The world can be a cruel place sometimes. I guess this is why so many of us use coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges we are faced with in life.

I never understood why some people display horrible behaviour towards others, sometimes without a valid reason. Even if there is a valid reason to be nasty to someone, always choose kindness, there’s no need to exercise that evil streak.

You will never know what is going through a person’s mind that causes them to do the things they do.

Everyone is fighting a battle that we might not know about.

When someone treats you poorly, ask yourself why they are acting in that way.

Most of the time, how people act has nothing to do us. Usually, people are dealing with their own life challenges.

Why do people choose to be unkind?

There is no excuse for shitty behaviour. Just because someone is going through something in their lives, it does not excuse their actions.

But, everyone is built different, two people who are experiencing the same situation may react differently. Reactions are usually based on the level of experience and maturity each individual has. This determines if and how they project their issues onto others.

Their own experiences

Everyone is going through their own challenges in life. The way a person treats you says more about them than it does about you. Try not to take things personally. With the recent global lockdown, people are finding themselves in the worst situations they’ve ever been in before.

This does not excuse unkind behaviour, but frustrations and emotions could determine the way a person treats you.

I am a loner by nature, but recently, this never-ending Covid nightmare has been testing me on so many levels. I have to keep reminding myself that everyone is going through their own challenges too.

People just want to be heard and understood, so I don’t take anything personally.


Some people are just selfish. They will do anything to get what they want in life, regardless of how others are impacted by their words or actions.

I try to engage with people from a level of empathy, but certain people are just self-centred. Selfishness and greed can lead people down a path of unkindness very fast.

Last year I experienced this and couldn’t believe how evil people can be when they have a hidden agenda.

person with mask

A lady I knew (let’s call her Jane) was so upset because another person (let’s call her Eva) was going to chemotherapy as part of her cancer treatment. Jane was extremely annoyed with Eva because Eva couldn’t do the things she did before (with good reason) which benefited Jane because she was on treatment.

The sad reality is that Eva eventually passed away and even until today, Jane’s attitude towards others has not changed. She doesn’t care about others, as long as she reaps whatever benefits she can, even if it means that lives are lost along the way.

Not knowing better

Not all people are vindictive or intentionally selfish. Some people don’t have the life experience to know how to handle a situation. So what may seem unkind might just be a person’s way of handling a situation.

Many times, a person has good intentions but a poor choice of words and actions which may come across as cold. This is one of the reasons why we need to know how to deal with unkind people. Sometimes the person doesn’t even know that he/ she is being unkind.


Apathy is very similar to selfishness. Some people just don’t care. The sooner you realise that a person doesn’t care, the better it will be for you.

Lady with hands forward

There is no point in trying to make a person care about you if they don’t. It will never happen. People who don’t care might pretend that they do, but actions always reveal the true intentions of a person.

Not everyone is emotionally intelligent. I know many well-educated, academic people who have low emotional intelligence that leads to their poor behaviour towards others.

And yet again, this is still not an excuse for shitty behaviour.

How to deal with unkind people?

It can be very frustrating when a person is being horrible to you and you are expected to be nice to them.

What about treating them in the same way that they treat you? Why can’t we just give their own treatment back to them?

I used to treat others the way they treated me but then I realised than I am better than this.

My actions should not be based on someone else’s actions towards me. I became more aware of my behaviour, responses, actions and reactions. I learnt how to control myself regardless of how others act.

Empathise and understand

Remember earlier when I said that we should always ask ourselves why people do the things they do? There is always a reason behind a person’s actions…always!

Instead of getting upset, try to respond to unkind behaviour with empathy and understanding. Put yourself in the other person’s position. They could be going through major life events and not sharing this with anyone.

Not everyone knows how to deal with their emotions. Some people act out in ways that are toxic to themselves and others.

By being empathetic, you might be able to understand the other person better. Also, you should not accept any form of abuse just because the other person is venting and you happened to be the target.

Don’t take it personally

If you think about your own life and emotions, you will know that when you are excited about something, you will usually pass this positive energy to others you interact with. Now think about when you are sad, you might tell someone about how you feel and the sad energy might also make the other person sad.

The same goes for any other emotion. When the other person is feeling negative, they may take their negative feelings out on you. This does not have anything to do with you, that negative behaviour is about them.

One of the hardest lessons I had to teach myself was not to not take things personally when I was being lied to. At first, I questioned why someone would lie to me when I would never do the same to them. But I now understand that people can be cowards and it had nothing to do with me at all.

Offer help

People may need help instead of judgment. People might be embarrassed to ask for help, especially if they feel like they’ve failed.

Man helping a lady

If a person is attacking you verbally, they might be jealous or envious because you are in a better position than them. Instead of fighting back, ask them how you can help them. Or do something nice for them without them having to ask.

A small act of kindness can mean the world to someone who is struggling but is too proud to admit their failure.

Be the better person

Over the years I learnt that just because someone treats you poorly, it doesn’t mean that you have to treat them in the same way.

Continue to be kind to them. You don’t have to go out of your way to do things for them. But you also don’t have to react to their actions or words.

Don’t give them the power to upset you or change the way you behave. Learn how to control and master your emotions. When you understand that you are the only person who should have complete power over your thoughts and actions, your entire life will begin to change.

I’ve forgiven people who are not sorry, I’m still kind to those who did the worst to me and I know that my actions are not a reflection of who those people are. My actions are who I am.

I am the only person who has power over my life and I refuse to hand my power to anyone.

Limit contact

If a person shows you who they are, believe them. If someone keeps treating you poorly, then distance yourself for your own well-being.

If you tried everything to be kind to those who are unkind to you and they continue being unkind, then you may want to reconsider their presence in your life.

Respect yourself enough to know when its time to stop tolerating poor behaviour and disrespect. Everyone has a limit, and if you’ve tried to be understanding, empathetic and helpful but the person continues to take advantage of your kindness, then walk away.

There is a difference between being kind and being a doormat to unkind people. Don’t allow anyone to mistreat you because there are so many people out there who will appreciate you for the person that you are.