Monday, March 23, 2015

Six Ways to Deal with Mean People: a Guide for Sensitive Beings

The other day was tough.  While at work, I encountered a customer who gave me a long verbal beating when I wouldn't give in to her demands, (because they were against policy)... I mean, it just came out of nowhere and escalated quickly and left me feeling drained!

If you've ever worked in retail, or in any job where you have to provide some form of customer service and speak to people, then you know how rough it can be to deal with these super rude/loud/entitled types of folks. You also know how tricky it can be to navigate a situation like this. Thankfully, they only come around once in a while. And when they do, you don't have to let the encounter ruin the rest of your day!

I am by no means an expert advice-giver, and I can't say that I was able to completely get over the situation right away. Honestly, it did make me upset. I have always been a sensitive person. When I was in kindergarten, a rude little boy called me "ugly" at recess and I pretty much cried about it the rest of the day. Things like this can make a lasting impression on sensitive people! But I'm trying to work on being tougher. It's a process, but here are some ways to deal:

1. Detach, Detach, Detach

Do NOT, under any circumstances, attach your personal feelings to anything the rude person is saying. You don't know them, and more importantly, they don't know you. So if they try to insult you by saying something that starts with "you" such as "you don't know how to do your job right", it does NOT make it true. So don't let yourself believe them for even one second. Shield up.

2. Remember to breathe

When the verbal tirade starts, it's easy to lose focus on where you are and what you're doing because you're trying to listen to the customer. You may even forget to breathe properly - so if you're able to walk away, or wait until they finish their tantrum and leave, take a deep breath. Then another.

3. Remember "Karma" is on your side

If the encounter happens while you're at your job, then you know it's impossible to allow yourself to lose your cool and return the rudeness back, (even though you might really want to!) Don't get in trouble. If you are able to stay as calm as possible and remain courteous, then that makes YOU the better person. You are the one giving respect. They are the ones giving negativity - Not to sound cheesy, but honestly: the universe will return that to them one day! Whatever you put out is what you get back. Trust.

4. Vent

You should, of course, inform your supervisors of what went down (if they don't already know - hopefully they were beside you helping diffuse the situation anyways). But save the venting for your BFF/significant other/cat. For me, my mom is always ready to listen when I get home. Cleanse your insides of the grime that built up! If no one is available to lend an ear, another great thing is to let it all out on paper. Grab your journal or any blank sheet of paper and let loose! And when you're done, slam the book shut, or rip up the paper and throw it away! It's no longer a part of you!

5. Don't think about it anymore

Once you've let it all out on paper, or told the tale to someone who loves you and is on your side, turn your mind to other things! What's the number one thing that would make you so happy in that moment? Getting started on that new painting? Listening to your favorite album? Popping in your favorite dvd and consuming copious amounts of chocolate? Do it. After I got home that day, I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past and nibbled on a chocolate bar and it turned the rest of the day around! Another thing you can try that is guaranteed to take your mind off of ANYthing is crochet or knitting. I recently started learning crochet, and the intense amount of focus it takes to keep the correct count of stitches you make at all times is kind of insane. It makes you forget everything. And of course, there's always reading. Escape somewhere else and become a different person for a little while. Let your hurt feelings heal in peace.

And finally,

6. Remember that it could always be worse.

If all else fails, at least try to remember that there are people in the world who go through much worse situations in their lives than you are when dealing with a mean person. Let the meanie put on their show. It's only temporary. Soon they'll be finished and out of your face and you can go about the rest of your day. Be thankful for the positive things you've got going in that moment, (make a mental list!), and move on.

I hope that was helpful.

What are some of your tips for dealing with rude strangers?


  1. This happens to me quite a bit. I work for a divorce attorney and people get pretty mad. It's much easier to deal with over the phone though. In person it's a bit tougher for me.

    1. Yeah, definitely easier over the phone.. You can just hang up on people ;) lol


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