Learn How To Stop Being Mean Unintentionally
Getting along with other people isn't always easy. Each of us grows up in different types of families and environments, and because of that, we learn different communication strategies. That means sometimes, we don't even realize when we're saying something that someone else might take as rude or mean. But you can learn to pay more attention to the reactions others have to your words and from those reactions, learn how to stop being mean unintentionally.
Why do I keep saying mean things?
One of the first things you should do in learning how to stop being mean is to look at what situations cause you to say things that upset other people. Is something triggering you to blurt things out without thinking? For some people, social anxiety is a cause of unfiltered speech. That is, you may be so nervous that you talk in ways you wouldn't if you felt more relaxed.
Another reason that you may unintentionally hurt someone's feelings is if you are struggling with your own difficult emotions. When we are stressed, angry, or sad, we are more likely to say things we don't really mean. And that can create a negative situation between you and people you care about.
Sometimes, being mean has nothing to do with internal struggles like anxiety or difficult emotions. You may simply have poor communication skills or difficulty reading other people's tones, facial expressions, and gestures. When this is the case, you may feel perfectly at ease and happy, but often get unexpected negative reactions from people around you.
How to stop being mean to people
In order to improve your relationships with friends and family, as well as having more enjoyable encounters with new people, you need to address the specific problem that is at the root of your mean words.
Social anxiety can manifest in all kinds of awkward or unaccepted behaviors. When you don't feel at ease in a certain situation, you may speak harshly or use the wrong word. You can help reduce accidental communication problems by visualizing yourself in the situation ahead of time. Imagine yourself smiling and feeling relaxed. And give yourself plenty of conversation ideas ahead of time.
Another form of anxiety is feeling threatened. When this happens, you may feel the need to inflate your own ego. But this usually alienates you from others rather than making you feel better and more included. Rather than get defensive, change your perspective. If you feel someone is better than you at something, you can choose to get frustrated or you can choose to learn from them. The second choice is usually better.
Addressing difficult emotions
If you have experienced a recent disappointing or frustrating event, you may need to take some time to yourself before you try talking to others. Negative emotions can make you more likely to lash out at people unintentionally. Do things that help boost your mood. When you're feeling calm, try confiding in a close friend to help you deal with whatever situation you are going through.
Addressing poor communication skills
The only way to improve poor communication skills is with mindful practice. It's not practice if you continue talking and listening in the same ways you always have. Start paying attention to other people's facial expressions, tones, and gestures. If you're uncertain, ask them to clarify how they feel about something you've said.
And remember that listening carefully is equally important to talking carefully. Focus on what the other person is saying and wait for an opportunity to speak rather than interrupting and only paying attention to your half of the conversation. Talking to a professional counselor can also help you develop strategies to stop being mean unintentionally and have better conversations with others.