Yes, you read correctly.
Lots and lots of people out there hard to please, deal or live with.
In your job, at school, in all areas of life where there is a community.
A quick glance at any social media reveals scores of them complaining about how they are misunderstood, how they are “true”, or “real” and people don’t “get them”. I’m not talking about introverts as I am actually an introvert, (or by some accounts an ambivert) or people with poor social skills.
I’m talking about people who have little difficulty to attract people to them, but have lots of difficulty maintaining friendships and love interests. And a big chunk of that inability may be due to them perceiving themselves as easygoing.
A variant of the Dunning–Kruger effect, people frankly incompetent in relating to others, perceive themselves as very good, just misunderstood.
There will be people who truly are unappreciative of your efforts, but if the only people who can stand being around you are the ones kindly described by others as “living punching bags“, you have a pattern, a fact. And facts, like time, are unforgiving. Which by the way is one of the defining traits of difficult people.
They are intolerant.
They are fanatical and extremely hard to argue with.
They are psychologically rigid.
They often know a lot about some narrow aspect of life, and think it endows them with special knowledge about everything.
Their relationships are tense and full of strife.
They believe that life is a zero sum game: people are either useful or not, and someone is always on control.
There is no cooperation, or genuine altruism allowed in their worldview. Quid pro quo my friend.
But I don’t want to focus on the hard people. For the hard people I recommend therapy or at least meditation.
I want to focus on YOU, that is on the receiving end.
I want to outline some strategies for survival that can be used on your personal life or on the workplace.
The mother of all strategies is to assess if this person REALLY needs to be in your life. If the answer is no, restrict or cut contact totally, specially if this person is disturbed (nice way of saying fucked up).
If this is by any reason not possible (the person is your boss, mother/father, or other person that you need to keep in your life), I have compiled some tactics for you:
- Set boundaries. Learn how to say NO, and to keep that no. Teach them, like you would with a child, that their retarded behaviour is unacceptable.
- Disengage. Don’t take their acts personally. People are people, and tend to act according to their inner scripts in all situations. Insane people? They won’t behave decently.
- Learn their tactics of emotional manipulation. Read that article and commit it to memory. There are more on the internet, look it up.
- Stalk’em. Like a hunter, keep an eye on your business and one eye on their antics. Don’t let your guard down. Stalk their movements like a silent puma.
Dealing with difficult people in a sense is very much like dealing with troublesome children. You need to be consistent, show them that it’s not all about them, and not take them too seriously.
Actually, not taking yourself too seriously is good advice that can save you a lot of grief too, but that’s a theme for a different post.