We would all love to surround ourselves with people that we like and get along with easily. People who care about, love and support us. People who would mind their own business, not be critical and give us sound advice when we need it. People who enrich our lives, make us happy and help us be successful. Unfortunately, life does not work that way. In reality, we always end up having to deal with a mix of such people along with all other sorts of unpleasant types on a daily basis. There’s the nosy neighbor, the grouchy bus driver, the bothersome colleague, the stern boss, the rude waitress and many more.
It would be ideal if we could pick and choose as we please but that is not always possible. Sometimes we can show certain people the exit door from our life, but sometimes that is not an option. Members of our family, our neighbors, our work colleagues and others are people who are there to stay … whether we like it or not! Given that we have to deal with them anyway then we should come up with a plan of how to do so without having a nervous breakdown as a result!
The following is the framework I was able to build for myself based on my past experience, level of patience, character and personality. I believe that, although we are all generally different, we also tend to have more in common than we care to admit. So maybe some of the points below apply to you as well … yet again, maybe not.
1- The Chronic Complainer: Oh, I cannot even begin to count how many people (friends and family in particular) fit this type! Those are usually fault-finding people who feel better blaming things on others so that they relieve themselves of any responsibility regarding the situation they are in. Sometimes it really is not their fault, but other times it is! The first thing you should do is listen attentively. Let them tell you everything they wish to say and show them that you care. Don’t try to defend the situation, yourself (if you are the “other” person) or whoever is being complained about. Don’t start to propose solutions because they will only be met with more complaints about why they aren’t valid or possible. Try to stir the conversation in a direction where, through you asking a series of “clarifying” questions, the complainer gets a clearer view of the situation at hand and starts to see that maybe you have a point. If all else fails, just show them how sorry you are that they are going through what they are going through. Whatever you do, don’t agree with the complaints though because you will only be making the situation worse and reinforcing their false sense of victimization.
2- The People Pleaser: Those are people who would do anything to make others like and approve of them. I feel sorry for such people, I really do. There is no way that one person can please every single person they deal with or meet. In order to even come close to doing so, they would have to tear themselves apart both mentally and emotionally. It’s an unnecessary burden that they put on their own shoulders. I usually sympathize with such people and try to always hint to them how wonderful I know they are and that they should let their true personality shine through. Needless to say, of course, they never do let that happen. I end up just being extra sweet to them and show them that I appreciate the effort they are making.
3- The Hostile Being: Some people are just tense! You feel it the minute you say “good morning” to them on the elevator. You always feel like they will snap at you any second now. Most of the time their attitude has nothing to do with you as an individual, it’s more about them than the people around them. You need to deal with them with strength and tact. Tact by not aggravating them or getting on their bad side. Any word you say, any move you make may be counted against you and set them off. So you need to be mindful of everything you say or do around them. Also, ignoring them is not the way to go because it’ll insult them and that will lead to more anger! You need strength to face them should they go off on you and lots of patience to be able to calm them down and keep them in check during a conversation. You also need the skill of diversion, try to divert their anger away from you by keeping them occupied or getting them interested in something that will occupy their minds long enough to calm them down.
4- The Oh-So-Sweet: Those are people who are always sweet, no matter what. They are just, and I hate to say it because I know I will sound mean, too pleasant! They’re sweet when they are sick, when on a deadline, when they have been told off by the boss and even when they have been fired. They just don’t know how to be … not sweet! I cannot handle such people as well as I’d like. I tend to be OK with them until I cannot take it anymore and distance myself. It’s not that I don’t like happy, upbeat people … it’s just not normal and that freaks me out! I am still working on this one and would love to receive any advice from others who know how to deal with such people. Please!
5- The Obnoxious: You know that person who is always and forever annoying? They are annoying no matter where they are, what the situation is and what’s going on! They are annoying in person, on the phone and over email. Well, the best thing to do with such person is keep it short. Whether it’s a visit, call or electronic correspondence … keep it short. The more time you give such a person the bigger the trap you are setting up for yourself. Be nice, courteous and to the point then run as fast as you can in the other direction 🙂
6- The Know-It-All: I challenge you to find one person, just one, who doesn’t know a know-it-all. Want a hint, look for them in the next cubicle or in your building. You can possibly find them about a generation or two ahead of you in your family. Those are people who believe that they know everything about everything! And they don’t need you to tell them otherwise. They usually behave as if they are superior to you, are very critical and sarcasm is their game. The best way to beat them isn’t through words, it’s through actions. Don’t tell them that you have a better solution for that work issue, show it to them. If you start talking, it’ll be like talking to deaf person because they will pay absolutely no attention to what you are saying and will make fun of anything they hear by chance. On the other hand, if you show them the positive outcome, they won’t be able to utter a word … well, maybe they’ll say you got lucky, but that’s pretty much it 😉
7- The Nosey: You know that neighbor or aunt who knows everything about everybody plus a little additional spices that she tops the stories with to add some more flavor? Those people are like home-invaders in my eyes! I’m a very, very, very private person so people of this type are my nemesis. If I can I always cut them out of my life because there is just no maneuvering around them. If I can’t, then I clam up and whenever I am asked anything I give the broadest answer I can; “thank God”, “I am not sure yet”, “we’re working on it”, “not much”, “we’ll see”, “why would you like to know?” and the one that makes their eyes light up, “you’ll be the first to know” 😉 I don’t lie though, I just don’t tell them every juicy detail.
8- The Pessimist: Those are people who always think “it won’t work” and “it can’t happen”. Such people have a super power where they are able to bring you down and make you hit rock bottom in no time! Don’t let them get to you. Limit the amount of time you spend with them. Try to tune out whatever they are saying. Don’t focus with them 100% whenever they talk. And don’t give them any ideas. If you decide to reason with them, you have to bear the consequences. The more you distance yourself from such people, the better.
9- The Non-Player: Those are people who always want to shine on their own, they cannot function as part of a unit. When assigned tasks with others, they will do their best to appear “better and brighter” than their counterparts. Some of them would go as far as jeopardize the task at hand just to be able to “fix” it and appear to be the hero! When dealing with such people, do not rely on them too much because if they realize that there is absolutely no way for them to shine they tend to disappear on you. Also, make sure that credit is given where credit is due. Don’t let them take credit for other people’s efforts and ideas. If they disappear on your, sabotage the task at hand or do anything of the sort … call them out on it, don’t let them get away with it but be respectful and only state the facts. Also, if they disappear and only reappear towards the end of a project or task, make sure to inform whoever needs to know or at least do not fill them in on every little detail so that it can easily be seen by others that their level of involvement wasn’t as high as they may attempt to project.
10- The Egotistical Maniac: OK, maybe that’s a tad harsh but come on! Those are people who believe not in and care not for anyone but themselves, genuinely. They truly believe that they are unmatched. Unlike the know-it-all, those people are very hard to break or to let them see faults in themselves. It’s almost like they are divine. Their oversized ego leads to unreasonable pride and they end up being so obnoxious that no one can stand being within a mile of them. This type is so hardcore to the extent that I gave up completely on them. Whenever I meet such a person, I know that our relationship has ended before it even begins. I am a humble person who understands that I am only human and all humans make mistakes, one after the other. I also believe that there is one God and one God only so egotistical people and I don’t tend to mix well.
Needless to say, it would be nice if you are able to help another living soul. The best way to help people is by being subtle. Don’t go up to them and tell them that they have a horrible personality and you have a few suggestions to fix that! Be tactful, smart and subtle. Never, ever hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose, even if they deserve it. Always try to point out the good in others and show them that you believe that they are beautiful on the inside. Some of them may surprise you pleasantly.