The Best Way to Deal with Nasty People

The other day, I was confronted with the strong urge to punch someone in the face. This person was being a dick – as dicks are wont to do – and certainly seemed to deserve it. Now, if you know me personally, you know that there was no chance I’d actually just punch someone in the face, and in the end I gathered myself and walked away. Number one; it was the right thing to do, and number two; I’m not a face-puncher. I wouldn’t win many fights. But the issue here isn’t about actually punching someone in the face for being an asshole; it’s about wanting to do it. And this is an urge most of us experience from time to time.

No matter who you are, where you live, or what type of personality you have, chances are you have enemies. Whether this is your doing or not, it just seems to happen; at some point in one’s life, a relationship (or sometimes many relationships) will form from a mutual dislike. We’re going to assume it’s more their fault than yours, if only because that’s what it always feels like. And this is fine; blame them. I do. They, after all, are the asshole.

The important question here is how to deal with these situations. You certainly can go the face-punching route, but honestly that won’t do much for you long term. You may get momentary satisfaction, but instead of everyone lifting you over their heads and cheering like they do in movies (and probably your imagination), they’ll probably just back away slowly or ask what the hell is wrong with you. Another option is to give the jerkoff a proverbial “piece of your mind,” which can feel outstanding, but public reaction to this is – again – usually lukewarm at best. Something about making a scene.

Physical or verbal violence are never the best option, and as I walked away from the situation in question, I reminded myself of something. No matter what the circumstance, the single best way to deal with nasty people in your life:

Do well.

That’s it. Just do well in whatever you do. You don’t even have to see, talk to, or think about the assholes at large. All you need to do is do your thing, and do it the best you can. Accomplish, achieve, explore, discover, succeed. Win. Decide what you want to do, then go do it. Put in time. Wake up an hour earlier, drink another cup of coffee, and give yourself the extra edge you need to make the world your bitch. Try something new, try harder at something you already do, or try to do less of something that’s detrimental to you. Turn off the TV, get off your ass, and do. Read, create, and be curious. Stop worrying about failing, and instead actually fail. Then learn, try again, and succeed. After that, succeed more. Unhook the plow, unchain the shackles, and let the beast out.  

These things are the best way to get back at the people that don’t like you, because seeing you succeed kills those people. They hate it. Your happiness, positive energy, and overall prosperity carry more weight than any number of punches in the face or roundhouse kicks. Use it. Chase your bliss and find your inner ninja while those other bastards watch from the sidelines. Ignore them and succeed, and their blood will boil. This isn’t about rubbing it in, either; you don’t need to. You don’t need to deal with them in any way, because they’re insignificant. They don’t count. And anyway, they’ll know.

What counts is that you identify what you want in life, and then wake up every damn day and bust your ass in pursuit of that goal. Rise, flourish, and hone your craft. Thrive. Hell, go for a vacation. Take a drive. Find something new. Expand your mind and grow as a human being. The rest will follow.

These things take time, and the gratification is exponentially more delayed than a snap reaction to a nasty person. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t exponentially more satisfying.

Why should you trust my advice? Honestly, I can’t say that you should. You have no reason to. I haven’t lived that long, haven’t had many exponential successes, and haven’t even punched anyone in the face (and thus wouldn’t truly know the feeling). But don’t take my word for it – try it. Put away the retaliation and the snarky responses and the stooping to their level for a minute, and take the high road. Stop worrying about how you’ll respond to asshole comments, or what you’ll say to make him or her feel as bad as they make you feel. Live your life, find your happiness and succeed at what you do. Kick tomorrow’s ass. And if you don’t find it a billion times more satisfying, then try a different approach. But I bet you won’t need to.

Just do well.


  1. Adam Bianchi06-21-2012

    Great post Sam! This is now hanging in my office as inspiration!

  2. Katie Reusink06-21-2012

    I love this! It’s so unbelievably true! :)

  3. Jason Deas06-21-2012

    Awesome post. I’m printing this out for those days I’m feeling lazy or blue.

    And it looks as though it’s working for you. How does it feel to be a few spots better than a Bill Bryson book on the Amazon chart? Pretty cool, huh? Rock on, bro!

  4. Sam06-21-2012

    Thanks so much guys. Jason, it has been pretty fun. The promos have worked so far, hoping I can keep some momentum going. Cheers!

  5. I can’t believe that… after 4 days, there’s but 4 comments on this… arguably BRILLIANT bundle of prose.

    Seriously Sam:

    “…the single best way to deal with nasty people in your life: Do well.”

    Among the top 3 most eloquently thoughtful posts I’ve stumbled across all year.

    Thanks for the reminder. Like everybody else w/ a heartbeat, I too have bumped into my fair share of the “a” folks. Ah but as I head off shortly on my latest adventure – a month hanging out w/ the “Eagle Hunters” in western Mongolia – I can’t help but feel that I’m indeed (at the tender age of 60+) living my own personal version of “do well”. 😉

  6. Jessica Schwager06-27-2012

    Loved this. I’m printing this off and putting it on my desk for a reminder. Like you, I’d never actually punch someone. Usually I just cry alone in my office. But from now on, I’m kickin’ those tears to the curb and just focusing on myself and doing well. Thanks, Sam! It’s always a pleasure reading your posts!

  7. Deric07-12-2012

    I wonder what I did to make you so mad….

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