Dear Madame L,
There's a guy in the gym where I work out who is always rude and negative, and besides that he breaks all the rules of the gym, for instance diving into the pool after sitting (and sweating) in the sauna, right under the sign that says "NO DIVING" and the other sign that says "Please Shower Before Entering the Pool."
When he talks to me, I try to be polite and engage him in a normal conversation, but he always ends up saying something insulting or mean. By the way, he's not this way with other people, and he only does this with me when there's no one else around.
How should I deal with this person?
Dear Fed Up,
Madame L congratulates you for your courage and politeness in the face of such rudeness. However, Madame L thinks you should never have put up with this behavior from the beginning.
Madame L will not advise you to point out to the rude person the signs he's ignoring because (of course) he would only ignore you, too, or worse, find new ways of insulting you.
Madame L will advise you to leave whenever this man comes into any area where you may encounter him without other folks nearby. You don't have to do it rudely or loudly or with facial expressions of dislike or disgust. Just get up and leave. Don't worry about offending him, and, more importantly, don't worry that this will mean you're being afraid or cowardly. You're just taking charge over your own well-being while denying him the opportunity to bully you.
And it won't keep you from accomplishing your own fitness goals. He won't be in any place long enough to keep you from working out, swimming, enjoying the sauna, or whatever you want to do.
Additionally, Madame L is confident that this bully IS this way with other people, but only when others are not around, same as he is with you. As you get to know people in that environment, you will hear from them, and they will strengthen you. A time will come when you can converse with him without feeling bullied, and at that time the words will come to you, if you need to say anything.
Meanwhile, Madame L thinks you may enjoy this answer, by one of her problem-solving heroes, Cary Tennis, to the same question. It is essentially the same answer Madame L has given to you:. Shut the man down. Don't let him into your world. What do you care what he thinks?