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How to Tell Someone You Think They Are Mean

by Heather Robson

When there's someone in your life who doesn't make an effort to be kind, or event civil, it can take a toll on you mentally and emotionally. One way to deal with someone who is overly critical, thoughtless or deliberately hurtful is to approach the situation head on. Rather than suffering in silence, let the offender know what you think about her behavior. If you want to --- or have to --- maintain a productive relationship with the person, how you approach this delicate topic can make a world of difference in how what you say is received.

Identify the specific behaviors the person engages in that you find hurtful. Do this as part of your preparation for the discussion you plan to have with her.

Determine exactly how those behaviors make you feel and why they make you feel that way. This step should also be done as part of your preparation.

Identify benefits to the person you're addressing if he changes his behavior.

Arrange a time to speak to the person when you won't be interrupted. Try to hold the discussion somewhere that is neutral.

Use "I-statements" to address the specific issues you identified in Steps 1 and 2. For example, if you are speaking with a supervisor who regularly dresses you down in front of your colleagues you might say, "When you yell at me in front of other employees, I get frustrated because it is lowers my colleagues' respect for me and it is harder to do my job when working with people who don't respect me. If you could address these issues to me in the privacy of your office, I think I could be more productive in my response and my work." By addressing a specific behavior and explaining the effects, in most situations, the listener will be more responsive and less defensive.

Avoid venting, name-calling and passive-aggressive statements. These will likely make the listener feel attacked and will not result in an improved relationship.

About the Author

Heather Robson has more than 10 years of professional writing experience with articles appearing in publications such as "Portland Magazine" and "Treasure Valley Family Magazine." Her education is in physics and English literature, so she's ready to tackle any topic that comes her way.

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