What to Do When People Treat You Badly?

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From the desk of Harsh Strongman
Subj: What to do when someone treats you badly?

Part 1: When only a few selected people are disrespecting you

When you’re dealing with one individual or a single group, it’s likely that they’re the problem (unless you’ve done something to justify their poor treatment of you).

In these cases, you can’t take them personally, because the problem isn’t you, it’s them. You’ve done nothing wrong.

You still need to deal with them, and it depends on which position you are in.

What to do when someone treats you badly at work?

If you’re being treated badly at work by a superior, ask them what the problem is and see if you can resolve it. If diplomatic options don’t work, and you think they will stifle your career progress, it’s time to leave for a better employer.

If they’re a co-worker (i.e. they don’t affect your promotions) – call them out on being an asshole. It’s likely that they’re assholes to more than just you, and people are likely to support you.

“Why are you always so rude to me/people?”

If they’re doing it unconsciously, this question will give them some self-awareness. Many people will amend their behavior or start being more reasonable instantly.

If that doesn’t work, use office politics in your favour. Ask people (this could even be your boss) for “advice on how to deal with X person’s bad behavior” – this is just an indirect way to bring their behavior into attention of others without it sounding like you’re making a complaint.

Side-note: When you’re an apprentice 

When you find yourself as an apprentice in a master-apprentice relationship (let’s say you’re an intern or something and mostly there to learn) and your master/teacher is an asshole, there is value in sucking up your pride and tolerating it.

You’re there to learn, and you will not be around that person forever. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your learning.

Your boss is an asshole, and that’s his problem, not yours. Just appease him and try to make the most of your time with him. Learn as much as you can from him, and don’t take him personally; you are there for a short time with him just so you can learn your craft; you do not have to marry him.

What to do when someone treats you badly in a relationship?

When someone mistreats you in a relationship, you first attempt to resolve it diplomatically (by talking about the problem) and if that doesn’t work – you leave.

You need to walk away.

The willingness to walk away is your biggest source of power. If they think you cannot or will not walk away, they will not change their behavior.

Saying you can’t or won’t leave is putting yourself in a very weak position – you cannot negotiate and you will have to accept whatever deal you’re getting. You don’t want to do that.

Bad “friends”

Along the same note, if you’re dealing with a group of “friends” who mistreat you – get rid of them. Never accept disrespect that you haven’t earned.

You don’t owe them anything, so kick their entitled asses goodbye and find better friends. It’s better to be alone than to be disrespected – in fact, it’s a sign of self-respect.

Most people who treat others badly for no good reason … are deeply insecure people. On a deep level, they don’t feel that secure in their social position, so they attempt to reinforce their position by pushing you down – yes, it’s like high school bullying.

You always have the option of fighting back and pushing yourself up in the hierarchy, but 99% of the time … these people are not worth the time (in other words, victory is time-consuming and has no rewards. Even if this group likes you, you don’t really gain much of tangible value from it.)

Just find better people, better partners, better friends, better employers.

If you can’t find someone better, it’s because your value is low. Invest in yourself (your body, your knowledge, your finances, your social skills) so more people want to associate with you.

Do not fall into the trap of trying to get revenge on all the people who mistreated you. It will make you a bitter, vengeful person – you don’t want to be like that.

Unless someone has directly harmed you in some way – the best revenge is always success. As the man says, kill them with success and bury them with a smile.

Part 2: What to do when *everyone* mistreats you

Let’s say that it’s not just one particular person or a group of people, but everyone you interact with disrespects you.

Here, the problem is you. You are the only common denominator in all of your interactions.

You need to figure out why people are treating you badly.

It could be any or all of:

  • You being an asshole
  • You appearing too aggressive or intimidating
  • You’re showing off too much and triggering people’s envy
  • You giving off a timid vibe that makes people think they can walk over you with no consequence

You’re an asshole

Stop being an asshole. Be more considerate. It’s that simple.

You come off as aggressive and “in your face”

This is a sign of social ineptness.

You are stepping on people’s egos and this is why they are reacting negatively towards you.

Think of a group discussion interview you’ve been in – there’s always one guy who tries to dominate everyone and leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Case in point, look at the girl in red (extreme left) in this video:

Regardless of what she says (the words don’t matter), the way she communicates is very aggressive. She blatantly steps on people.

When you behave like this in your general communication (try to “win” every conversation), it triggers people’s competitive instinct and makes them consider you an adversary. Do this too much and they will start disliking you.

If this is you, you need to work on your social skills. Remember, arguing is a waste of time.

Read through:

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Read the unrevised edition that was written when Carnegie was still alive. After he died, his wife and daughter kept “updating” his book by making it gender neutral, politically correct, and cutting out many chapters that didn’t suit their sensibilities.)
  2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (India, USA)

These two books will significantly improve your social skills and your understanding of human nature. For advanced treatment, listen through The Illimitable Man Audiobook, a more Machiavellian text.

You’re making people envious

Many people rub their glorious life in people’s faces, for example, by putting up their holiday photos on social media – this is a sign of insecurity and social ineptness.

You are seeking validation (and the pleasure of making people jealous) but you do not realize that when people are jealous of you, they try to sabotage your progress and bring you down.

This is just human nature. No one likes to feel inferior to someone else.

Just look at how people treat those with expensive cars – they assume the owner is an asshole or has “a small penis”. It makes no logical sense, but this is how people are.

Keep your prosperity to yourself and enjoy in private. Do not gloat and do not make yourself a target. Blend in.

You give off a timid vibe and make people feel it’s safe to disrespect you

This could be your communication style, but it could also be your physiognomy and your body.

One indicator of a person’s personality is body language.

Look at the image above. The guy on the left has closed body language and is physically weak (weak arms, drooping shoulders, narrow torso).

Most people will instantly look at him and think that he is timid and non-confrontational. This increases the likelihood of him being mistreated by both men and women.

People will make assumptions about you based on your body and what you look like – and usually these assumptions are correct (that’s why people make them – we recognize patterns).

The image above is of a male that most people wouldn’t consider very “strong” or masculine, and many would feel that there’s something “off” about him.

The “off” thing about him is that he looks androgynous i.e. it’s a little ambiguous whether he’s male or female (likely because of bad hormones and low testosterone).

(Most people assume this type of person is passive aggressive – which is also a sign of weakness.)

The way you fix your body language is by being more aware of your body language and learning more about body language. Read a good book on it, like What Every Body is Saying (India, USA) by Joe Navarro.

To fix your body, get in the gym and build your body. This will improve your facial structure (as your fat melts away), make you broader, and will make your arms bigger.

The guy in the picture above is far less likely to be disrespected by people.

Why? He’s muscular, dresses well, and has a masculine look (a sign of good health and good hormonal balance).

On a subconscious level, you can tell that disrespecting this man for no good reason will have consequences – it’s not safe to do.

This subconscious messaging is why bouncers in clubs have implied authority. They are big and masculine.

One thing all formerly fat people will confirm is how much better people treat them after they’ve lost weight.

Your body reflects who you are as a person, and if your body looks like utter trash, then on some level, everyone will treat you like trash.

Thankfully, you can fix this – and now you know how.

This was a very broad topic, but I hope this article was of use to you.

Update: I did a Twitter poll using the above images. Women were asked who they’d rather go out on a date with, and men were asked who they’d rather be friends with.

The poll received 5,363 votes, and the voters were not given any information about the subjects outside the two photos.

People strongly preferred the guy in white – three times as much.

Some women pointed out the same thing I did (the guy in red looks androgynous).

It pays to be masculine. So get on it!

– Harsh Strongman

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