Dealing with hostile people

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Impertinence is an act of disrespect or verbal insolence shown towards somebody. It is an act that diminishes or denigrates another person. The reason for an impertinence towards you could range from stress, envy, jealousy, and resentment to disdain, contempt, anger, and bitterness. Whatever the reason may be, a person who treats you with impertinence is not exactly a very happy person. Hostility towards other people is usually a reflection of one’s pains, fears, and insecurities. An emotionally healthy person will not be rude or ill-mannered because he/she is naturally inclined to showing empathy and tolerance. He/she also has a thick skin, and is not easily angered by other people’s transgressions against him/her. 

Someone walks up to you and says something nasty in an effort to diminish you. You are offended and are tempted to reciprocate similarly out of hostility towards this person. What you didn’t realize is that your transgressor offended you when he/she could have chosen to act differently. For example, he/she could have concentrated on something else (say a good book, or an important event), but he/she instead decided to diminish you. He/she has behaved this way as a result of his/her deep-seated emotional insecurity and a warped perspective about life. While emotionally healthy and happy people will treat you with respect and thereafter focus on their goals, emotionally unstable people will do the exact opposite. 

Insecure people dwell on trivialities and tend to lack a sense of purpose. Their lack of purpose and meaningful goals makes them easily vulnerable to the painful effects of undesirable life circumstances and other people’s insolence. With most of their attention directed to the desire for respect and recognition, they are prone to be dispirited and peeved by offensive and belittling remarks made by other people. More so, they may get back at their transgressors, or worse, make the entire world pay for all the agonies and troubles they’ve experienced. Beneath every hostile behaviour is emotional pain; emotional pain is triggered by rejection, humiliation, or lack of love. Therefore, all hostile people are actively or passively angry people.

When your transgressor gets to you, he/she subconsciously expects either of two responses- the fear emotion or a hostile reciprocation (which also indicates that you are hurt). Either of these reactions reflect a hurting soul; hostile people want you to be hurt. They want you to be dispirited/downcast/depressed or exasperated/unsettled/ angrier. Showing hostility towards your transgressor will not only show that you are hurting, but is also more likely to make your transgressor continue his/her abusive behaviour, in an attempt to hurt you more. As a result, you are also more likely to continue in your act of blatant hostility because you are hurting, and would want to deal more harm to the self-esteem of your transgressor. At the end of the day, both parties are hurt; although one party is more likely to deal more blow to the other party’s self-esteem. 

By instinct, when other people degrade you or haul insults at you, you are forced to get back at them. But this is not a wise action. Hurting another person won’t necessarily make you happier; no doubt it will give you a sense of control and a triumphant feeling of complete justice. Hurting another person isn’t necessary, since your transgressor is already bitter and unhappy. The impertinent act of your transgressor says more about them than about you. Do not take in their degrading remarks; understand their insecurities, bitterness, and fears, and avoid them. Your transgressor is burning inside him/her. Do not let his/her fire burn you too. 

Remember, getting back at other people may not stop them from being nasty towards you. On the contrary, it is more likely to aggravate them and intensify their hostility towards you. In anger, they are more likely to act irrationally, and so are you. And the goal of the hostile/abusive exchange would be to rip into shreds one another’s feelings of self-worth. Instead of doing this,

Identify your mistake

Be a bit self-critical. Say to yourself, ‘It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have been at the wrong place at the time; I shouldn’t have given room for such impertinence; I should have seen the possibility of this happening; I should have kept a distance; I could have avoided the situation, but I didn’t. Therefore, I take the blame for it; I should have seen it coming.’

Do not be mad at those who are impertinent to you. Be self-critical because you let it happen one way or another. You could have avoided it. They are not impertinent to a certain person because that certain person did not allow it. Every action you take, and your attitude towards other people determine how they respond to you. If you humiliate yourself, other people will humiliate you. If you are too arrogant, you are more likely to inadvertently offend other people from time to time and they will tend to demean you. If you are too nice and tolerant, other people will take you for granted. Your behaviour towards other people largely determines how they will address you. Therefore, identify your mistake. Accept the fact that you are to blame for how you are being treated. And from that moment on, change your attitude towards other people. Do not cry over spilled milk; it’s spilled already. Instead, focus on avoiding such mistake from repeating itself.

Understand the inevitable

No matter how careful you try to be, you will still be demeaned, ridiculed, and victimized by some people, simply because we live in an imperfect world brimming with selfish and hostile people. Since you cannot avoid this kind of impertinence, you should therefore endure it. You will always be ridiculed by some people, despised, degraded, and condemned by them. You probably want to jump out of your shirt and get back at them, but it wouldn’t put an end to the inevitable; you cannot avoid it. It would be irrational and draining to get into a fight with all the people who disrespect you. Besides the fact that you are bound to experience this more often, fighting against all those who disrespect you only serves to aggravate them and increase their hostility towards you. It is also a waste of your time and energy. The best action to take is to approach such situations the same way you approach trivial issues. Take your mind off them and focus on what’s important; focus on your set goals. In spite of all the troubles we go through, we should therefore aim to accomplish independence and serenity in our lives.