How I Deal With People Who Treat Me Like Crap

Since moving to Austin, I’ve integrated myself into the tennis community. We have leagues, and tournaments around the state of Texas. This tennis community is not that big, so you tend to see a lot of the same people at different events. For the most part everybody gets along, but every now and then you’ll hear or see some people who don’t.

They mostly complaining about the way someone else acted or behaved towards them. Not surprisingly, everyone usually hates on their opponent they recently played. It’s a person over lunch talking about the guy who cheated them out of a point. Sometimes it’s a team captain saying another captain stacked her lineup so they could have their best team play our worst team. Overall, it’s not unlike a high school where you have the community, and cliques (or is it clicks?) within it who don’t always get along and sometimes talk a little ish.

When we complain about things, we’re less happy than we would otherwise be. By definition, someone in a state of happiness is not complaining. When I saw these people complaining, I wanted to avoid it. And I’ve found some ways to do that, no matter how the opponent acts towards me.

4 Ways I Deal With Crappy People

Treat Adults Like Kids

Alain De Botton says uses a good analogy about kids. When a baby is crying, we just assume they’re tired, or hungry. But when an adult is acting crappy, we assume they’re an asshole. In reality, our mood is highly affected by our diet, sleep, exercise, but for some reason, society assumes that adults should be able to control this. That’s kind of stupid, so when someone pushes me out of the way to get through the subway door, or the server at the restaurant is rude, I just assume they’re hungry or tired or just having a bad day. That way, I spend less time complaining about them, allowing me to better use my time. If you take this view, then really, no one is ever treating you like crap. They just happen to be in an unhappy state. Remember they’re not attacking YOU, they’re just having a bad day.

Make It A Game

Everyone has good and bad parts of them. At any given moment a person is at some point on the good/bad behavior spectrum. Again, where they are depends on things like hunger, sleep and exercise, along with tons of environmental factors – who they’re with, are they outside or inside, how many people are around them. The point is, the person that has treated you like crap, also has a good side to them. So, how do you bring that good side out?

I like to view it as a challenge or a game. The people in the tennis community I’ve been most excited to meet are the ones who don’t always get along with everyone. I like to meet them and challenge myself to uncover their best selves. Usually the best strategy for this is to ask them questions about things they’re interested in, and compliment them over and over. I’ll ask them about their work, or tennis, and compliment them on how good their forehand is. If I win the game, then they’re happier, and I’m happy. It’s a win win. And I never lose the game because I don’t stop playing till I win 🙂

Blame Yourself

Blame yourself for everything. Typically, unpleasant people will be complaining about a problem. People like to have someone to blame for their problem, so usually they’ll blame someone not around to defend themselves. If they’re looking for someone to blame, let them blame you. When someone complains, and you take the blame, they get thrown off. It’s usually the quickest way to defuse the complaint. You can also integrate this with the life as a game one. If someone is unhappy or complaining, I’ll say to myself “what did I do to get this person unhappy, and how can I get them out of it?”


This is the best trick by far. It will make you happier – studies show that smiling releases happiness chemicals in your brain. And it will immediately let down the other person’s guard, as they usually can’t help but smile back.

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David Hilgeman - September 5, 2016

I try to always give people the “benefit of the doubt” in certain social situations where I feel like people are rude – similiar to your number one. Good post.

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