How do I deal with others who are being mean to others even when the people/person being mean thinks they are just joking around?
Hi, Brent–@Brent1! First, I want to say welcome to Connect. I’m glad you found us here, and I think you have a great question. I think many people deal with this on a daily basis and are probably wondering the same thing. I love and commend your obvious heart and concern for others!
Before responding, I want to ask a couple of questions to get a better understanding of your relationship with the others involved. The ones who are “being mean” while thinking they are joking around–are they friends of yours or just acquaintances? How well do you know them?
Hello! They could be said to be friends but not close friends. I would say they are more acquaintances then friends. Thanks
Okay, thanks, Brent. Since they are more acquaintances than friends, I would gather that you don’t really know where they are spiritually. Would that be correct? Or do you know whether they profess to be Christians or not? The reason I ask is because there is going to be a different approach depending on the answer to the question of where they are spiritually. It would also be helpful if you could let us know an age range, and is it girls or guys or a mix of both? The answer to these questions will also affect the approach. Before any approach, though, prayer beforehand to ask God for wisdom and guidance is most important. He knows people’s hearts. He knows what they need and when and how they need it.
I was talking with my husband, and he said when he was in college, he and his friend liked to pick on people a lot. It was how they showed affection. They never realized it could ever come across poorly to some, but someone called them out on it. Because they were known to be professing Christians, the person was able to address them on a spiritual level, asking them if they thought their behavior was the best way of showing the love of Christ. They realized it was not and worked to change how they approached people.
However, if those of which we speak in your situation are not Christians, it might be good to acknowledge that they are just trying to have fun but then to point out that sometimes even fun can get to be a little too much and go a little overboard and that, especially with everything going on in the world today, a person just never knows how someone is going to react to our joking around if it’s going too far. Make sure to let them know that you have concern for their well-being, too, not just for those they are joking around with. Then if they aren’t Christians, it would be good to do the best you can to keep the lines of communication open–to work at having conversations with them. What do they care about? What are their concerns? Their goals in life? Then there is a chance for opportunity to talk about Jesus.
Since I don’t know much about the people you are talking about (age range, gender, etc) and the situation, I think this is the best I can offer so far. But if you can give me more to go on, we can continue conversing if you’d like. Hopefully what I’ve given you so far is at least a little helpful.
Looking forward to hearing from you. I am praying for and over you and this situation and all involved.
Thanks for the reply! It has been helpful. Thanks
Anytime, Brent! Thank you so much for your question!
I want to emphasize and expand on something @psalm151ls said in her excellent response. Sometimes that is how people show affection, and the intentions behind their “jokes” can be to show affection. This does not mean you have to endure their jabs, but how you approach finding a resolution should start with that understanding. To give an example, my friends and I used to joke around like this a lot. One friend, we would joke around with him about his weight. He wasn’t even that overweight. We probably weighed about the same actually. However, one day, he came to me and told me that when I would joke about his weight, it would really bother him. I never did it again. I didn’t want to hurt my friend; it was just a way to bond (in a dogs-wrestling-with-each-other kind of way.) If these people are your friends, then expressing this particular type of joke really hits you in a vulnerable place, then they should stop. If they don’t, then I would reduce the amount of time I spend around those people if possible. People like this, like myself when I was younger, could benefit having it explained to them the effect their words can have on other people. Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!
Hey @Brent1, we humans have a tremendous capacity to hurt one another. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, and even sometimes by doing nothing (a sin of omission).
We don’t have control over other peoples behavior, only our own. And I like that your question focused on what you could do. That is very wise.
I think one thing you could do is affirm in positive ways those who are the butt of the jokes, as a counterbalance to the behavior of the others. It will not negate the harmful things that have been said, but it will show that not everyone in the world is a bully.
Another thing all of us can do is model better behavior. That’s a key element here on RZIMConnect, how to dialog respectfully. Show respect in all your interactions. Let everyone see how much you value them, even the bullies. Be the salt and light of Jesus in the situation.
It’s tough to approach people who act badly, because inevitably we become the center of their focus. One thing to consider is their motive for the way they treat others. Are they following a pattern set by others? Are they trying to feel better about themselves by making fun of others? Often behaviors, especially extreme behaviors, are a mask for the true way a person feels inside. Showing the bullies that they are valuable human beings and don’t need to act out could bring about a big change in everyone’s circumstances.
And simply, be a friend. The kind of friend you want for yourself, be that for others. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Seek God and ask him for strength, courage, wisdom and insight. And to guide your steps. God is good and He will provide.