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11 Reasons People Can Be Mean to You and Why You Shouldn't Let That Affect Your Self-Esteem

Updated on September 15, 2017
Filip Stojkovski profile image

Passionately interested about the arts, especially drawing and painting. Professionally works as a game designer and developer.

Dealing with rude behavior and receiving disrespect from other people can be a common occurrence for all of us. It's even worst if we don't feel emotionally safe in an intimate relationship. Sometimes we let that get to our head and we start second guessing ourselves, our social abilities and sometimes even our self-worth. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge the different reasons people are that way and not allow their behavior to affect and harm our self-esteem.

1. They Have Poor Communication Skills

Some people don’t know how to express their needs, opinions and concerns in a calm and respectful manner. It might be that they panic easily, get defensive too quickly, and fear that they will be ignored and not taken seriously if they communicate calmly and respectfully so they immediately resort to aggression, personal attacks, threats or insults. Maybe being aggressive and rude is what worked for them in the past, and that’s how they learned to get their needs met. If you encounter people like this in your social life, it’s best to tell them directly that you will not engage in a conversation that involves disrespect and you won’t be willing to listen to them unless they communicate respectfully and peacefully.

2. They Hold Negative Feelings Towards You

When you realize someone holds negative emotions towards you, it’s easy to understand where the motive for their behavior comes form. They could be jealous of you, or hold past resentment, maybe you make them feel insecure or threatened in some way. Think about the relationship you have with that person and if there is something you have done to make the person feel resentful or jealous. That doesn’t mean you should feel accountable for them feeling that way, but it might give you the explanation for their behavior.

3. They Think It Makes Them More Powerful

For some people, being aggressive to someone is a way of gaining or showing social dominance and power. They probably learned that as a coping mechanism from their environment and equate aggressiveness with strength. This is very common in school bullying. In such situations it’s best to be assertive because bullies generally pick on people who don’t stand up for themselves.

4. They Are Insecure and Put Others Down in Order to Feel Better Themselves

This is not just a cliche reason you've heard millions of times before, it is in fact true in many cases. People who derive their self-confidence from putting others down, feel insecure deep down and constantly feel the need to convince themselves and others they are better than you, and they often do it by being passive aggressive, making rude and sarcastic remarks, making fun of you etc. Since these people already have weak self-confidence to begin with, they often get intimidated and will probably leave you alone if you simply stand up for yourself.

5. They Had a Poor Upbringing

Some parents fail to raise children with adequate abilities to respect other people and engage in a polite conversation. So children grow up without proper social skills and often act impolite as a result of their upbringing or lack thereof.

6. They Are Snobs

Snobs are people who believe their social or material status gives them a right to be patronizing and rude to those they consider inferior. They can be very subtle in letting you know they are above you but they can be one of the most toxic people for your self-esteem, especially if you are surrounded by them on a daily basis. The best thing you can do is to avoid being around them, and if you can’t try to not take them seriously and avoid engaging in conversation with them as much as you can.

7. They're Having a Bad Day

Having a bad day is not an excuse for treating other people with disrespect, but we can all recall a situation where we have been mean to someone for no reason other than having a bad day or being in a bad mood. When people get tired or stressed out, they have diminished capacity to control their behavior, get irritated easily and sometimes lash out at innocent people. If someone that is close to you often acts this way and you know it’s because they are stressed out for other reasons, try to talk to them about their problem and remind them that their behavior is hurtful to you.

8. They Have Poor Emotional Regulation Skills and Get Frustrated Easily

People with low frustration tolerance get easily frustrated and neurotic with everything, including the people around them. They might even often regret their rude behavior later, but when their angers activates they find it hard to control themselves. You will feel much better if you understand that their anger and meanness originate from their own lack of self-control and self-soothing skills and not take them overly seriously.

9. They Don't Care About Respecting Others

These people have little interest in appearing nice to others and probably have little regard for treating others well. They are probably little interested in having friends or being socially accepted and liked, and therefore they have less motivation to be nice and respectful to people.

10. They Have Poor Self-Awareness and Poor Social Awareness

Some people do not properly detect when they are being rude or offensive. They are simply unaware they come off as rude to others. Their behavior is doesn’t arise from malice but from lack of social awareness, lack of understanding of social cues and norms and lack of ability to identify rude behavior in themselves or others.

11. They Disagree With You Ideologically or Politically

You might not be aware of it but people always pick up on your political and ideological beliefs very easily, by simply being around you, listening to your conversations or maybe even by following your social media activity. That of course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be expressing your beliefs for the sake of avoiding being treated badly by someone or offending someone unintentionally and getting disrespect for it, but keep in mind that someone’s rude behavior can occur simply for this reason.

In your experience, what is the most common reason people act disrespectful or mean?

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