Mean People 101: What Jerks Don’t Want You to Know11 min read

Mean people are a pain in the neck.

No, wait!

The pain they cause can go further than your neck and screw up your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself. 

Let’s face it, we hate mean people because they know how to make us feel bad about ourselves. They insult, bully, be sarcastic, guilt-trip, and do whatever it takes to have the upper hand over you. 

After dealing with a mean person, you will probably feel bad. In extreme cases, you will have a self-esteem hit and start doubting yourself. 

And your mind will likely beat the crap out of you for not standing up for yourself. Being a doormat is not something to be proud of. 

For all that, we need to understand those jerks and their behavior. And more importantly, we need to understand how to respond to them and how to handle them.

Many articles online focus on what you should be doing and how to respond. But that can become difficult without having a solid understanding of those people and what they operate based on, so let’s start with this and build from there. 

It is not just about insecurities

Many resources tell you that mean people are basically insecure. 

And that is correct. 

But here is a question: aren’t we all insecure to some extent?

We can’t divide the world into those who are secure and those who are not insecure, for we all are insecure to some extent. 

However, we can divide the world into those who are able to pick up the slacks and work on themselves and heal their wounds and those who are not willing to work on themselves and willing to blame and shame others for their own wounds and issues because it makes them feel better. 

It is not insecurities that makes people mean toxic; it is the refusal to accept the responsibility for handling these insecurities that makes people mean and toxic. 

Or we can say, “it is not about the insecurities; it is about the insecurities of having insecurities.”

So, mean people are not just people who are insecure. They are people who refuse to accept the responsibility for handling their own insecurities in healthy ways and healing their wounds like grown-ups. 

Drama makes them feel important and ‘good enough’

They create drama; they attract drama. 

Drama makes them feel that ‘people’ are trying to fuck them up. And thus, it means that other people are already fucked up for plotting against them.

This is a great tool which they can use to relinquish the responsibility for their insecurities. Let alone all the emotional highs which help them distract themselves from how miserable they are. 

And oh, drama makes you feel as though you are the center of the world. Everything is about you and your problem. And everything is making your problems worse, which is yet another sign for relinquishing the responsibility for one’s shit. 

According to Alfred Adler, we all strive to feel superior and to overcome our inferiorities. Some of us do that in useful ways; others do this in cheap, harmful ways such as drama, becoming attention whores, putting people down, and bullying. 

This is how mean people are able to push your buttons

Yes, some of them are master communicators. 

Some of them are smooth talkers and hilariously funny people. 

We have charming narcissists and skilled manipulative people. 

Having all these social experience and skills, they can easily provoke people and push their buttons.

However, that is only partly true. 

The important missing piece is that those people, as we have mentioned, are insecure. 

And because they are insecure, they know what insecurities are and how bad they hurt. 

But they don’t use this knowledge to sympathize with the pain of others. They, naively and stupidly, use this knowledge to hurt people and hit where it hurts. 

Mean people at work!

But they don’t use this knowledge to sympathize with the pain of others. They, naively and stupidly, use this knowledge to hurt people and hit where it hurts. 

Because they are familiar with insecurities and the pain those wounds cause, they know what is going to hurt other people. And because they don’t want to accept the responsibility for their pain, and because they want an easy-out and a cheap way to feel good, they just use their knowledge and skills to hit people where it hurts. 

Again, this is yet another indication that mean people are not only insecure people but also cowards. Had they been a little bit braver, they would have not projected their insecurities into others; they would have not chosen to hurt others to feel as though they are stronger.

The importance of standing up for yourself

Before we get into how to respond to mean people, we need to make one thing very clear. 

It is the importance of standing up for yourself. 

It is not your fault that mean people are insecure. But it is still your responsibility to defend yourself and save your self-esteem. 

I have talked about this thoroughly in my book How to Handle an Asshole as if yo were one, which teaches you how to stand up for yourself, among other things. Here is an excerpt:

But what happens if you don’t protect yourself from this evil? What happens when you don’t stand up for yourself?

A lot of shit!

Your self-respect is going to be affected badly. Your mind is observing whatever that is happening to you. And, more importantly, it’s observing how you respond to whatever that happens to you. If it believes that there is timidity and weakness and meekness in the way you respond to those who hurt you, it’s going to give you a hard time. Like it or hate it, you have to earn the respect of your own mind. And hardly will your mind give you enough respect if you don’t stand up for yourself and stop being bullied.

One of the harmful consequences of not standing up for yourself is: anger which turns into resentment and bitterness. Nobody is happy being bullied and mistreated. Anger is the typical response. But this anger is suppressed and thus it turns into resentment and bitterness that beat the hell out of you. And your mind will look down at you because having all this anger and vengeance inside of you means that you have something which you are unable to confront.

And being this bitter and resentful is dangerous. This anger can build up and reach a point where you explode and do stupid things in a hasty way. And depending on the personality, the angry and the resentful people may choose to express their anger in subtle ways that hurt innocent people. For one, they may choose people who are weaker than them and hurt them as a way of expressing their anger. Or they may hurt the people who are close to them by subtly expressing their suppressed anger and resentment. That’s one of the reasons nice people can become dangerous. And I mean dangerous in a bad way.

So, standing up for one’s self is important. However, it requires giving yourself permission to be mean. It requires being a dick when it takes. It requires studying evil and developing your evil side so you can recognize evil and handle it.

And that’s not comfortable for many people who have been nice for their entire lives. That’s uncomfortable for non-confronters and conflict haters. But it’s necessary. And it doesn’t have to be comfortable. In fact, trying to be comfortable all the time is a sign of immaturity. A large part of maturity is about accepting responsibility for your actions and handling the consequences. And more often than not, accepting responsibility is uncomfortable and even painful at times.

But it’s obvious that it’s more fruitful to stand up for yourself despite the discomfort. It’s not morally bad to do that as long as you have the good in mind. In fact, it’s morally bad to let other people walk over you and sacrifice your own self-respect in the process while being bitter and resentful and on the verge of exploding and hurting not only yourself but whoever that is around you at the moment. However, you need to make sure you give yourself permission to be assertive when it takes. Stop being nice all the time. Nice is not always good. You won’t beg someone who beats you to stop; you beat their asses. In the rest of this module, we are going to introduce how to practically be that charismatic person who is irresistible and who can stand up for him/herself and be a dick when it takes. But many of these techniques and principles are not going to work if you cannot show that you are willing to stand up for yourself.

How to Respond to Mean People

To make a long story short, it is not about what you say; it is about who you are.

But what does that mean?

You can teach someone who is timid and very insecure to say the right words to mean people. But it won’t work. 

It won’t work because people listen to who you are and what you believe about yourself more than they listen to what you say or claim. 

Yes, you can get someone to fake who they are to sound tough. And depending on their acting skills, that can work for a while. But I am not interested in teaching short-term tactics. I am here for the long game, and if you are here for the long game too, then listen up. 

You need to turn yourself into the type of person who is emotionally strong and charismatic. That might be a long journey, but it is worth it and it is a permanent solution. 

Below, I will give you quick guidelines for how to go about that. Then, I will give you some resources, for this site you are reading is built for this. 

Here is what you should focus on:

  • I don’t care if no one has ever respected you before. You are a human being and you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if you believe you don’t deserve that. Further read: I Hate Myself: A Brief guide of Self-hatred
  • But you won’t magically be treated with respect if you don’t actively tell the world, and yourself, what respect means to you. This is called: setting boundaries and maintaining them. Self-respect is nothing without boundaries strongly set and deliberately maintained. Further read: How to Not Allow People to Define You
  • Social experience to gain charisma. Like it or hate it, charisma is an important tool. You need it to navigate social situations more effectively. You need it to make people listen. You need it to attract and charm. Further read: The Charisma Myth (A book).
  • Social experience to gain social intelligence. While a lot is written about how important charisma is, social intelligence is a topic which is often overlooked. Yet, it is extremely important. Social intelligence is about knowing what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and whether to say it or not. It is a crucial part of building relationships and navigating social situations like a pro. It is one of the prerequisites for an emotional connection. If charisma is what will get you to the door, social intelligence is what will determine your success inside. People with enough social intelligence are perceived as more charming, more mature, and more capable of connecting deeper with people, which is irresistible.
  • Hanging around jerks and mean people for a while! Like it or hate it, many jerks and mean people are charismatic and are capable of projecting confidence. And many of them are sarcastic and are capable of abusing humor. You need to be around them in order to understand how evil works so that you may stand a chance of fighting it. How they subtly, or explicitly, manage to insult people. How they manage to win the upper hand. How they talk and how they twist things around. How they attack and how they emotionally drain others. You need to understand what you are dealing with; you need to understand the enemy, however insecure and wounded. It is dangerous to do this before being aware of the previous steps. So, work on yourself first and then go and observe those assholes. When you observe them, you will have a good understanding of how they hit and where they hit; every social interaction is unique and thus different. From there, you can develop your own defense mechanism. Your own responses. Your own body language. Your own style. All of that presented by a confident, charismatic, and secure person. And, with that, good luck, mean people and jerks, for you are going to suffer dealing with someone who is strong and who knows what you are doing. And more power to you, my dear reader, as you manage to stand up for yourself and make bullying harder for mean people, and thus making the world a more emotionally secure place. 
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