6 Essential Tips on How to Deal With Mean People

Why are people so mean? It hurts when people think only about themselves and ruin other people’s day as a result. As much as we are encouraged to see the best in other people, there is no denying the fact that people can be so mean. From colleagues to classmates to supposed friends, mean people are everywhere. But do you know why people are so mean? Do you know how to deal with mean people? Here is a guide on understanding, identifying, and dealing with mean people. 

Who Is A Mean Person? 

We all know who mean people are – the people with terrible personalities. They are mostly selfish and don’t care if their behaviors hurt others. That is a basic way to describe mean people. To understand what makes a person ‘mean’ from a psychological point of view, you need to look at the ‘Big Five’ factors used in the science of personality research. These factors include: 

  • Emotional stability 
  • Extraversion
  • Openness 
  • Agreeableness 
  • Conscientiousness 

The average person will have an average score in each of these factors, but the mean person will have lower scores. Again, the lower the score, the lower the ability of the individual to interact with others effectively, which translates to a higher level of meanness.

But why do people have lower scores in the Big Five personality factors? It is commonly believed that personality development during childhood is the greatest influencer of how the individual turns out. Proper care, discipline, and attention during the formative years will help individuals to develop their personalities. Without these, individuals will develop a defense mechanism, which translates to meanness towards other people.

What Are The Common Traits Of Mean People? 

Mean people have common traits that give them out easily. If you are a good judge of character, you can easily tell from their traits. Five common traits of mean people include: 

  • Everything is all about them, and they find it very difficult to think about others
  • They are verbally toxic and will not hesitate to put down other people 
  • They easily paint themselves as victims 
  • They are ignorant of the obvious facts about their attitude 
  • They count everything and will never allow themselves to be cheated in their calculations. 

The General Character of a Mean Person 

Many people use the words ‘mean’ and ‘toxic’ interchangeably. This is not entirely right. Mean people are not necessarily toxic people. They do not share the same malicious intent as toxic people. The mean person may have several problematic characteristics but doesn't thrive on the malicious intent and personality as a toxic person.

It is important to state at this point that most of us exhibit some level of meanness from time to time. It is possible for some of your friends to see you as a mean person, and you may be oblivious to it. If you recognize the characteristics, you can fix it and make improvements. The commonest examples of mean personality characteristics include: 

  • Narcissist 
  • Controlling 
  • Being too serious 
  • Being too emotional in a bad way 
  • Needy and obnoxious 
  • Non-confrontational 
  • Interest-driven
  • Anarchist. 

6 Top Tips to Deal With Mean People 

This is the most important part of this guide; you should go through it carefully. Mean people are not evil. They are not even malicious but have personality problems they are oblivious of and can hardly control. Knowing how to treat them will help you keep your sanity in a different situation.

Ideally, mean people are not just out to get you or anyone else. They act the way they do because of immature personalities and underdeveloped needs. The best way to deal with most of them will be to ignore them until they let you be. When they feel their behaviors don't affect you, they may act more reasonably towards you or move onto someone else.

Ignoring mean people can be very difficult, so here are more practical ways to deal with them:

1. Understand 

When you understand that mean people will always exist and that their behaviors are hardly malicious, you will learn to tolerate more than the average person. The higher your level of tolerance, the better your chances of being relaxed in the face of provocation from the mean person. With time, they may stop bothering you.

2. Minimize Your Interactions with Them 

While tolerance is important, you have to find ways to interact less with mean people. Even if you are in the same team, minimize your interaction with them, and you will easily find yourself becoming happier. 

3. Choose Your Fights Wisely 

There are some actions of the mean person that you will have to ignore instead of confronting them. You have to be choosy with how you deal with their antics. You can let go of some of their wrongs and tackle only the critical ones. 

4. Try to Document Your Communication 

If you know that someone has a mean personality and is likely to lie, deny, or spread false information, documenting your communication with them can be very helpful. This is especially important if you are working with a mean person in your team. 

5. Stay Factual In Your Dealings 

When you have anything to do with a mean person, try not to get caught in unrelated history and excuses. Make sure you stick to facts and try not to get emotional. You can leave the discussion if you observe that the mean person really want to stray and ruin it. You can always revisit the discussion with more facts later. 

6. Involve allies if there is a need 

It may be necessary to involve some other people when you are dealing with a mean person. Trying to prove yourself right to him/her will be fruitless. Involving other people can help. Make sure that the third-party you are bringing into the case is an objective person.


You will need to learn to interact with all kinds of persons if you want to enjoy a happy life. This includes mean people. Understanding their characteristics and the reasons they act the way they do is important. Knowing how to deal with them is also very important. This short guide can be very helpful. You should also look at yourself closely to see if you are the mean type. If you are, self-reflection can help. If you have gained the trust of a mean person, help them see what they are doing. 


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