Can a mean person change?  (13 useful tips)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Can a mean person change?” and explore the various aspects of a person’s personality and its dynamicity to help understand the answer. 

Can a mean person change?

Yes, a mean person can change. A mean person can change in the following 13 ways-

  • Think about why you act mean. 
  • Realize that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected. 
  • Gain control of your emotions before you speak. 
  • Keep a “be nice” journal. 
  • Cultivate a sense of humour. 
  • Sleep well at night. 
  • Meditate before potentially stressful events or conversations. 
  • Realize that meanness comes from within. 
  • Develop empathy. 
  • Visualize a role model. 
  • Smile at people. 
  • Use positive body language. 
  • Use assertive expression of your feelings when necessary. 

What are these 13 ways in which a mean person can change?

Think about why you act mean. 

To feel better about themselves, many individuals act cruelly to others. This method, however, may not be very helpful, particularly if you wish to be friendlier to others. 

You may strike out at someone and feel better in the moment, but subsequently feel awful about yourself for doing so.

Realize that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected. 

It might be tough to tell the difference between thinking and sensation. In truth, the two are linked: your ideas influence your emotions. Your behaviours are influenced by your sentiments. 

As a result, if you wish to modify your behaviours (or words), you need to begin by changing your thinking.

Gain control of your emotions before you speak. 

Allow yourself time to reflect before responding if you feel like you’re going to say anything hurtful to someone. If you allow yourself to use reason first, you’ll be more likely to offer the individual a useful response (and less likely to be rude).

Keep a “be nice” journal. 

Make a journal entry detailing how you interacted with others during the day. Try to recollect specifics about who you were mean to, why you think you were cruel, what you said, and the circumstances that lead up to the incident if you had any.

Reward yourself for “good behaviour” if you were able to be pleasant to others, especially in situations where your natural propensity is to be cruel.

Cultivate a sense of humour. 

Being able to laugh freely (with others, not at them) might help humour overcome your meanness. If you’re starting to feel irritable and worried that you’re being cruel to someone, try to find a cause to laugh. 

Finding comedy in a circumstance or making yourself laugh about anything else might help to defuse a situation by shifting your body’s chemical reaction from anger to humour.

Sleep well at night. 

To flourish, you must receive enough sleep each night (at least 7-8 hours). Sleep deprivation may cause a variety of health issues, including the inability to effectively control emotions. 

Getting enough sleep might help you have the tolerance and understanding to be polite to people no matter how you’re feeling.

Meditate before potentially stressful events or conversations. 

Meditation can assist you in regulating your emotions, allowing you to be more pleasant. If you’re worried you’ll be unpleasant to someone because you’re angry or impatient, try meditating for a few minutes.

Realize that meanness comes from within. 

When they feel intimidated, degraded, or bullied, most individuals respond cruelly against others. Knowing that it’s your issue, not someone else’s, when you act unkindly, might help you decide if your cruel words or behaviour are suitable in the scenario.

Develop empathy. 

Empathy can assist you in prioritising kindness to others. Understanding another’s point of view, feeling saddened by another’s suffering, and being able to relate to another’s feelings are all examples of empathy. 

Whatever strategy you pick, make sure you concentrate on comprehending and relating to the individuals you’re interacting with.

Visualize a role model. 

Find someone whose words and deeds inspire you and envision how they would act or speak in a certain circumstance. After that, try to imitate that style of communication.

Smile at people. 

Smiling at someone might make you appear more pleasant. People are more inclined to smile back at you, and you may find it easier to form friendships. 

Smiling might make you feel better as well. Your thoughts and feelings respond to the action of smiling, so acting cheerful with excellent posture and a large smile might truly increase your mood.

Use positive body language. 

It’s not all about the words when it comes to communication. Your words might be perfectly courteous, but your body language or actions can send a negative message to others. 

Negative sentiments toward others may be evident in your body, indicating that you are unpleasant to others.

Use assertive expression of your feelings when necessary. 

Try assertive communication instead of passive communication (being furious without saying anything) or aggressive communication (exploding in a way that may appear out of proportion to the issue). 

Use the facts (not exaggerated by emotion) to convey requests (rather than demands) of people in a polite manner to develop forceful speaking. To ensure that everyone’s requirements are addressed, communicate properly and express your feelings effectively.

Why are people mean?

Positive distinctiveness.

According to the social identity hypothesis, people have a fundamental psychological desire for “positive distinctiveness.” In other words, humans require a sense of positive distinction from others. 

This demand for positive differentiation extends to the groups we belong to since people naturally create groupings. That is, we tend to view our in-groups more favourably than out-groups (groups we do not belong to). 

And as a consequence, we tend to see people who are not part of our group less positively than people who are. This is especially likely to occur when there is competition between the groups or when people feel like the identity of their group has been challenged.

Research in this tradition most often finds that people display in-group favouritism, and further, that degrading out-group members can have a positive impact on self-esteem and feelings of positivity towards one’s groups.

Downward comparisons.

According to the social comparison hypothesis, people constantly compare themselves to others. Additionally, these comparisons frequently alter how we feel about ourselves. 

We tend to make downward comparisons or comparisons that allow us to look down on other individuals since we normally desire to feel good. 

Additionally, research that is based on this theory supports the idea that when someone has been insulted or belittled, people are more hostile toward them, and this can make individuals feel better about themselves (it can help restore self-esteem). 

According to one study, individuals assess others as less beautiful, bright, and kind when they are told they are ugly (using bogus feedback), as opposed to when they are told they are. Simply put, people were more prone to disparage others after being insulted.

Classical projection.

Years ago, Freud made the case that individuals see other people have unusually high levels of the same unfavourable attitude in order to deal with their own poor self-perceptions. 

Tell them you are feeling dishonest, in essence. As a result, you are more inclined to perceive others as dishonest, which in turn helps you feel more honest about yourself.

Research backs up this assertion. In one study, respondents were more inclined to assume that another person was acting angry when they were informed they were feeling angry. They thus had less furious thoughts themselves.

Ego threat.

Researchers have shown that a lot of aggressiveness is motivated by endangered self-esteem. In other words, it doesn’t really matter if people have positive or negative overall feelings about themselves.

The fact that individuals currently feel worse about themselves than normal is what matters. According to this line of study, a wide spectrum of heightened violent behaviours is linked to endangered self-esteem.

For instance, people are more inclined to make someone else listen to loud noises when they are insulted than when they are appreciated.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Can a mean person change?” and reviewed the various aspects of a person’s personality and its dynamicity to help determine if a mean person can change. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Legg, T. J. People Can Change, But That Doesn’t Mean They Will. (2020, July 31). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/do-people-change#:~:text=Many%20people%20wonder%20whether%20people,they%20choose%20to%20do%20so.&text=Considering%20broader%20behavior%20patterns%20can%20help

I’ve been a mean person but I want to change, can I? Quora. Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Ive-been-a-mean-person-but-I-want-to-change-can-I

Gupta, S. Can People Really Change? (2021, October 7). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/can-people-really-change-5203290

Frank, M.A. Why Are People Mean? Don’t Take It Personally! (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.excelatlife.com/articles/meanpeople.htm

Kirby, S. Can People Change Or Do They Just Lie? How Experts Answer The Question, “Can People Change?”. (2022,  January 30). Retrieved from https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/behavior/can-people-change-or-do-they-just-lie/

Can People Really Change? PsychCentral. (2014, March 2). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/can-people-really-change#1

Manson, M. No, You Can’t Make a Person Change. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://markmanson.net/no-you-cant-make-a-person-change

Schewitz, S. How to Stop Being Mean to People. (2021, December 3). Retrieved from https://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Being-Mean-to-People

Caprino, K. The 3 Most Powerful Ways To Change People Who Don’t Want To Change. (2015, February 6). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2015/02/06/the-3-most-powerful-ways-to-change-people-who-dont-want-to-change/?sh=73bec6f54111

Drevitch, Gary. Why Are Mean People So Powerful? (2019, August 6). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201908/why-are-mean-people-so-powerful

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