Difficult people are so difficult.
Demanding, whiny, needy, unreasonable, unconscious, a pain in the butt, belligerent, jerk, fearful… I can go on. Bet you can, too. Some people just sap the energy from the room. Or are so negative and critical that being around them is never joyful. Don’t you find your own mood shifting to match theirs? So what starts as a great day becomes a freak show. What a downer. Who wants to live like that?
So, you’ve got a Energy Sucking Black Hole Of A Person in your life. What do you do?
We are trained from childhood to always accept a gift even if it’s like the fancy soap that I once received as a gift — and the soap had been used. Yes, I had been re-gifted. And the original gift card from the original giver was in the bottom of the box.
We’ve been told to graciously accept even gifts such as this and write a thoughtful, tasteful thank you note. Regardless.
I have received gifts I cannot use. Don’t want. Don’t make sense. That really belonged to someone else. Sometimes these gifts reflect what other people think I should be, or should like, or should want. Which aren’t gifts at all.
And these things clutter my life.
As I cleaned out a linen closet yesterday, I uncovered many presents I had been holding on to because they were gifts, afterall. And one is supposed to be grateful. So, I had stuffed them into a closet and they slowly turned into junk. Junk which is making its way to Goodwill later today.
Feel a metaphor coming at you?
OK, so like Hiro Boga wrote, just because a person wants to give me a gift of… their negativity, their anxiety, their fear… I can simply say no thanks and let them keep it. Because if I accept their gift, I clutter up the linen closet of my life.
It really comes down to: if I spend my time and energy sharing their discontent and helping them live their life, when do I have time to live my own?
People come to me for help with the difficult people they encounter at work. And often it comes down to not setting boundaries, which is hard for so many of us. A co-worker sits down to “vent” and we feel the need to help. But we get drawn into office politics, gossip and drama — which keeps us from doing what we want to do with our lives and careers.
All theoretical I know. So I will be practical. We really need to do is reflect their “gift” right back to them. Place it squarely in their hands — because it’s their gift in the first place.
And you do that by saying, “Wow, sounds tough. What do you plan to do about it?”
That’s how you do it. Kindly, respectfully, with boundaries intact. And then you get on to living your own life.