4 Ways to Deal with Mean People

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What comes into your mind when you hear the words ‘mean person’? For some, the memories of the mean kids who used to bully them at school will resurface. Or maybe, the recent memories of the mean comments that can easily be found on some famous people’s social media comes to your mind. Well, mean people do exist too in our real life now, it might be a neighbour, classmate, or anyone.

Mean people make our lives harder. They add negative emotional baggage to our lives. When we commit the wrong approach to deal with them, it can lead to fights that may damage our mental health even more. In this article we will explore some healthy ways to deal with mean people:

1. Acknowledge Your Emotion and Delay Your Reaction

Their words and actions are hurtful. It’s a fact. We feel sad and get hurt from receiving bad words or being harshly treated. Some people choose the ‘avoidant way’ in dealing with their emotion by not acknowledging the negative emotions they’re experiencing and pretend that they’re okay. This emotional avoidance might cause a pile-up of emotion that leads to emotional outburst later. So, just allow yourself to feel sad, hurt, angry, or disappointed. It’s perfectly okay.

After we acknowledge our emotions, use our time to understand the situation and calm ourselves. Don’t react immediately, silence is the best response when you’re still in shock with the mean behaviour.

The Prophet ﷺ said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.”

(Al-Musnad 1/329)

Take your time to assess your surroundings first, some people react quickly that might cause injury to their own selves. Assessing your surroundings will help you to regain consciousness that helps you avoid doing illogical things. The most effective way to calm ourselves is by doing dhikr. Say istighfar repeatedly. Doing dhikr means we ask Allah for guidance to help us to overcome the hurtful situations. Dhikr will also bring peace and serenity to our hearts and minds.

2. Understand That Not All Opinions Are Valid or Important

Mean people love to say mean comments. Mean comments are often a form of criticism. However, criticism can be good or bad. Criticism, especially the constructive ones, are an important part of our growth. When we receive the hurtful comments, we need to think about it in an objective way. For example, when someone gives hurtful comments at the chocolate pudding Aisha made for a fundraiser event at her local Masjid. This mean person said, “Who made the chocolate pudding? It’s Aisha, right? It tastes gross, she doesn’t know how to bake. Why did she even volunteer to bake this?”

What should Aisha do? First of all, she must seek the very valid opinion of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala first. Is volunteering for a fundraiser a sin? Of course no, so Aisha has made the right choice by making the chocolate pudding.

Secondly, does Aisha know how to bake? Well, Aisha is not the best baker in her town but she loves to bake and she is a fast learner. She actually had chosen a great recipe, used good ingredients, and followed all the steps. Aisha had tried her best to make a good chocolate pudding. So there’s nothing wrong in the process.

Thirdly, does the pudding really taste gross? Like what the mean person said? Aisha has tasted the pudding herself and she thought it is delicious. Well, to know the real taste of the pudding, Aisha had to ask other people. Most people said that it’s delicious. Some people said that it’s a little bit too sweet, but it’s not a big problem. In summary, this is a good action, done by the right process, and the end result is good according to the majority.

Is the mean comment valid then? It’s NOT. The pudding might be too sweet, but a dessert is sweet by default. The mean comment only reflects the person who only focused on the negative side of things. And the comment does not define Aisha as a bad baker. When other people are focusing on the positive things such as how kind Aisha is to volunteer at the event or how skilful Aisha is to try a new recipe, the mean person only looks for the mistake and exaggerated it.

For Aisha, the criticism can be taken a suggestion for her to decrease the amount of sugar in her pudding a little bit. But a small mistake does not decrease Aisha’s worthiness at all. Aisha will feel the pain of receiving mean comments about her chocolate pudding. However, with the right mindset, Aisha could turn this mean comment to fix her small mistake which in turn will help her to be a better baker. This is the exact opposite of what the mean person expected. Mean people want their victim to feel miserable and fail. If we turn the pain from their words into power to ourselves, they get the sin and we win.

3. Choose Calmness and Kindness

Avenging mean people seems like a good option. But remember, revenge usually will lead us to do more harm than good. We know how Rasulullah ﷺ chose to stay calm and refused to take revenge on the people who were mean to him. When we do bad things to the mean people, it means that we’re no different than them in following the path of shaytaan. Moreover, mean people love getting attention. Having a fight with them means that we’re feeding their ego which are hungry over attention and feuds. A feud with mean people means that we receive more mean comments and mean actions from them that definitely can affect our emotional health negatively.

Even when we need to stand up for ourselves by telling them that we’re not comfortable with their actions. Just say the words firmly yet politely and excuse ourselves before any further conversations taken place because this might lead to arguments. Avoid fights and choose kindness instead. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better, and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion [of good].” (Surah Fussilat : 34-35)

Do not lose our dignity just to fight someone else’s immaturity. Better use our energy for other positive things. Our time and energy are too precious to be spent on senseless fights. In higher level, you can basically counteract their mean actions with real kindness. With a smile, warm words, and helpful actions. Hopefully, this kindness will inspire them to stop being mean and start to radiate kindness too.

4. Avoid the Negative People

There is a very popular method within the minimalism culture which is called ‘KonMari Method’. This method basically teaches us to live a more simplistic and meaningful life by getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t spark joy anymore to us. While this method focused on physical stuff, this method can be somewhat applied to our social life too. While Islam highly emphasizes the importance of preserving relationships, especially with our family and relatives, there are some people which do more harm than good when we often interact with them. A decrease in interaction will hopefully repair the relationship and prevent future negative behaviours.

Avoid the people who only bring negative influence in you. Those who constantly judge and make you feel down are among the toxic people who should be avoided. This doesn’t mean that we cut off all of our relationships with them permanently. When you meet them at work or at school, just say salaam, do light conversation, but avoid further interaction. You can continue having closer relationships with them if there is a personality growth you see from them.

How if these people are those who are close to us? Such as our classmates, boss, co-workers, etc. Well, this will be harder, but with these close people, avoid getting into conversation or action that will lead them to act negatively. Always be polite and kind but staying away from these mean people will minimize unwanted negative encounters and hopefully make them realize how disturbing their behaviour actually is and inspire them to transform themselves to be better.

May Allah ‘azza wa jal prevent us from being mean people and may He safeguard us from the bad behaviour of the mean people. Do you have any other tips on dealing with mean people? Let us know in the comments below!

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