How To Deal With Crappy People, PART TWO

Crappy people have a way of making us feel small and needy

I hate you and I never even met you. That’s my gut reaction when I open my eyes in the morning. That gut reaction is sent out into the cosmic psychic layer of the planet to seven billion people. Trust me when I say stuff like that. Claudia even snores in reaction when it happens. I have to summon back the demons or it would be too overwhelming. It’s no easy job to hate everyone. To judge constantly. To see people on the street and know all the ways they’re going to be crappy to me so I better hide in my room.

When I did my post on how I deal with this: “How to Deal with Crappy People” it turns out that it became the most popular post on this site.

It turns out everyone is dealing with crappy people. Not just me.   Sometimes they are incredibly painful to us. It really hurts to be hurt. To be ignored. To be gossiped about, to be slandered. It really hurts when people lie about you or they try to actively harm your career or progress in life. Every day I think someone attempts to hurt me.

Since that post came out, the most common question I am asked is: what if the crappy person is your boss? Or someone you work with? Or someone you live with? In other words, what if the person who is actively trying to harm you, who probably hates you to the core of your being, is someone you or forced to deal with every day?

Let me say this: the crappy person is ALWAYS someone you have to deal with. If he were just your neighbor down the street who you see once every six months, then no big deal. You know what to do: ignore them. Ignoring is a bit harder when they are a work colleague. Or a boss. Or someone in your social group. My initial advice there is still: ignore them. Do the minimal contact: “hello” and nod and walk away. But stay on a constant path of ignoring towards that person. Ignore them in your head also. It’s a horrible thing to wake up hating. To go to sleep afraid. To go into work morose. To hang out with your friends hoping so-and-so doesn’t show up.

And once I started writing this blog I got a lot more hatemail. A lot more people writing in public forums negative things about me. I had to re-read my own post about Crappy People over and over. Maybe that’s why it’s the most popular post on this blog. I’ve probably re-read it one million times.

I had to really think about all the hatemail, hate comments, hate articles, and even people close to me who didn’t like what I was writing so started slandering or worse behind my back. Over time I had to develop more techniques to deal with the onslaught.

It became a two-step process for me:

A) Look in a mirror. Let’s say you make the statement, “Jill hates me” and so now she is crappy towards me. Let’s see what it looks like when you put that statement up in front of a mirror. There’s several ways it can come back in our prismed mirror:

Hold a mirror up to yourself to deal with these crappy people

(looking in the mirror)

1) Maybe “Jill likes me” but she’s jealous or afraid or intimidated. Or maybe I misinterpreted her actions. Remember that people are largely unconscious. They are just as afraid, just as judgmental, just as scared about life as the other seven billion people. Maybe Jill is in a bad relationship. Maybe Jill was beaten as a little girl. So she has a hard time trusting people and showing how she likes people.Maybe I’m also blowing out of proportion some events but I’m forgetting all the times Jill clearly liked me. Because we are biological animals, avoiding the predators that are after us, our brains tend to blow out of proportion the negative moments. There’s the saying: “historical equals hysterical”. You ever meet someone who can outline every wrong you’ve made since 1990? They like you. But they’ve blown out of proportion all the times they think they’ve been wronged by you.

2) No? That’s not it? Ok, maybe “I hate Jill”. Maybe the reason I have such problems with Jill is because I hate her and I’m not even conscious of it. Ask yourself, “why would I hate Jill?” Maybe I am jealous of her. Or overly judgmental. Again, the things I have interpreted as crappy might just be because she senses how much I hate her.Maybe I haven’t even been conscious of how I’ve been treating her. That happens. If you’re Jill, I’m sorry.

3) “Jill hates Jill”. It’s hard for Jill to be nice to anyone. She looks in the mirror every day and says, “Ugh, I’m disgusting. I hate myself.” How is she going to recover from that in time to be nice to people during the day. She can’t. Liking others starts with liking yourself. But what if Jill has control over my career? Or she’s my roommate’s best friend so I have to see her all the time and she takes out all her anger for herself on me? That’s fine. You don’t have to be her best friend. All you have to do this very second is figure out where the “crappiness” is coming from.

4) “I hate me”. My normal state of affairs. Perhaps I make it too easy for people to be crappy to me. Because I always thought I was ugly so I think its easy for a girl to not like me. Or I always feel like I’m “faking it” so it’s easy for people not to trust me. I used to think projection was a myth. The idea that we treat people the way we would treat ourselves. We project our worst features onto other people and then attack them accordingly. But when I studied many of the hatemails I was getting, even so far as to researching their backgrounds (particularly on actual death threats), I realized that many people had trouble dealing with their own lives and careers and loves and decisions and so would attack my life or loves or decisions as if I were them.

Crappy people often make me hate myself

Again, this doesn’t mean I have to hang out with these people. Or love them. Or even treat them with compassion. But it helps to take the unconscious surface reality (“Jill Hates Me”) and put it through various mirrors. Like in a circus where you walk through the mirror tent and see yourself as fat, small , skinny, tall, etc. You’re none of those things. But you’re all of them.

So what do we do with these mirrors. We’ve maybe figured some stuff out. Or maybe we’ve just confused the issue. Either way, the anger starts to dissipate.

B) Deal With it. If someone is crappy to you, then 99% chance it’s for one of the above four reasons. And you can’t change them. So you have to be able to deal with more crap from them. Because they will do it again. You have two choices now:

1) Always remove yourself from them. Quit your job. Get new friends. Say “hello” in the hallway and move on. If its an ex, then no problem. Don’t return calls. Whatever. But often this is not practical.

2) Say, “I look forward to the next time Jill is crappy towards me.” Because she will be. And there’s nothing you can do about it. She is crappy for 1 or all 4 of the above reasons. She is completely unconscious about it. A walking zombie. Not worth your time to think about.

Each time she is crappy to you it gives you an opportunity to learn from it, to study it, to define which of the 4 above applies (maybe all four!), put the crappiness in it’s appropriate bucket and move on. It gives you a chance to practice your own independence. Why are you letting Jill rule your whole life? Are you that insipid that it only takes Jill, who is a zombie,  to throw you completely off your game for days at a time?

If you practice taking your usual reaction to crappiness (as in “ARRGG! I HATE HER!”) and study it from every angle, the normal feelings of dread and anger will start to wither away over time.Our bodies are 70% water. Our planet is mostly water. Water hitting this planet from unknown asteroids created life and then consciousness on this planet. Water, over time, withers away all rocks. You be the water. Don’t be the rock.

Jill has become your greatest teacher. Be grateful for her. Your life will  become better for knowing someone as crappy as Jill. Now, with all the new time you have, go enjoy yourself. And if your name is Jill, go fuck yourself.


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  • Oh James – you are epically awesome with regard to your opening, content and closing! Thank you for revisiting this topic. In the same amount of time, I’ve journeyed as you’ve outlined in the above post. “Jill” took what little income I was clinging to and forced me to look far and wide, open other possibilities that were uncomfortable to consider. I was happy to barely get by for a short amount of time, and now, it full steam ahead to wherever professional employment can be found again. I love the David Foster Wallace intimation of “be the water.” “What is water?” asked the young fish. “Look around.” said the old fish. Thank you for this post today! Thank you!

  • Kate

    this is amazing.  brilliant. inspiring. smart. and i am so glad my name is not Jill ;)   I do most of this rationalization naturally somehow but have yet to be able to explain it to others.  I am sharing this with a few specific people who think i am crazy for ignoring or ‘intellectualizing’ people who they feel i should hate.
    p.s. your logic/method also applies to random people who are, say, bad drivers, cut you off in line, can’t get your order straight at a restaurant, etc.  since you have to be around them (most of the time).

    •  Hi Kate! I don’t know if all women “rationalize” an unpleasant or undesirable set of circumstance, but for me and I’ve learned Nora Ephron, this is just how we were put together. What’s to explain? Inherent advantage, yes – hard work – but I find a deeper understanding, even if only as to organize thoughts. All the best to you!

  • Li

    James, your post is the exact reason why I meditate.  There are a million crappy people out there, but we still have the power to let them affect us or not.  I do believe that self hate and projection is the main reason why we have difficulty with people.  Thanks for bringing this topic back to people’s awareness.  

  • Best ending to anything I’ve ever read. Excellent stuff, James.

  • Jill

    My name is Jill and thank you, I will fuck myself…feeling a little anxious…  I never fell for the marriage scam so I possess this one advantage after coming out a crappy prison of my own making due to crappyness experienced growing up.  I am single.  I call the shots in my life of who, when, where and how.  I walk down the red carpet every day and when I walk into a room I do not have to call attention to myself because I already have the worlds attention.  All I have to do is respond to it.

    I was crappy but now I’m not.  I am “In the Moment Before Abby Road”.

    Only thing left is to figure out how to secretly fuck myself while on the “killer routine” 9 to 5 job workin for the “man”, or better yet work out how to lose the 9 to 5 and have the freedom to invent creative ways to fuck and be fucked.

    • tm

      Why even be secretive? You should fuck yourself at your 9 to 5, and let everyone see!

  • kamalravikant

    This is amazing, James.  In the end, it’s all about us, isn’t it?  We control our actions and reactions, what happens inside our head, which is the only reality we know.  

    Someone once told me that if I find myself judging someone in my head, to add the words, “just like me” at the end of the judgement.  And then see how that affects my judging.  

    Lots of truth in this post.  Thank you for this.

  • Suzanne

    I wish you just had 50 parts on how to deal with crappy people. It gets me through the days when people are just horrible to me and “I just don’t know why”. I needed to read that it can, in fact, be because of me.

  • kf

    can I add a #5 to this list? 
    5)Maybe  “Jill just needs to get laid”

    therefore, your closing suggestion is quite therapeutic

  • C Pennybrown

    Very timely post for me.  I recently realized that I am “the crappy person” in someone’s life. And worst of all, I thought we were really friends.

    Am I that bad at relationships?  Looks like it.

    Because this is a painful realization, I have tried not think about it.  But that just felt like avoidance or denial.  And besides, it didn’t work.

    Then I tried to be glad about it.  FInally, I thought something momentous has occurred. I was wallowing in my hurt.  

    Now after reading your post, I will try re-framing “my story” and looking at the different prisms.

    • Roy


      Being self aware is the first step to improvement!

    • Wow! I give huge props to anyone with that level of self-insight! It’s funny how sometimes people don’t know how their behavior is perceived or how it affects others. I remember I once saw a consistently crappy person heading my way on a day when I just wasn’t up to dealing. And when she reached me I said, “If you’ve come to bitch at me can we please reschedule for tomorrow? Because honestly, I just can’t take it today.”

      She was stunned. She said, “Do I bitch at you?” and everyone around us just stared at her. We *could not believe* that she truly didn’t know what an incredible pain in the ass she was! But she didn’t. And she apologized and changed her behavior. It was an incredible lesson for me!

  • Slygoldberg

    When I go to the bathroom and drop a duece, and don’t wipe, does that make me a crappy person?

  • Even worse than crappy people are stupid people. I used to have to deal with them all the time, and I hated it.

    Crappy people you could just ignore

  • P_Jaunne

    I noticed that the world, in which Jill and others and everything reside, tend to be crappier when I am in any kind of unhappy mood. 

    So,……maybe there is no Jill.  Maybe it’s all in my head.  So, maybe it’s completely my own responsibility for feeling crappy or happy.  It’s not even caused by Jill. Because, whatever I think/perceived about Jill is completely conjured up in my own head.  Jill is my own creation! So, Jill is not the problem.  I am the problem by virtue of creating Jill and turning her into a crappy one. So, maybe I can forgive myself for making stuff up about Jill. Since I like to project my judgement outward, maybe by forgiving Jill, I, in effect forgive myself.  Then I forgive myself for making false judgement about Jill, about the world, and about myself. Then maybe I won’t feel crappy anymore. 

    This is kinda convoluted. I think I saw Deepak Chopra said something similar to this on PBS.  But isn’t that what buddhism or some other eastern spiritual teachings teach? How do you reconcile spiritual metaphysical teaching with worldly experience (that feels so real) in which we actually have to deal with Jill, whether or not Jill’s crappyness is metaphysically created in our own head (mind) or not.

    •  You should look into Sikhism and Gurbani in Sikhism. Gurbani says, “No one is my enemy, and no one is a stranger
      to me. I get along with everyone” –  People consumed with
      conflict (Rosay-Gilay), resentment, hatred etc. are called Manmukh
      (material or unenlightened beings) in the Gurbani. The Gurbani tells us that the
      One Creator (Kartaa Purukh) is the Support of the entire Universe. It simply
      means that Creation and Creator are not different. But our body and mind (false
      ego-sense, Haume, corrupt consciousness etc.) create the barrier, which
      is the cause of apparent differences. When this barrier is transcended, the notion
      of differences disappear.”

  • dmp

    Just emailed this to my ex. Yeah, you can guess what her name is.

  • Hmm… I thought of something useful when counseling my own self on whether to put up with someone’s crap or not.  I asked myself how I would feel if one of my beloved children were being treated the same way, and how I would feel if they put up with it, put time and energy into interacting with the terribly crappy person, and how I would feel about their pain.

    I would tell them in .01 second to ditch the crappy person and never encourage that person again.  They should never spend more than a second voluntarily absorbing pain from an ill-intentioned person who is only out to hurt them.

    So I did the same and told the person (on my blog) who was obviously out to hurt me (after giving “Jill” multiple chances as I would have advised my own children NOT to do) to cease contacting me because I was not going to tolerate any more of her treatment and since several chances had been given to clean up her act, I simply didn’t want to hear from her again.  Previously, I would have found this harsh.. but after the above mental test it was a simple decision.

    My brother said about receiving a second email from a particularly critical, shaming, scolding relative (by marriage) “I skimmed the beginning and it looked negative so I just deleted it.”  Then he deleted each subsequent email unread.  My brother rocks – I should aspire to be like him.

  • I hope to one day write as well as you do o.O

  • Dan

    I think that in many situations a good alternative for dealing with a crappy person is to have a “crucial conversation”. Most people follow their fight-or-flight instinct, but those aren’t the only avenues. Check out the books “Crucial Conversations” and “Crucial Confrontations”

  • If I find a person crappy by my standards (the definition of the crappy person is always relative) I always find them being very consistent with their crappy behavior. Since their crappy behavior is consistent, it does not annoy me or scare me that much anymore as I will know exactly what to expect from them, from their behavior and I am already mentally prepared. That alone already helps not to get too excited about the crappy people.

    It is only challenging until you figure out the “new” crappy people… :-)

    It would be interesting to see that if for a week every person in the world would ignore everybody they consider crappy people (worldwide honesty week), in average how much less interactions we would have in a day?

    • Yeah, but the thing about crappy people whom you *have* to deal with every day and can’t just ignore, is that constantly, deliberately, choosing to be the bigger person requires enormous focus and self-discipline. And you know what? It’s exhausting! Even if you’re pretty good at it for long stretches of time, there’ll still be the day when you’re tired, or feeling ill, or are already feeling overwhelmed before they start in on you. And once you let yourself be affected, then it can take days to get yourself back on track.

      I mean honestly . . . haven’t we all just got better things to do with our time, focus and energy?

      • Yes it is enormously hard and some days feels impossible. But I think constantly and deliberately choosing to be the bigger person is exactly what we should be doing with our time, focus and energy. I think that is what were are meant to learn on this planet, for this life. Don’t you? We are all stuck here together and the greatest gift we can give each other is to be kind.

  • I like this article.  In the end regardless of how much we complain about the actions of others towards us, we are in control.  We may not be able to control them at the moment, but we can control ourselves by not giving them power.  One important thing we have to remember is that the law of Cause and Effect is always in operation.  Crappy people do not realize that “What Goes Around, Comes Around”.  I have seen some of the most egotistical and difficult people eventually fall.  Nothing lasts forever.  

  • Jon

    Your best work James!

    I am sorry to hear that people are so horrible to you sometimes. Although in a way it makes me feel better to know that other people have trouble dealing with these things to.

  • Unless the other person is an attractive member of the opposite sex, I will not like them.

    And when they ignore me, I’ll dislike them too.

  • Roy

    James…This was another thought provoking and insightful post.

    I have a question for you and our community here.

    Do you think that we are also partially responsible for all the Jill’s in our life

    I once read a book that the bully and the victim are drawn to each other.

    Take it from me….I have been verbally bullied and picked on. I have been abused and mistreated and taken advantage of.

    And the whole time I was a “good guy”.  I was the nice guy. And yet I had alot of crappy people in my life.

    I am not talking about the occasional crappy or rude stranger that everyone comes across. I am talking about people who are always around you and are always crappy.

    Perhaps I was too passive or submissive.

    Once I began to stand up for myself, thats when things began to change….wheres before I would just tolerate the mistreatment and keep quiet.

    We have to go back to Kamal Ravikant’s question…..”If I truly love myself, would I allow this in my life.”

    Have you seen the movie Dogville….its insightful.

    Its about this sweet girl who everyone accepts and likes at first. However, little by little, all the people around her begin to pick on her and boss her around and mistreat her and take advantage of her.

    Even the people who are “good” end up mistreating her.

    Its almost like its human nature…that if you give anyone  enough space they will try to control you and try to trample on you (no matter how decent they are).

    The lesson here is that alot of people are crappy towards us because we (you and I) let them to be.

    Stop the fear…..dont be oppressed and stand up for yourself, and you will see alot of crappy people will get away from you….

    What do you guys think?

    • Roy

      I found this app to help you get unstuck in your emotional troubles

      Its free

    • It’s an interesting question, Roy. I hate it when people say, “Oh, that’s just human nature” about every crappy thing that people do. I want to believe that our higher natures are our “true” nature and that the bad stuff is when we slip into unconsciousness of our own behavior.

      BUT, I know from experience, that choosing to be the bigger person, and being tolerant and forgiving, and modeling the behavior we hope that others will mirror simply doesn’t work with bullies. They see tolerance and forgiveness as passivity and they will walk all over you until you put a stop to it.

      So I don’t know.  

  • Sandra

    Hi James,

    Most of the time I read your blog on the way home from work (commuting, not driving). I really enjoyed the post and  laughed when I read the last sentence. I laughed even more when I read the posts by dmp, kf, and “Jill”. It made for an enjoyable ride home. Thanks.

  • I agree with William James’s definition of reality. He called it “pure experience”, that is, the product of the interaction between something, or someone, and the subject who experiences it, or him or her.
    In that sense, “crappiness” (if that is even a word) is the product of the interaction between you (or me) and Jill, and it couldn’t exist without you, (or me), and Jill.
    Therefore, even if Jill went screw herself, she’d be like a f…ing boomerang which would describe a hemicircle, assume the semblance of Mary, and come back to unload some crap on you, (or me).  

  • LOL’d at the end there.  Was not expecting that.

    I don’t have any sense of being hated, and I don’t hate any individual.  There are plenty of people I don’t like, who I think are generally crappy, and who I therefore avoid (or limit interaction with to the extent possible).  But I am, after 18 years of yoga, a generally happy person and I have the ability to withdraw from the public eye.

    You have kind of torpedoed the latter for yourself.  I think you have considerable courage to write as honestly as you do.  I wish the people who send death threats or just garden-variety hate mail could really see themselves in the mirror.

  • OMG, best ending ever! So about the hate mail . . . it’s interesting that the more popular you’ve become, the more hate mail you receive. Do you think the *proportion* is about the same? I mean, there’s always going to be a certain percentage, right? So in a way, you could actually view the increase in the actual (raw) number of hateful communications as a success problem.

    And really, all things being equal, wouldn’t you rather be dealing with success problems instead of failure problems?

  • mgmarino

    Nice subliminal Bill Burr reference in the last sentence !

  • soyroberto

    I didn’t feel like read it the whole thing, only read the final part, maybe it’s than I’m really sick. So far my favorite is the 1st article about crappy people, Cheers from Australia

  • knitizen

    you are so funny. and right!

  • KK

    Cant believe i missed this post a few days ago. Simply Awesome! James does it again.

  • I loved the article, and the ending gave me a great laugh. Thank you.

  • Nick

    I think this is great, but I would add a caveat: sometimes people genuinely aren’t aware of how they’re perceived or the effects their behavior has on others. So, sometimes people aren’t as crappy as you think. A part of me thinks one owes a crappy person some feedback before cutting ties as you suggest. (Delivered in the most constructive way possible, and I’m not a clinical psychologist, so I won’t pretend this is easy.) It can be hard to remember when you’re in the middle of one of these situations, but the other person can’t read your mind. Now, if the behavior doesn’t change after you deliver the feedback, then the other person can absolutely go fuck themselves. But people can surprise you if given the benefit of the doubt.

    • demelzabunny

      What if what you tell them is completely disregarded? Often crappy people think they know it all, and you, you dummy, aren’t going to be able to enlighten them, because, surely, they don’t need enlightening!

  • kaunain raza

    “And if your name is Jill, go fuck yourself”. wowowowow u r a true motivator with lots of humour.. i am sure James u might have laughed a lot typing this particular line.. lol

  • wendy

    thanks i needed this info

  • Sam

    lol I love it! I know a “Jill” and she applies to the first point you made. And I can only agree that when you realize the motives behind their “douche” actions, it has less affect on you. Kind of like studying a wild animal in their natural habitat: “oh Jill, its interesting you say things like that or act a certain way, because I know EXACTLY why..” how predictable, and comforting..

  • I had to read this again as a daily reminder

  • Robin

    Do you feel anything besides contempt?

  • anonYmous

    Adam Carolla once talked about something like this on his podcasts, essentially he said the key to dealing with people that are crappy who like to extract their “pound of flesh” is to make the interaction more painful or more trouble then what the little pound of flesh they can get from you costs them. An example he gave was one of his neighbors constantly complained about oddities he was doing, like a front security light that shined in her houses general direction; living alone at the time he came to his door when she knocked in his boxers and she started leaving him alone.

    The point is, Jill is getting what she wants at some level, you are not. You want a peaceful calm day with less drama, so in order to get to that point you have to do a little work.

    What I’ve found, the root of this problem is always Jill wants to do as little work as possible to get though the day and accomplish her goals. Ultimately, Jill will do whatever it takes to get though her day as easy as possible and if that means she is off-putting towards you then so be it.

    Another thing that I’ve noticed in life is that all interactions with people are like driving down a road, once injustice is done in the past, that changes the direction of the relationship going forward, say for example, boss makes you take a personal vehicle to run business errands without compensation(which may or may not be legal in all states) once the initial injustice is done its hard to go back on it. Next time your boss says go drop this off here, its harder to say no because you’ve done it in the past. So oftentimes nice people are put upon with undue burdens and they are not even aware of it, then once they do become aware of it its hard if not impossible to go back on it. The problem with these injustices is deception is always used for the aggressor to get the nice person to do their bidding.

    When the relationship gets soured to the point where its miserable oftentimes it cannot be repaired. You should know what Jill likes and dislikes, find out what it is without arousing her suspicion. Once you do, start micro-analyzing Jill for the little things that she does that seems nice or pleasant to you. Once you see one, reward her for that. Often times just discussing the ramifications of if she had not done x or y are good enough, maybe its a compliment. Its different for everyone. The second thing, start finding little things that Jill can help you with, or favors she can do that require very little time or effort, start out very small and infrequent and try to progress towards bigger things. Its hard to be mean to someone that you are doing favors for and vice versa. In other words turning the table. You have to be patient, it can take years to repair a work relationship or any relationship that has soured.

  • kali

    Thanks for the article! many crappy ppl make me feel bad , but after read your article, I feel better , and i will read it when meet Jill again !