Why are People Mean?

Emil Harker - Mean People

(KUTV) Salt Lake City - Have you ever wondered why some people can be mean? Emil Harker, Marriage & Family Therapist, joined Kari and Brooke on Fresh Living to talk about the 3 motives behind mean people.

Emil Harker writes:

"What’s the deal with mean people? Do you experience people that are brash, rude, condescending, or downright hurtful? Chances are you do. When people are mean to us the natural reaction is to set a firm boundary by letting them have it, or by shutting down and backing away. But that is exactly what they want you to do. You can sabotage other people’s meanness by changing your perspective and planning your response.

There are three reasons people are mean. Some people use all three reasons at different times while others subconsciously side with one.

  1. Fear- some people have insecurities and vulnerabilities that they want to protect. Being mean is a self protective function that keeps people at a safe distance. If you respond to a person that is being mean that is motivated by a fear of getting hurt with a little sharpness from your end, you actually reinforce their motivation to be mean because you just fulfilled their fear that people can’t be trusted. Yep, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy and they don’t even know it.
  2. Hurt- just like it’s twin sister Fear, when people have hurt feelings they go into self preservation mode and act like they are afraid. Imagine a hurt or scared cat. When they are hurt or scared they hiss and scratch and bite.
  3. Weakness. Sometimes people don’t know any better. They think that being aggressive is just being assertive. Sometimes people will justify their meanness by explaining that they shouldn’t have to sugar coat anything, or that they are just being honest. Both of these excuses are just a load of crap to prevent mean people from taking accountability for being mean. Then they can just blame you for being offended when they were “just being honest.”

So how do you deal with mean people? First remember that mean people are doing it out of fear, hurt, or weakness. Ask yourself how you would treat someone who you knew was afraid, or hurt, or weak? You wouldn’t be mean to them. In fact you would be extra careful and nice. This doesn’t imply that it’s ok for people to be mean to you, it means that you’re going to be ok even if people are mean. There’s a big difference between these two statements."

To learn more about Emil or to make an appointment go to EmilHarker.com or call 801-543-2120.