How to Prevail with the Mean Spirited People in Your Life

We’ve all got ‘em. And if you haven’t then one will show up soon enough. No, we’re not talking about the inexplicable amount of carrier bags that somehow accumulate in your house!

I have dealt with a few humdingers in my time. In fact, just this last year I had to finally let go of some relationships that were not serving the greater good. Talk about challenging myself and my leadership. It takes a lot for me to do this, so it got me thinking about the process we go through, how much we are willing to take, and when it’s time to let go.

To be specific…, we’re talking about a$$holes, but don’t worry this is a PG article, guys. I’m sure you’ve come across people in life that you just couldn’t bear and made you want to scream, but had to shut up and put up for a whole load of reasons – you work with them, your friend’s dating one or they’re a customer.

A$$holes have an annoying way of sticking around and being generally difficult. People like this are everywhere. And once you accept that and decide that hiding in a cave for the rest of your life isn’t a possibility, you can work on some ways to connect with your inner sense of calm; even in the face of the most annoying person, you’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting.

Being around people that raise your negative vibration can lead to a whole host of outcomes. There are some really specific ways to address this and come out of it feeling good about you.

Let’s take a look.

1. Understanding

Some people are actually classified as sociopaths and they’ll do a whole load of weird stuff that you can’t understand.  The main difference is that a sociopath is out to hurt others. The a$$hole is really just thinking about themselves.

The sociopath is the minority and this article isn’t about them. This is about the meanies that you can try to understand.

Thinking about things from someone else’s perspective is an essential skill anyway and helps you to be an empathetic person. Trying to get in the head of an a$$hole might help you to understand why they’re actually like that at all. It can also create ways for you to connect with this person or reach out in a different way. What’s triggering this person to be difficult or uncooperative?

Pardon the phrasing, but you need to understand your a$$hole.

2. Be zen

It’s tempting to scream like a banshee and run out of the office when you’re around super difficult people, but trying to stay calm is a good idea. It’s easier said than done, but practicing ways to stay more zen in times of incredible frustration can make you feel better and less stressed in the long-term.

The a$$hole you’re dealing with might thrive on the fact you’re visibly annoyed or become even more uncooperative, so try and be calm. Looking calm means that you seem in control of your emotions and rational too. You might be able to get through to someone in a different way with a counter-point or alternative viewpoint if you don’t like a raving hothead.

3. Research-gathering

A problem shared is a problem halved. Don’t steam in and go ‘OMG DO YOU HATE THEM TOO, DO YOU, DO YOU?!?!?’

The thing is, the responses you get can go one of two ways. You might get more frustrated that no-one else has a problem with this person, in which case, try to understand what it is that you’re finding difficult.

More importantly, you are feeding the fire by creating conversations that are not necessary. In other words, it creates even more drama. And we don’t need more of that in our lives.

Ask someone (a coach, a close friend, your manager, etc) how to approach this challenge you are having. That places the impact on how you can move the situation while allowing for a nice level headed conversation. And it doesn’t make it about the other person as a witch hunt.

See the difference?

4. Reach out

Now this one’s difficult because naturally you don’t want to interact with people you don’t like and find irritating. Your gut is telling you to run for the hills, go, go, go now and don’t look back!

But actually, weirdly enough, trying to reach out and build more of a rapport and relationship with an a$$hole can make you feel a bit better. Get to know the person a bit better and your situation might change – chat online, send a few emails, maybe go out for lunch. If things don’t change and you’re finding it tough then, hey at least you tried.

Don’t get to a point where you treat someone disrespectfully, it’s hardly ever a justifiable course of action. And if you alienate or act out with someone then they might treat you the same way, which doesn’t feel nice either and is a complete lose-lose scenario.

Focus on actionable things that you can do to try and resolve a situation or make it a teeny bit better, at least.

5. Talk to the hand

There are people who are completely unreachable, unteachable and…something else that rhymes with that. If you feel like you’ve exhausted all avenues and you and this a$$hole will NEVER work then maybe it is best to keep out each other’s way as much as possible.

This last year I let go of a few of these after giving it my best go. I realized that it wasn’t giving me spirited joy in my life and it was holding me back from the fun-loving connected helpful person I know myself to be. Around them, I was someone different. And that didn’t serve them or me.

Focus on what you can do to change the scenario. Meet that person where they are and then show them what leadership looks like. Don’t lower yourself by apologizing. Sometimes we forget that saying I’m sorry, diminishes the words and their actual meaning when you haven’t done anything wrong. Meet them where they are, understand why they are coming from that place and empathize with their situation. That doesn’t mean you will agree, but standing in their shoes could get you much farther than always looking for something to dislike.

For the love of god though, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t change the behavior or relationship, their mom has probably tried her whole life. I kid, I kid.