and out to get you. In an overreaction to mean people, you can end up blocking them and everybody else out. It is good to stop listening to them. But it is bad to stop listening to everybody.
5. Be strong. You cannot change a mean person. And taking responsibility for pleasing them, in spite of the harm that they cause you, is not sustainable. Brace yourself for a great deal of resistance. Courageously trust passages like Romans 8:28, which states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
When you are getting weak, remember the Inspiration From Psalm 23 Package (click here or go to http://bit.ly/2cO187B). It will encourage you to be strong, as you go through dangerous valleys to get to your green pastures.
6. Negotiate win-win situations. As you interact with the mean person, always try to broker a win-win situation. Work on genuinely saying things like, “I understand that you want ---, right? I want ----. Let’s try to find a third way, flip a coin, or a “your turn and then my turn” approach. The following are some helpful passages of scripture to keep in mind:
- Romans 12:21 --- “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
- James 1:19-20 --- “19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
- Romans 12:18 --- “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
7. Fight off their tactics. Here are some tips from the nine tactics that I talk about in the book regarding how mean people get under your skin. Fight off their rushing you to make a decision. One of the popular tactics of nasty people is to rush their victim into making decisions, before they have taken a proper amount of time to consider the issues at hand.
Learn how to communicate the following: “I understand what you want me to do, but your -- (anger, rushing me, crying, etc.) -- is not going to be effective. I will get back with you on this, after I have considered the matter.” This is often a good time to walk away, if it is a work environment that allows such.
If you cannot walk away, it is a good time to change the subject. Fight off assumption statements. Mean people don’t like to ask questions, because they lose control of the conversation. They say stuff that essentially means that they can read your mind and intentions. Don’t chase after their assumptions.
Well, there are seven keys for dealing with mean people. There is so much more information in the book, including how to develop a customized step-by-step Christian plan for applying the information to your life. To see the book, click here or go to http://amzn.to/2da0Evo.
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