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20 Easy Ways to Be Less Mean

A little kindness goes a long way.

They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but for many of us, it's a whole lot easier to say whatever we want, regardless of whose feelings we hurt along the way. Unfortunately, this less-than-ideal instinct often means we end up being unkind to the people we love, pushing them away in the process. But breaking the habit is simple. These easy tips will make you less mean, more approachable, and altogether kinder in no time. And when you want to make every day a little brighter, start with the 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy!

Stop Prioritizing Being Right

bad puns

While it may be fun to always feel like you're right, odds are that's not the case. If you want to seem less mean, start by prioritizing being kind over being right. It may be hard at first, but you'll quickly realize that not every discussion needs to see you come out on top. And start on the path toward a happier life today by discovering the 20 Ways You're Making Your Life Way Harder Than it Needs to Be!

Ditch the Discussions About Other People's Appearances

celebrity photo secrets

Want to be less mean without doing anything? Stop commenting on other people's appearances. While you may think that what you're saying is flattering, some people are uncomfortable when they feel like their appearance is being judged. That friend you're praising for their weight loss might be dealing with a health issue, and the one you say "looks tired" might feel just fine—and neither is likely to appreciate your comments. And when you do want to give a little praise, start with the 20 Compliments Women Can't Resist.

Approach People First

Couple Talking Over Coffee Romance

It may be hard to make the first move when you're making new friends, but doing so can make you seem less mean and more approachable in the long run. Instead of waiting for people to come to you, approach them first and introduce yourself; you'll instantly seem nicer and less standoffish. And when you want to expand your social circle, This Is the Best Way to Make New Friends!

Stop the "It Could Be Worse" Train

Couple chatting Bad Dating Marriage Tips

While it may be tempting to tell your friends that their situation could always be worse when they're telling you some harrowing story, being kind means fighting that instinct at any cost. Yes, there will always be horrible things happening in the world, but that doesn't mean your friend can't complain about their annoying trip to the supermarket without hearing about them. And for more ways to be a better conversationalist, here's how to Dazzle Any Gathering with 14 Savvy Small-Talk Tips. 

Take a Deep Breath First

instant mood boosters

Before you start to say something that could be construed as unkind, take a deep breath and think it over first. Taking a deep breath can help you calm down and give you just the amount of time you need to stop and reassess whether or not you need to say the potentially mean comment you were about to spit out.

Think of Positive Things to Say First

Young Happy Woman at Work

Instead of critiquing someone else when you're feeling on edge, try leading with something positive about the person you're talking to. By the time you're done saying something nice, the desire to follow it up with something less-than-kind will have passed. And if you're looking to be nicer to yourself, memorize the 15 Body Positive Affirmations That Actually Work. 

Listen to Other People's Feelings

30 compliments

If you're like most people, you spend more time waiting for your turn to talk than you do listening. Unfortunately, that also means you're not being as kind as you could be when you're lending them an ear. Instead of simply waiting to talk, try to actively listen when your friends are talking to you, and only give your advice if it's asked for. And when you want to make someone's day, start with the 50 Best Compliments to Give People Over 50!

Show Up When You RSVP

Sealed envelope

Want a foolproof way to be less mean? Treat your RSVPs like they're etched in stone. Backing out at the last minute when you've said you'll attend an event is not just bad manners, it's downright mean. And for more etiquette lessons, learn the 23 Old-Fashioned Etiquette Rules That Still Apply!

Don't Confuse Meanness With Honesty

essential dating tips for men over 40

There's a refrain that's repeated ad nauseam by virtually all people with a mean streak: "I'm just being honest." While, in many cases, honesty is the best policy, that doesn't mean you need to share every time you think someone's outfit is ugly, your pal has gained a few pounds, or you hate someone's spouse. Your honesty and other people's feelings do not exist in separate worlds. And remember: There are at least 20 Everyday Things It's Totally OK to Lie About.

Think Before You Judge

people gossiping

It's easy to feel judgmental about other people's behavior, especially when you think you've figured out something about life that they have yet to understand. However, if you want to be a nicer person, try imagining the many things people could judge you about and try to withhold your judgment about others whenever possible.

Don't Follow Your Friends' Bad Examples

group of 30 year-old friends hanging

We often find ourselves following our friends' leads when it comes to unkind behavior. However, if you want to be less mean, try to make sure you're not falling prey to their bad example and try to set a better one by injecting the conversation with some positivity instead.

Focus on What You're Grateful For

40 compliments

A little gratitude goes a long way when it comes to being less mean. The next time you're thinking about how unfair the world is or how horrible your life is, try thinking of the many things you have to be grateful for and those mean thoughts will disappear.

Talk About Yourself, Not Others

happy hour

Want a simple tip for being kinder? Make a choice when you're speaking to only talk about yourself and not others, eliminating any potential trash talk in the process.

Change the Conversation

Happy friends

If you're eager to put an end to your mean streak, try changing the conversation when it starts to veer toward not-so-nice or judgmental subjects. Not sure where to start? Try the 30 Great Ice Breakers That Are Always Hilarious.

Ignore the Need to Comment on Everything

compliments men can't resist

Before you say something unkind, ask yourself the following: is there a good reason for me to comment on this at all? Most of the time, the answer is no, and keeping your opinion to yourself is actually the kinder choice.

Uncross Your Arms

Man sticking to his guns because of his baby, standing firm. He's a better man

Want to seem less mean in an instant? Adjust your body language. Crossed arms are a clear sign to others that you're unapproachable, even if that's not how you feel.

Say Something Kind

not keeping things excited is a mistake married people make

The easiest way to combat mean thoughts is with kind words. When you think someone is wearing a great outfit, has a wonderful personality, or is a joy to be around, let them know.

Be Punctual

Time Being Single in your thirties

While it's not as bad as ignoring your RSVP, being late all the time is pretty rude and can come across as mean. If you want to be a nicer person, make punctuality a priority.

Stop Focusing on Winning

Office dating

Not everything in life is a competition. The sooner you stop acting like every conversation or interaction is one you can win, the sooner you'll find kinder ways to respond.

Discover What You're Actually Mad About

phrases men over 40 should stop saying

Everyone gets upset from time to time, and that's okay. What's not great is lashing out at someone who hasn't done anything because you don't know where to direct your anger. Whenever possible, try figuring out what's actually making you upset and solve that problem before you act out in an unkind way to someone else. And when you want to make every day a little more meaningful, discover The Best Way to Find Your Purpose in Life!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more