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How to deal with mean people
January 11th, 2012
11:01 AM ET

How to deal with mean people

Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity: the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.

Not that long ago I was crossing the street with my daughter when a speeding car almost plowed us down.

“Hey! This is a crosswalk!” I yelled through the passing car’s open window.

“I don’t care!” The driver shot back.

Mean people, like vermin, have been around forever. But for some reason - maybe it’s the economic trials of these past few years - there seem to be more of them than there used to be. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: A 2010 National Civility Survey found that two out of three Americans believe civility is a major issue, and three in four believe the negative tenor in our country has grown worse over the past few years.

“When we talk about civility and good manners, we are not talking about which forks to use for salad - that’s etiquette,” says Dr. Pier Forni, director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins and author of "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude."

“Civility is about how we treat one another in everyday life and is closely related to ethics. The principle of respect for the person holds that we ought to treat others as an end in themselves, rather than as a means for the satisfaction of our own immediate needs and desires.”

I find myself nodding in agreement with Dr. Forni, but then I try to imagine repeating his words to the dude who almost ran us down in the crosswalk. I’m thinking that guy may not be convinced with an argument about the interplay between ethics and civility.

So why should we be nice if we don’t have to be?

The health benefits, for one. According to Forni, “Science tells us that when we engage in acts of civility and kindness, both the person on the giving end and the one on the receiving end benefit; it’s known as ‘helper’s high.’ Cascades of hormones and neurotransmitters activate when we are giving a token of our civility.”

Indeed, a slew of studies confirm that kinder people tend to live longer and lead healthier lives; volunteers have fewer aches and pains; and compassionate people are more likely to be healthier and successful.

Widespread incivility, on the other hand, can wreak havoc. Mean people, writes Stanford professor Robert Sutton, have “devastating effects, partly because nasty interactions have a far bigger impact on our moods than positive interactions - five times the punch.”

Says Sutton: “You have to overwhelm the negative with so much positive, it’s ridiculous!”

Moreover, due to a process called emotional contagion, the ripple effects of demeaning acts adversely affect coworkers, family members and friends who watch - or even just hear about - ugly incidents.

Sutton has written widely about the economic and social benefits of rooting out jerks from the workplace (except Dr. Sutton doesn’t call them jerks). His bestselling book is called "The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t."

Sutton distinguishes between occasional rudeness - of which everyone is more or less guilty - and certified jerks. His “Dirty Dozen” of common everyday actions that out a certified nasty person include: personal insults, invading one’s personal territory, uninvited physical contact, threats and intimidation (both verbal and nonverbal), sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems, withering email flames, status slaps intended to humiliate their victims, public shaming or status degradation rituals, rude interruptions, two-faced attacks, dirty looks, and treating people as if they are invisible.

Certified jerks display persistent patterns of these bad behaviors and have a long trail of victims. (Sutton has also developed a self-test called the ARSE, but I took it and I’m pretty sure it can be gamed.)

But why are people mean? Forni suggests a handful of root causes that may cover the entire spectrum of uncivilized behavior: lack of restraint; stress, illness or depression; anonymity; insecurity; lack of time; or a sense of entitlement.

“All of these factors can work together,” says Forni. “In traffic, for example, anonymity and stress work together. The first driver cuts off the second driver. Perhaps both are late and therefore anxious. They don’t think they know one another. And so they engage in some finger puppetry. But say one of the drivers suddenly recognizes the other as the pastor of his church. You will have an immediate effort to minimize what happened.”

According to Forni, anonymity also plays into uncivil behavior online: “You have this wonderful technological marvel that can improve our lives and yet it has become a dismal collector of the moral toxins of our society.” (Imagine Forni’s elegant turns of phrase spoken with a fabulous Italian accent.)

Ultimately, civility is about power - and character. “The difference between how a person treats the powerless versus the powerful is as good a measure of human character as I know,” writes Sutton.

Since nasty people are unavoidable in daily life, Sutton offers a few tips how to deal with them - and perhaps rebound more quickly from run-ins:

Stand up or develop indifference.

Sutton says that if you find yourself the victim of bad behavior, do a power analysis: “You can either address the problem directly, or you can exercise the fine art of emotional detachment. Can you take a picture of the jerk’s license plate and report him to the police? Is there a number on the side of his car you can call? If yes, fine. If not, then try to forget the incident as quickly as possible. There are times when things are beyond your control and the best thing for your mental health is not to give a damn. In those circumstances, find ways to engage in short-term denial.”

Reframe and change how you see things.

Attempt to reframe a run-in with a jerk in way that is less upsetting. “This is a kind of mini cognitive therapy,” says Sutton. If you can’t escape a stressor, you can reduce the damage by changing your mind-set about what’s happening.

“Develop a coping mechanism, if you must. Sometimes we are able to find delusions that serve us.”

Sutton offers a reframing example from a recent holiday meal, where a relative did something rude.

"Afterwards I was complaining to my wife and she turned to me and said: ‘I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want the 1% that was bad to ruin the 99% that was good.’ And then she left the room. It was surprisingly effective.”

Sutton cautions, however, that if you’re in a long-term situation that is bad every time, reframing will not make it go away.

Limit your exposure.

Avoid if you need to. For example, if you shop at the same place frequently, go out of your way to avoid the mean clerks. By limiting how often and intensely you face jerks, you create a buffer against their demeaning behavior.

In a work context, Sutton offers additional strategies, like building pockets of safety, support and sanity; and seeking and fighting battles that you have a good chance of winning.

Later, reflecting on Sutton’s strategies - stand your ground, detach, reframe and avoid - I am reminded of the oft-repeated meditation for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

And I add a little prayer of my own: “Please God, next time grant me a baseball bat for the car that almost ran my kid over.”


soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Omesh

    What a great article...a must read for everyone on today's working world. I shudder tot think what the world might be in 30 years from now....can it get any more worse?

    January 11, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bspurloc

      fear mongering and war create a very civil society.... thank u gop

      January 11, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Mouth

      I think the movie "Idiocracy" clearly outlines where we are headed.
      Mean people are not nearly as prevalent, or dangerous as stupid people.
      To make it worse, stupid people have the incentive and tendicies to breed more than normal.
      In the past, stupid people weeded themselves out by choosing the path of natural selection.
      Now they are being kept alive by hot coffee and sharp knife warnings.
      The world will be okay if everyone was mean. These dummies shooting bullets at the sky will be the end of us.

      January 11, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse |
    • James

      Yes, it can get worse.

      January 12, 2012 at 08:07 | Report abuse |
    • Kurtwuzmurdered

      simple solution...Buy a gun...
      Its time to then the heard people

      January 12, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    Once you get rid of your ego you won't be mean nor will you care if other people are mean to you.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pat

      Joe, that's one of the best comments I've heard in a while. Did you just make that up right there? Nice...

      January 11, 2012 at 21:38 | Report abuse |
    • johnkeating

      I agree, but how do you get rid of your ego? Is there a protocol one can follow to do this reliably.

      January 12, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
    • TT

      Really? Without an ego, there is no self

      January 12, 2012 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
  3. mental health

    More and more people have narcissistic personality disorder. They lack empathy. Look up the criteria- they have to have five- and you will see it clearly.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex

      How true indeed. I have been doing a lot of research into personality disorders, Narcissistic Personality Disorder in particular because I started recognizing the traits in my brother. After looking into it so deeply it is easy to see that many people I have come across in life fit the criteria perfectly. The saddest part is that there is really no way to change them, only the way you react to them.

      January 11, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • luv2livzen

      I agree! Their only concern is 'me, me, me'. Not the type I choose to be around. After meeting someone (work or other) I've been surprised how it doesn't take all that long for their true character to shine through: everything their way – thus people problems, a short fuse, what can someone do for 'me'?, not involved in doing for others or the environment, etc., as that's not benefitting them & it's not making them any money. Sure, they can be fun in a social setting – especially when they are funny. (they like to be the center of attention) They can be nasty & vindictive – in other words they have a low Emotional Intelligence.

      January 12, 2012 at 01:11 | Report abuse |
    • abby

      I concur. We are creating a nation of sociopaths.... how and why? I say poor and/or absent parenting, bad media messages, bad role models, etc.

      January 12, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
    • Joyce

      I work with a bunch of PhD's. Narcissism is rampant, and may in fact be a requirement.

      January 12, 2012 at 20:12 | Report abuse |
  4. Fruits of The Spirits

    To Ruin A mean person spirits here are the nine steps to take Gal 5:22)
    Love Them, Show Joy,Be at Peace, Ask for help with Longsuffering(pray)
    show kindness,Show goodness,put on faithfulness,gentleness, Most of all
    Show Self Control. Watch how confused they look Good always overcomes
    Evil.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jay

      You're an imbecile.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • Summer

      No Jay, you're a jerk. You fit the person this article is referring to perfectly.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • johnP

      Yes Fruits of the Spirit; You are so right. Paul also discribes a time when these fruits would no longer be present in most, which would take place just prior to the return of Jesus. To all of you who believe and are waiting for His return – stay strong, in may only be a little longer.

      January 11, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      aka suk it

      January 11, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • Filtered

      Interesting how many mean comments for this story.

      January 12, 2012 at 08:54 | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Unless the mean person is out to get you specifically, I think the best thing is avoidance. Also, when someone is being nasty or sarcastic to you, and you can't avoid them, very calmly letting them know that you will not tolerate them speaking to you in a sarcastic or disrespectful way. And look them in the eye. At some point in time, the a**holes will have to rely on someone else for something and people have long memories for this kind of thing. In the workplace, this works very well because your co-workers and or boss can see that you can stand up for yourself and can calmly handle this type of character. It definately worked for me.

      January 12, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
  5. Jay

    Her best approach was the baseball bat. Works every time.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • christina

      so i guess you are one of the "mean" people the article is referring to?!!?

      January 11, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • W W

      Wow Jay, I guess you are one of the people that need the bat taken to them. As the only cure you will find for your affliction is being one of the powerless and experiencing someone else's unfound abuse.
      Just a bit of the same 'medecine' you are spewing on this site.
      Did you take the test? If you were honest you may well find some enlightenment as to why others treat you the way they do.
      I pray you can become happier and help spread a little Love and Joy.
      If not, I pray you will at least stop attacking just because you are anonymous on the website.

      January 11, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • Mark9988

      Lack of restraint; anonymity; insecurity

      January 11, 2012 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
  6. SK

    In Toronto, Ontario everyone says "sorry" all the time whether they mean it or not. It works. I also notice that people hold the doors for each other. I don't hear constant honking on the streets.

    When I go Stateside, I can't wait to return to Canada.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      I'm sure most in the states are happy when you leave as well.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • NancyG

      Stay in Canada with the beavers

      January 11, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Why say stuff you don't mean? That is bizarre.

      January 11, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Such a generalized view. All Americans are rude? All Canadians are polite? Really?

      January 11, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • SimpleButTrue

      Try Vancouver and see if you feel the same way. (Oh, and don't mention the Stanley Cup.)

      January 11, 2012 at 19:40 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      It's like that all over Canada and I can't stand it. It's like we're aliens or something. And we form line-ups fuc*ing everywhere. Even in elevator lobbies now. We're living up to our stereotype of a bunch of boring irrelevant pus*ies.

      January 11, 2012 at 22:33 | Report abuse |
    • Matty Alou

      I've lived in both Canada and now in the States. I've found incredibly nice people everywhere I've lived and traveled, and incredibly boorish people too. I do know you will probably get better customer service in the States, and I find drivers are generally more courteous than Canadian drivers, but that's a generalization. I lived in Toronto for five years, and I don't remember seeing a whole heck of a lot of door holding. I could cite a divide between city and small town people, but then again, some of the nicest interactions I have had with strangers have been in downtown Boston.

      January 12, 2012 at 07:57 | Report abuse |
  7. Love it

    Great topic. Lots of layers here.

    So, basically, the person who benefits most from your kindness is...YOU! Reminds me of Hobbes, who said that man, at his core, is "solitary, nasty, brutish and short," but because it's in our own self interest, we created laws and government that help us live safely together.

    Note to "certified jerks": if you don't want to do it for altruistic reasons, do it because it is self-serving!!

    January 11, 2012 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lillian Carilo

    Why I chose, after several attempts to make amends (only to prove it was not worth the effort) to severe ties with my husband's entire family. ;

    January 11, 2012 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RP0405

      Amen, Sister.

      January 11, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • abby

      there is no reason to be around toxic people - even a preacher told me that....

      January 12, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
  9. Lillian Carilo

    My nugget of wisdom for my son when he started his first job: Don't be a jerk at work.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Joe

    I'm very polite. Usually. But in a certain interstate interchange entering my city, every morning, some commuters that think they're special, cut into traffic from one lane into the other lane, long after they should have. They hold up the people that were where they should have been in the first place, and hold me up, because my lane would also be moving faster if they hadn't been there in the first place. So, every morning that someone does that in front of me, they get a very long horn blast, and a finger, as I pass them.

    Makes me feel better!

    January 11, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Denny

      Joe, you drive the I-95/SR836 interchange in Miami too? Cubans, ain't they the best?

      January 11, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • rpatter

      Ha ha! You live in Nashville and drive into downtown on Ellington Pkwy every morning! You must. You have created a snapshot of what my commute is every day. I work at a very large organization so it's never safe to get too irate with the offending driver...because I've actually pulled into the parking garage and realized the driver is someone I have to work with daily. And let me tell you, their behavior behind the wheel says a lot about them!

      January 11, 2012 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • momoo828

      I know how you feel when it comes to that Joe. What I ended up doing was driving my 4X4 truck to work every day, which has the extended front bumper w/winch and rear bumper with the extend trailer hitch. Whenever I face drivers that you talk about on the interstate I do what I like to call “power merging”, which is very effective especially at night when my 6000K HID head and fog lamps are blazing into their rear and side view mirrors. My sister says that I am aggressive driver. But I am no more aggressive than the fool who has a cell phone plastered on their head right next to their blind spot and assumes that if they hit their turn signal while I am next to them I should see them and yield. I am of the opinion that those who are oblivious to others are only doing so until they are faced with the same oblivious behavior in their face. And I have no issue serving up a healthy menu on oblivious behavior to those who deserve it. And Eye for an Eye I say; it’s too easy.

      January 11, 2012 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
    • Inciteful

      If you've never seen it, watch the movie, "If I had a Million," starring W.C. Fields. You'll love it.

      January 12, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  11. Badonkadonk!

    Throughout time, 4ssholes are all over the place. There is an argument that claims that being an 4sshole is necessary to live, grow, and even procreate. The war of nature, or evolution, supports this. How does a guy get a girlfriend into bed? By being an 4sshole. Don't roll your eyes, you know it's true. The guy has to be an 4sshole to other guys in order to get the girl to himself. Once he's done so he needs to be an 4sshole toward her to get her to submit for intercourse. Furthermore, he'll have to be an 4sshole to his kids when their born so that they in turn learn how to be 4ssholes to others as they grow and ensure the next generation. This guy has to be an 4sshole at work in order to get the better paying job he thinks he deserves. Our politicians have to be 4ssholes to increase their influence and power. This article is by a whiney tart who should just give up at life.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really?

      How many men have you beat up to get your girl, or women have you slapped around to get them into bed? Come out of the dark ages and live in the here and now.

      January 11, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • TrughtHurts

      LOL! You're funny. I'd be willing to bet you had neither many girlfriends or decent jobs!

      January 11, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • jack murray

      Or you could read Ayn Rand, which trains all to be really big -holes.

      January 11, 2012 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Such a sad, pathetic world view. You have my sympathies.

      January 11, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Until one day the 4sshole runs into a kindly looking little old man with swarthy skin, a thick accent and a handgun with a silencer...

      January 12, 2012 at 08:08 | Report abuse |
  12. rad666

    Get and read "Verbal Judo" by George J. Thompson.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. James

    Good grief. We all know what to do with mean people. What we need is help in determining what is legal.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rpatter

      Giggle!

      January 11, 2012 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • Star

      Hee,hee. TOO TRUE & FUNNY!! LOL!!

      January 12, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
  14. Rein

    And then there are the 'experts' who will say to not keep things bottled up because that produces stress, heart disease(#1 cause of death), etc.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Flood

    !

    January 11, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Flood

    Rudeness in my everyday life has become my no 1 emotionally draining factor.

    I say "has become" because it always used to be present, but other things affected me more.

    Then decades went by, alot has been taken care of, but the one thing that remains, rudeness.

    When I mention it to my partner I simply say "people".

    I say I can't stand "people"... I say I want to move somewhere where I won't ever have to deal with them.

    She just nods. She knows what I'm talking about. She has the nerves to deal with it, and so we have tacit agreements that keep me away from "people".

    She answers the phone, the door. She calls for any of our bill issues when applicable. She goes to parent/teacher meetings. I tell her what I want to buy, she talks with the sales guy. We go to the restaurant, I tell her what I want, she orders it.... The list goes on and on.

    I gave up a long time ago. I just do not have the patience, character and speed of thought to deal with mean, rude people.

    Soon I will retire and I will be glad to be even more out of those people's way.

    I always smile, always say please, say thank you, help the old lady with her bags, hold the door.

    I will miss that though.

    Take the torch and pass it on yourselves if you have the guts.

    Cheers.

    Flood

    January 11, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Seriously, it sounds as if you need a psychological evaluation to learn some coping skills. What happens if your partner gets hit by a bus?

      January 11, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Also, if you were my partner, unless you were one stressful interaction away from a heart attack, I would not be enabling this. You realize you are creating a lot more work for HER, right? Unless she is stay-at-home and has time to pick up the slack, it shows a lack of consideration for your partner.

      January 11, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • Seattle's Best

      I am a lot like you. I have avoidant personality disorder and can't stand meanness. It eats me up inside. It's very difficult for me to leave my home. Social interactions are not exactly fun. I would rather be on an isolated island than in society. I'm definitely not a people person. However, I am nice. Don't get me wrong.

      January 11, 2012 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Flood

      @Seattle's Best
      Cheers.

      January 11, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      Newsflash; you are part of "the people". Discarding everyone on this planet as not being worth your time is pretty much a anti-social point of view in my opinion. It sounds unhealthy, if it is really how you feel then you may consider moving out of society or something.

      January 11, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
    • bsmith

      Excuse me, but do you sound rude, inconsiderate and violent. You are the type of person Dr. Forni is speaking of. I would not want to serve someone like yourself..

      January 12, 2012 at 08:48 | Report abuse |
  17. Johnny B

    If everyone was a little nicer to everyone else, the world would probably be a better place. Now that does not mean always turning the other cheek all the time, but every once in a while you need to lay down the napalm on the ***holes of the world.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. WMiller

    There are many reasons as to why people become mean and 99% cause their own problems. I know that when I look back on my life, and I am almost 61, I have caused my own problems. If I want to be mean, I go to my private and am mean with myself, then I read my Bible and ask Jesus to forgive myself, and you know what? He does and I become angry no more. We,all people, want to blame everybody and everything, including Jesus for our problems and we become very mean because we think the world is against us. In conclusion, if you do get mad at someone or some situation, DON'T GET MEAN WITH OTHER PEOPLE! they have nothing to do with it. In other words, Do on to others as you would want others to do on to you. If you are in a bad mood, GO BE BY YOUR SELF! W.E.M Go Be Nice and feel good about yourself, things mostly work out for the best.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. David crandall

    But if you are married to a mean person it is impossible to avoid that person. They will hurt you.

    January 11, 2012 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • momof2girls

      If you're married to a mean person, you can avoid them. It's called divorce.

      January 11, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
  20. WMiller

    There are many reasons as to why people become mean and 99% is caused their own them. I know that when I look back on my life, and I am almost 61, I have caused my own problems. If I want to be mean, I go to a private area, read my Bible, and ask Jesus to forgive me. We, all people, want to blame everybody and everything, including Jesus for our problems and become very mean thinking the world is against us. In conclusion, if you do become angry, DON'T BE MEAN WITH OTHER PEOPLE! they have nothing to do with it. Do on to others as you would want others to do on to you. Go out of your way and be nice, things usually work themselves out and you will get glad that you were not mean.

    January 11, 2012 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jeff

    You only have to look as far as this forum to see why civility towards others is just about nonexistent. Thanks to technology we don't have to physically interact with one another anymore. If people could work at home I think a large majority would never leave home as any and everything you need can be purchased on-line and delivered to your door. Sad but true I only know one of my neighbors and it's not from the lack of trying. My friends and I joke in class that the world is becoming one like the world portrayed in the movie Wal-E where everyone rides around on their fat chairs with a computer screen in their face. I do my part when I'm out running to wave or speak to everyone I see and you can see it just annoys the hell out of some people to acknowledge a greeting. Until everyone makes just a little effort to be kind to others this is the type of world we will exist in.

    January 11, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. D

    I am in a job where I sometimes have to deal with rude and abusive customers. I also get to determine when I take my breaks. Last weekend, after a doozy of a customer, I decided immediately afterward to take one of my breaks. Had a little coffee cake-the "time out" really helped!

    January 11, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. jack murray

    A good article with some good advice, but I could not help thinking that the advice borders being passive-aggressive.

    January 11, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. bshore

    One more thing. Realize and enjoy the fact that the mean person will one day run into someone as mean (if not more so) as them. They will not like it.

    January 11, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. WDinDallas

    self-centered b1tch.

    January 11, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. amac

    Let go of your ego and nothing short of a physical assault can harm you.

    January 11, 2012 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Bill

    Mean people are why I own a Glock.

    January 11, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Fuyuko

    My advice? Grow a thicker skin. People can only be 'mean' to you if you let it bother you. The mean guy in the street? What did you expect the guy to say. Obviously he didn't care that they were crossing, since he was going through the crosswalk and not yielding. You already knew he was a bad guy who didn't care about you, and was breaking the law. He didn't care. Why be hurt or offended about such people? There are plenty who do care and go out of their way to make you happy. Leave the losers to thier misery.

    January 11, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. bspurloc

    it started to snowball when fox news was let loose on the free world.... so much hate is spewed from that propaganda machine

    January 11, 2012 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Leaf on the Wind

    That serenity prayer has a short version: "fu@k it".

    Seen on a lapel button: "Shut up and let me practice my people skills."

    "Resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die." - Carrie Fisher

    I learned long ago that the best way to recover from an encounter with a mean person is to quickly do or say something nice to someone else. It makes you feel good, and the negativity or anger brought on by the mean person won't survive that good feeling. Try it.

    January 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Almost forgot, seen on a sign outside a church, a message from the pastor: "Forgive your enemies. It messes with their heads."

      January 11, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • cmh

      I like those quotes!

      January 11, 2012 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
  31. Shawn

    So what I gathered from this is that people should just tuck their tail between their legs and remain the sheep that they are. You want to know why people are mean? Because rarely will someone confront them so their behavior is allowed to go on unchecked.

    January 11, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HC

      1) Don't sweat the small stuff.

      2) It's all small stuff.

      January 12, 2012 at 07:01 | Report abuse |
  32. Skyler

    Its hardly being passive. Its just not being mean. Knowing when to let trivial things go. You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control how it effects you.
    And to work to be kind to everyone around you. Just makes the world a more positive place to exist in.

    January 11, 2012 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. amarjeet

    All killer vehicles must be given liberty to pass first instead of fighting for your right. Old saying “God is near or Fist” holds well. If speeding car is coming, better to give way. I remember in Delhi in 1970 one Biker came from behind me & asked with great horn noise for way which I gave readily & he drove behind the city bus. As soon city bus slowed to turn left to the other road, this biker dashed under the bus from behind & died with just one scream & leaving behind a mark of little blood flowing out of the mouth. You will always & everywhere see stupid & preoccupied people and it is better to conduct yourself safe on high speed freeways or streets.

    January 11, 2012 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. GoodTimes88

    I think everyone is on edge because of the poor economy. We need a rich Republican president who knows money and how to fix the economy, that's why we need Mitt Romney for president. If we don't change our current situation it's just gonna get worse. Who cares if he's Mormom, he's a proven leader with an M.B.A. and a Law degree from Harvard. He's a smart honest guy who is estimated to have a net worth of over 250 million! Mitt Romney knows money and surely knows how to fix the economy!

    January 11, 2012 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. magneticink

    How to deal with mean people... Hit them in the face with an ax?

    January 11, 2012 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Teararound

    When I was a student nurse, one of the teachers said that we were not going to feel good every day, sometimes we would be sad, in pain, disgruntled or actually not like the person we would be dealing with but we should put on a smile at the beginning of the day and somehow we would feel better. We would be able to deal with difficult people who may be depressed, sad, overworked, hurried, lonely or mean or in pain. They might actually feel better after dealing with us. That was 55 years ago and I have seen it work many times. The smile does not always start out real, but becomes real.

    January 11, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Neddy

    Two words: Reality Television

    January 11, 2012 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. BC

    I thought this is what iPhones and iPads are all about, to just ignore, avoid, and reprocess, all the daily BS. Naturally once you get into that mode, the difficult part is, how to socialize again, yet avoid the rudeness?

    January 11, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Don

    If you have had a bad day due the rudeness or meaness of another, toss it aside, as you would dirty underwear into a close hamper. After all, what's it all going to matter in 50 years anyway!

    January 11, 2012 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Lex

    I'm all for being the bigger person, but there's also the issue of standing up for one's self. Maybe the driver and the crosswalk incident can be forgotten, but what about rude people you have to encounter everyday? Why should you let them alter your day, or ruin it? What kind of example does the set for children? Rude coworkers or other people you meet day to day is a form of adult bullying, and one should stand up for himself while being the bigger person at the same time. No, don't throw punches everytime your brother-in-law berates your job, but confront him about it, rather than "limiting your exposure," as this article would have you do.

    January 12, 2012 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • karrie pittsburgh

      I agree. Wholeheartedly.

      January 12, 2012 at 06:34 | Report abuse |
  41. AnnieMae

    How about a sibling who had a key to my house to feed my cat while I was on vacation, decided to clean and hang the rags and paper towels she used all over my house to show me and my kids upon arriving back home how dirty my home was?

    January 12, 2012 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • holy cow

      Think of it as a free house cleaning.

      January 12, 2012 at 08:42 | Report abuse |
    • AnnieMae

      Its just an example of how mean people can take what would have been a nice gesture from someone else and load all their passive agressiveness into it. It was meant to be seen as we walked in the door with all our luggage. They count on being "family" to get away with stuff like that.

      January 12, 2012 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
  42. docdewitt

    What a strange and peverted prayer with which to end this rant, wishing for a baseball bat. I am agnostic, and find that my fellow non-believers are not nearly as sadistic as this chick. Ouch.Well, according to her own article, she will die early as a mean person. HAppy heaven!

    January 12, 2012 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. docdewitt

    One thing to keep in mind is that you really never want to give someone who is a jerk control of your happiness. Let those you love control is somewhat, but not the mean-folk. Words from Pastor Rick Stieve, in Frankfort , MI. Good job pastor Rick

    January 12, 2012 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Mark

    bspurloc
    – three ididic comments. Going for a record?

    January 12, 2012 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Rev.Christie Bliss Ley

    Trying to stay detached when someone is in your face rude or nasty can be difficult, especially if you are of a sensitive nature.. Being very polite and kind back at them makes one feel better and helps to nullify their words, Might also help change their mood.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. hoobie

    You can't change other people's behavior, you can only change your own. If you want to live a civil life, do it, even if those around you do not.

    When you encounter someone acting civilly, even though they had the choice to do otherwise, acknowledge and thank them. Nothing is more irritating to a mean person than the power of a good example.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. BigDaddy

    We live in a time very stressful. We do things sometimes with out thinking. You may not agree but maybe the guy who almost hit you and your child got to thinking just how rude and danagerous his actions were. Maybe he is making up for rudness but helping some one else. yes i could be wrong but to me the glass is half full to others it is half empty. We all have bad days lets help each other thru it. the will be a better place.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. abby

    I have seen a deterioration of civility and manners over time. Television condones and encourages bad behavior (look at what is considered "funny" on a sitcom). Parents are not instilling virtues of any sort in their children; it's all me, me, me and instant gratification. Politicians are no longer statesmen but mudslingers and mean-spirited in their manners and speech.

    Sad, isn't it?

    When I am a business and an employee is rude or even worse mean-spirited, I let a manager know. When an employee is polite, helpful, etc. I also let the manager know. I will write a letter to let a manager know about a particular good or bad experience. One of my letters actually helped an employee get promoted. However, if management seems indifferent to the employees bad behavior and words, if possible, I refuse to patronize the business.

    As it is, due to the economy today, management is paying attention to what their customers say.

    As for people out in public who act or speak boorishly, in an uncivil, mean-spirited manner - avoid them....

    as Ron White says "you can't fix stupid."

    January 12, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Relictus

      When mean people are in a store, and the employees are less than thrilled, the mean people will tell a manager that the employee was rude.

      January 12, 2012 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
  49. Maverick2591b

    How do you deal with mean people? Spit at their feet, turn, and walk off. That is the lowest form of insult.

    January 12, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Relictus

    TL;DR. Got so far into it, jumped ship and swam for shore.

    January 12, 2012 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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