Bullies don’t limit their hostile ways to schoolyards, even adults run into genuinely mean people on occasion. Whether they appear at work or at family functions, these people can ruin both your day and your overall health. Bully victims can suffer from conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even digestive disturbances, according to Chris Iliades, medical doctor, in "How to Deal with Adult Bullies," an article on Everyday Health. Several strategies can help you handle the mean people in your life and preserve your own emotional and physical health.
Hold Your Composure
Mean people commonly enjoy controlling people who get emotional, according to psychologist Dr. Michelle Callahan in her Huffington Post article "Ten Tips for Dealing with Bullies at Work." Don’t allow bullies to manipulate your emotions. Instead, stay calm and confident in the face of adversity. If necessary, practice breathing exercises to relax yourself if you feel upset. Deep, slow breaths from your abdomen can help keep your blood pressure down.
If possible, avoid the mean people altogether, says Susan Biali, medical doctor, in her Psychology Today article “Don't Try to Reason with Unreasonable People.” Of course, whether they're your coworker or family member, you'll probably have to make some form of contact with the bully. In this case, Biali suggests that you avoid topics that invite the person to make insults or put you down. For example, if your brother has a habit of making fun of your income level, don’t bring up the subject when he’s nearby at family functions.
Talk It Out
If the mean person is a loved one who happens to say insensitive things, you can attempt a logical appeal, says Dr. Biali. Simply explain how their words or actions make you feel. For example, if you and your brother are close, you can say "When you joke about my income, I feel insulted and embarrassed in front of our family." However, this approach only works if the person is reasonable and caring, warns Biali. In some cases, the bully might have a personality disorder, such as narcissistic personality disorder, and your appeal will fall flat.
Seek Help from Others
Report abuse if you feel threatened by verbal or physical abuse, or if the mean-spirited encounters seem to take a toll on your health. For example, report a workplace bully to management, while a mean spouse or relative might require family counseling intervention. Keep a journal of quotes and bullying incidents, so you have information to show a counselor or the human resources department at work, suggests Dr. Callahan. From there, an expert can assess the severity of the situation and help you find a solution.