ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

Psychology Today - Difficult People

I just subscribed to Psychology Today. After my last foray I was pretty sure I wanted to, but was waiting to see if the quality remained issue after issue. We had a subscription in the late 80s but I wasn't as interested in it as much then as I am now.

I subscribed today after reading only the Editor's Note:

We all know Big-D "Difficult" when it saunters into a room. Difficult people are the bullies and whimperers who must be spoon-fed feedback that's been purged of negative content, so explosive or "sensitive" are they. Then there are those who generally get along well with everyone, save one or two people in whose presence they behave badly, or, more often, people on whom they negatively fixate; the "occasional offender." I'm thinking of the grown-up who devolves into a petulant toddler in the company of Mom, or the person who is uncharacteristically curt with certain people. If you’re consistently annoyed by (and annoying to) a select few — congratulations, you’re human. Knowing the person or situation that sets you off is half the battle and you are capable of dialing-down problematic interactions.

Family: A realist might say that seeing someone at their worst is the price of intimacy. But when little effort is made to control "the worst," the family member you theoretically cherish has been rezoned as an emotional dumping ground. Once the parameters of a relationship are set, expectations emerge and you start to feel like the person exists to meet your needs. This erodes your love and their patience. You can back off by taking responsibility for your own well-being and actually thinking about someone else's.

Friends: If you have just one or two friends who are never sufficiently attentive or somehow let you down, question why they’re coming in for this special treatment. Sure, it could be them. But it could also be that you are placing demands on them that reflect your desires for the friendship, rather than its realities. By privately and unilaterally setting the terms, you may create conditions for a relationship that almost by definition cannot be met. People unconsciously place demands on friends who enhance their own self-image or social identity; it is these friends who are likely to "disappoint" in a friendship.

Everyone else: The default style between two people who have little in common is neutrality. But if you find yourself irritated or negative in minor exchanges with someone you barely know, you may believe that person is wasting your time, and you don’t know how to extricate yourself. The result is a rude or avoidant exchange, rather than an assertive one.

How to know whether you’re the "occasional offender" or Big-D "Difficult" here's the classic folk psychology test: If you’re concerned enough to ponder this question, you probably don’t have much to worry about.

I absolutely adore how suggestions of personal responsibility can apply across the board to so many different ailments. I think I'll post on this subject next.
Tags: personal responsibility, psychology

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