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How to Stop Being Mean

A little feistiness and spirit can be a good quality in a person, but if you continually cross the line, you might earn a reputation as a meanie. Nobody likes to be bullied or disrespected, so you might find the number of people in your life decreasing as your meanness increases. A few changes to the way you look at life and react to situations can help you cork your inner bully and unleash your inner softy.

Imagine how the person you're with feels or thinks. Working on your sense of empathy can help train your brain to not react aggressively, according to a study by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Empathy and violence share the same brain circuitry and increased empathy can influence your reactions for the better.

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Pause before you react. If someone says something you don't agree with, train yourself to stop, think and proceed calmly rather than firing off a quick and mean response. You can still make your point without hurting anyone's feelings and you'll build a reputation as a level-headed, fair person. This takes hard work, but it can be done.

Avoid bringing history into arguments. If your partner didn't wash the dishes, don't make the discussion about every time in the past that she's not done the dishes. Stick to the matter at hand and don't turn a minor discussion into a major argument.

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Perform random acts of kindness for no reason. Pick up the check, send someone a card, buy a gift, give compliments and congratulate people on their successes. Make it a habit to do something kind for someone. It will make you and the recipient feel better.

Learn to be wrong, lose arguments and walk away. It's hard to know when to walk away, but if you don't think you continue without being mean to someone, it's best to not say anything at all. Learn to let others have the last word and don't challenge everything someone says that you don't agree with. It's OK to agree to disagree and it's OK to let someone else be right, even when you don't think they are, for the sake of maintaining peace.

Talk to a counselor or therapist. These professionals help you understand why you're defensive, mean or abusive to those around you. You could be treating someone badly or being mean because of an underlying hurt or emotional issue. Learn to stop using meanness as a defense mechanism to protect yourself.