How do YOU handle mean people?

3 ways to deal with mean people

Mean people are people too! But that doesn

They are everywhere, aren't they?  People who are snappy, short-tempered, rude, and just plain mean.  In a perfect world, everyone would be nice, kind, patient, and good listeners. But, we obviously don't live in a perfect world. So, how do you handle the mean ones? Before I give you some suggestions on how to handle the mean people out there, let me share with you one thing that my brilliant husband told me about mean people.  Yves doesn't have a mean bone in his body, so I loved his answer on this topic. He said that mean people are in pain. When I remember that one point, I can handle the mean people of the world much better.  With that, here are three ideas that work for me. 

1. Stop.  Don't react. Don't feed into their meaness with retaliation, revenge, or fighting words.  Just stop.  For one second, imagine that they are not like this all the time – maybe something horrible has just happened to them and you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

2. Repsond with love.  I know, I know, this one is so positive-polly. But, it's a universal truth that love can concur so much more than hate.  So, respond with love.  Maybe it's an understanding nod, a warm comment, a silent prayer that their day gets better.  Even an acknowledgement could be in order here – 'Wow – you must be having a pretty rough day'.  Sometimes, a loving word or comment can get the meanest person to melt their frozen heart. I can't guarantee it works every time, but try it!

3. Make something up about their childhood.  I know this one sounds crazy, but it works.  When I speak on conflict-resolution and dealing with difficult people, I offer to my audiences that when all else fails, and people are still difficult, then make something up!  The more crazy and horrific, the better. That way, you don't have to go toe-to-toe with the mean person, you can just silently feel sorry for the horrible way they were raised and suddenly you feel so grateful that you have class, manners, and hope for more kindness in the world.

Then, walk away.

From your happy to walk vs. fight against the mean girls of the world motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. Great advice Marilyn!  My ah-ha moment on this one was when I used to work in a nutritionist's office.  Most of the new clients were short-tempered, gruff, pushy or downright mean. Ah, but after they followed whatever advice or program the nutritionist put them on they became SO much nicer because THEY PHYSICALLY FELT BETTER!  So now whenever I come across an "old crank" I jump right to the assumption that they're sick and feel horrible.  It's much easier to respond with love then!  Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I just love Yves. And he's right. As Linda Larsen says, "Everybody has a story that will break your heart."  I also try to look at mean people with those glasses – the glasses that blame their meanness on something broken inside of them. And this allows me to have compassion for them, rather than seek vengeance. Sometimes it's really hard. Sometimes people just thrive on being pissy. So sometimes, I just have to walk away. No glasses. No story. Just move on.

  3. Ah yes, Marilyn. I particularly love the last one. Make stuff up – and it doesn't even have to do with their childhood. It's REALLY fun is to make up funny stuff. Like someone who is cutting you off in traffic: "Awwww. Look. He must have be having a bathroom emergency." 

  4. Truth. Truth. Truth. Yves knows what he's talking about! When I did a chunk of healing I went back to see myself as a vulnerable little girl who was hurting. This exercise is what I choose to remember when others are a royal pain. They, too, are just little people in big bodies who still hurt. And yes, Linda that is actually the one-liner I use on the platform during the prop piece when someone cuts you off in traffic (although I simply call it diarreah!).

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