One Happy

Create Intentional Happiness

Why ya gotta be so mean?

Managing Meanies

Why ya gotta be so mean to me? How often have you asked this question when someone is mean to you? Whether it is in the form of an ugly response, offensive comments, lack of cooperation, or unfair treatment, there have always been and will always be mean people who disrespect you or you ideas. Sometimes they just seem to be bent on destroying your success by undermining your every effort.

The problem with this is, mean people can sabotage your whole day, induce stress, and negatively affect your health.  Our usual first response – especially when people are habitually and repeatedly mean – is to become angry. Some of the side effects of anger are headache, digestion problems, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and even heart attack. The physical symptoms compound as we dwell on their actions or think about how we can get back at them. Avoiding mean people might work for a while, but we if we are in a situation where we must interact with them on a daily basis, this strategy can be impractical.

Haters hate and meanies manipulate as they methodically work to bring us down to their level of unhappiness. After all, why should you be so happy when they are not? Mean people may be hurting on the inside, unhappy with themselves, have low self-esteem or be experiencing personal problems.  Their meanness may be malicious and intentionally hurtful or unintentional and as a result of poor communication methods.

To be fair to meanies, sometimes they are genuinely trying to “help.”  Unfortunately, despite their good intentions, they may be perceived as self-righteously projecting their values, morals, and opinions on unwilling subjects in ineffective or overbearing ways.

If we focus solely on revenge, and we attempt to counter their meanness, we may get so embroiled in our anger and hurt we can’t focus on anything else. As a result, we may take actions that are not in our best interest. At this point we have let them control our life. As we plot our revenge, we miss out on opportunities for Happy Places in our lives. Score a point for the meanie.


First, take a deep breath and relax. Accept what you are feeling.  Remember that you, and only you, have control over your responses.  Their actions are a reflection of their motives, values, and morals. Your response is a reflection of yours.

Recognize that the meanness you experience from others is more about the mean person than about you. The less you personalize it, the less impact it will have on you.

See meanies for what they may really be – insecure, feeling threatened, discontented, or probably suffering from low self-esteem.  Sometimes meanies just want to control other people because they feel they have no control over their own life.  Don’t be fooled. Meanies may appear to be confident, in control, and in charge, but it may be just an effort to cover up their insecurities.

To avoid misunderstanding or possibly diffuse the situation, one of the most important questions we can ask a meanie, is, “What do you mean by that?” The meaning you give to a word or statement may not be the meaning they have for the same word or statement. Also, challenging them to clarify and explain themselves may cause them to think more carefully about their words and actions.

Killing them with kindness is a sure way to get their attention.  Act and talk in a way that is extremely kind or helpful instead of returning the insult. This will cause them discomfort and possibly help the meanie realize how nasty they have acted.

Take the high road. When someone has wronged you, you can “take the low road” and seek revenge, or you can “take the high road” by not letting your emotions overtake your beliefs, and drive an ineffective response. This is your strength and your power. This is not about the other person or situation. It is about you.

Rise above it, shift your perspective.  When people get too caught up in the details of a problem, emotions take over, and arguments only cause you to defend your position more.


Why is this a problem for me?  Is it emotional? Are you hurt and feel like lashing out, or is this a problem you want to solve? Move out of emotional into reasonable. Rationally establish why this is a problem for you. Set standards for yourself – boundaries. Know who you are, what you want, what you are willing to say yes to, and what you will not accept.  Be brutally honest with yourself. Respect yourself.

What do I want the outcome to be? Identify your ideal solution. What do your want to accomplish in this situation, and what is the best way to get the results you want. Your goal is to respond with positive intention.  There are three basic perceptual positions:

  1. mine,
  2. yours, and
  3. objective others.

Mine and yours are emotionally charged stances people take when they look at a problem. Objective others are usually emotionally detached, the voice of reason and unbiased. Objective others have no skin in the game, so to speak.

Close your eyes and put yourself in #two’s position to understand their motives.  Then put yourself in an unbiased position to look for a win-win solution by removing negative emotions, and focusing on creative options that meet your desired outcome.

Remember, happiness is a beautiful journey. Life has many valuable lessons along the way.  Maybe the meanies are put in our path to teach us how not to be.

As a last bit of advice, disagreements are best dealt with face-to-face with a win-win intention.

How do you deal with meanies and haters?

Leave a Reply