Dealing with inconsiderate people

What’s the Best Way to Deal with Rude and Selfish People?

When someone is talking so loudly on their cell phone that everyone within earshot is forced to listen to their conversation, is that rude? Entitled? Self-centered?

How about the person who pulls out their phone or IPad in the middle of a dinner conversation?

What about the guy – or gal – who doesn’t think they should have to wait in line with all the rest of us poor slobs and just moves to the front?

And what about the neighbors who decide to have a party – on a weeknight – and blast their music through the neighborhood, keeping everyone else awake all night?

What is the cause of selfishness, rudeness and entitlement?

What draws us to someone with these qualities?

In the politics of the day in the United States, is there a difference between rudeness and straight talk?

And finally, what can you do when someone behaves rudely towards you?

First, let’s define the terms:

The two defining characteristics of selfishness are:

Being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself;

Having no regard for the needs or feelings of others.

Rudeness is defined as:

Showing a lack of concern about and respect for the rights of others and the feelings of other people

And entitlement is:

A sense of deserving something, whether or not it rightly belongs to you.

They look a lot alike. But rudeness is also defined as “coarse,” “unrefined,” or “impolite.” Maybe this is what is so confusing to a lot of people. Donald Trump’s lack of concern with social niceties appears refreshing to some people. But to others, it looks like antagonism, hostility, crassness and a total lack of concern for anyone else.

Entitlement, or sense that we have the right to have something, can be a healthy expectation. It is, for example, a normal part of a child’s psychological development to think that he or she is the center of the world. Sometimes called healthy narcissism or egocentrism, it is part of how a child views the world in the early stages of cognitive and emotional development.

A certain amount of entitlement is also valuable in adults. The belief that we have the right to take care of ourselves and our family, the right to be respected by others, and the right not to be hurt by them is important to psychological well-being. But the feeling that we are entitled to go to the head of the line or to be given special treatment at all times is not only not healthy, but it is not a particularly productive way to be in the world.

So what’s the appeal of someone who clearly believes that he is entitled and special, no matter the cost to anyone else?

Essentially, he is showing in his behavior and his words that it’s fine to go back to that childhood sense of selfishness and self-centeredness. In children it’s a healthy early developmental stage.

But as we get older, we learn that we’re not the center of the universe. We learn to control our demands. We understand that not all of our needs are going to be met, and we learn how to deal with that.

Entitlement and rudeness in adults often indicates that they have failed to learn these important life lessons. It frequently impacts their ability for genuine intimacy, for mature relationships, since it’s hard to be genuinely intimate with someone when there’s not mutuality, a willingness to engage in real give and take.

What attracts us to these people? The rules that we all follow, to keep life somewhat civilized, can also be restricting. Rude and entitled people seem to have decided that they don’t need to follow these rules. Often, they appear far happier and more satisfied with their lives than we feel. They don’t seem to be constricted by the morals and values that keep us in line. We want to join them or at least follow them into this freer space.

What irritates us about them? The very same thing that attracts us also irritates us. Someone who doesn’t think the standards of behavior that apply to others also apply to them takes up more space, steps on other people’s toes, and doesn’t worry about hurting, embarrassing or inconveniencing anyone else. When we’re on their train and they have our backs, we benefit from getting our way more often. But when we’re on the other end, when we get our own toes stepped, it’s not so pleasant.

So what can you do when someone is talking too loudly on their cell phone, chewing gum in your ear, stepping in front of you in line, or otherwise rudely invading or ignoring your personal space?

1. Ignore them. Interestingly, while this is one of the most successful techniques for managing other people’s rudeness, it is also one of the least satisfying. Rude people often get a kick out of the fact that they are bothering others. They like the attention and fuss that their behavior stirs up. So ignoring them is far more likely to extinguish or stop the undesirable activity behavior than engaging in a battle with them., no matter how appealing it might seem to put them in their place.

2. That said, sometimes someone is doing something rude without realizing it. A quiet word requesting that they stop might help. However, it is important to remember that sometimes people are embarrassed to be called out for doing something that they know they shouldn’t be doing. Even if they’re not doing it for the attention, they might react with anger, especially if they feel criticized. For this reason, it’s often helpful to begin any request to cease and desist with a calm and friendly comment that you are sure they don’t realize that their voice is carrying or their behavior is affecting others.

3. Choose your battles. If you really want to fight with someone over their behavior, be prepared for a loud, unpleasant argument. You may end up much more embarrassed than they will be. (See #1).

4. Get backup. If you have spoken to your noisy neighbors and politely requested that they suspend their parties after 11pm on weeknights, without success, you might try to find out if there is a neighborhood or community relations department at your local police station. Often having a professional, and particularly a representative of a government organization, to back you up, can be very helpful. But remember, they are not going to support you if you come across being the rude and entitled one!

Similarly, if a group of neighbors organize together to speak to one difficult neighbor, that can help .

5. And finally, recognize what you actually can and cannot do. We can’t stop all of the rude people in the world. But we can try to maintain our own sense of what is right and wrong, despite their apparent success at ignoring the rules.

In the end, these rules and regulations are part of what keeps the world running as smoothly as it does. Yes, sometimes it is important to question the rules. It is crucial not to follow them blindly. But it’s equally important not to follow rule breakers blindly. Because they seldom have a sense of loyalty to anyone else; and their lack of empathy can eventually come back and bite you in the butt.

Please let me know what you think, and tell me about your own experiences with rude people!

Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/fdbarthlcsw

[email protected]@2016

Selfish people can be so childish, but rather than passing judgment on them, we suggest using one or more of these 9 comebacks when you have to talk to a selfish person.

You would avoid a selfish person if you could, so most likely if you are reading this article, it means that you regularly have to deal with a selfish person who you cannot avoid. These can be your coworkers, family members or people in the community that you have to see often.

If only all humans could be open-minded, kind, and generous with our love we might have no more war, crime, or people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. But until that unlikely day comes, let’s look at some comebacks for when you have to encounter a selfish person.

9 Comebacks for Dealing With Selfish People

You may recognize this article topic as a similar one that we have covered before. In fact, if you search our website for the word ‘comeback’ you will find multiple articles that we have done for handling toxic people, rude people, manipulators, and fake people.

What all of these have in common is helping you with the difficult language that can be involved when you confront someone’s behavior that you dislike. A comeback is your way of speaking up for yourself, setting boundaries for behavior that you will tolerate, and not allowing disrespect toward yourself.

Using your language this way is a powerful tool to protect yourself and show yourself love. Read our article 7 Warning Signs You’re In A Relationship With a Sociopath if you are concerned that the selfish person is your romantic partner. Selfish people can be manipulative, so protect yourself.

Related article: 9 Comebacks For Dealing With a Manipulator

1. Silence is golden

Someone has just said something terribly selfish. Let their words hang in the air as you gaze at them in silence for a few, long, seconds. Pausing like this gives the selfish person a chance to hear their words again and process how you might have taken their meaning in a negative way.

Don’t leave them hanging too long, but make sure you let the silence speak your disappointment in their behavior. Your facial expression will probably already show your reaction to the selfish person’s words. Let that say all you need to say.

2. ‘That is not what is best for me.’

This statement may sound selfish, but it reflects your assessment of what the selfish person has asked for, and it sets a boundary that you do not want them to cross.

3. ‘It sounds like you want ___. Is that right?’

Let’s get really clear about what the selfish person is doing to you. When a selfish person talks, it is all about them.

4. ‘I would like a turn to speak when you are done.’

A selfish person can monopolize the conversation and unless you make your expectations clear, you might not be able to speak your mind.

5. ‘Let’s see if we can find a compromise.’

A selfish person wants things their way, and they aren’t really thinking about your wishes. You may need to give a little ground, but you certainly shouldn’t need to give up everything you want so that the selfish person can have things their way all the time.

6. ‘I want ___’

The selfish person got to tell you what they wanted, now be sure to tell them what you want. Be clear, be calm, be logical. Channel your inner Mr. Spock for this conversation.

7. ‘Can you see that what you want is not in my best interests?’

This approach is an attempt to get the selfish person to see your point of view. It might not work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them to TRY to see things from your perspective.

8. ‘That doesn’t work for me. How about ___ instead?’

You’ve made it clear that you do not accept what the selfish person wants and you have stated your preference. What happens next is up to the selfish person’s ability to change their mindset.

Related article: 7 Ways To Respond To Verbally Aggressive People

9. ‘Let’s talk about what’s best for both of us.’

Again, trying to gain the cooperation of the selfish person will benefit both of you. Researchers studying selfishness found that when there was a choice between a purely selfish result and a result that would benefit the group, a brief discussion before making the choice resulted in people choosing the option that benefitted the group 100% of the time.

(BONUS) 10. ‘I value your suggestion.’

In a study of motivation and self-control, researchers say ‘the clash between selfish motives and behaviors that promote social acceptance, set the stage for the necessity of self-regulation.’ Exercising self-control when we do not get what we want by regulating our speech and behavior is difficult for a selfish person because if their idea is not automatically accepted, their self-esteem suffers.

This may be the most difficult for you to say, but politeness is always an excellent comeback for dealing with a selfish person. Helping to boost the self-esteem of the other person may help you to receive cooperation from them.

Yes indeed, why? How often do you ask yourself that question when you meet with an ugly response from another individual in a particular situation, especially one where such a reaction is totally inappropriate and unjustified?

Let’s face it: the human condition has never been a utopia where everyone is unfailingly kind, thoughtful, and respectful.

It’s Nothing New

There have always been and there will always be mean, rude, and disrespectful people.

Even the Greek philosophers complained of the problem two thousand or so years ago – Plato famously ranted about the ill-mannered and disrespectful behavior of youths.

Generally, it’s up to us (hopefully) more measured and reasonable individuals to tolerate what we view as unacceptable behavior or to respond, for better or worse, in whatever way seems right in the circumstances.

When I’m feeling generous, I try to imagine the person who has just shouted rudely and unnecessarily at me, or has irritated me by cutting into a long line of patiently waiting people, as a toddler or a child.

I wonder what stimuli they must have encountered to turn them into aggressive and unpleasant adults who seem to think that good manners died out with the dodo.

(When I’m feeling more feisty, I’ll admit my reaction is somewhat different and less tolerant… well, nobody’s perfect!)

Rudeness Is On The Rise

Some 79% of Americans say that a lack of respect is a serious problem while 60% think that rude behavior is on the rise.

This seems like an epidemic, with one act of rudeness inspiring another and ultimately creating a spiral of rudeness.

Imagine this scenario: Someone is annoyed by a rude driver who cuts them up on their way to work. That person walks into the office to be greeted cheerily by a colleague, but can only complain about the rude driver.

In turn, the co-worker takes this as a personal slight and becomes irritated, ultimately taking it out on the next person arriving at work. That third person responds to the hurt by being grumpy and rude.

And so the cycle of rudeness marches ever onward, thanks to the action of that inconsiderate driver.

7 Root Causes Of Rudeness

Although the frustrations and stresses of modern day life are clearly a factor, there are many influences and conditions that cause people to be rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate.

Let’s take a more analytical approach and consider if there could be more than just our frenetic 21st century lifestyle behind the rise in rudeness.

What are some other possible causes?

1. Low Self-esteem

A careful observation of many rude individuals will reveal that they are deeply insecure, with low self-confidence and a lack of understanding about human behavior.

As the Brazilian novelist Paul Coelho sagely observed: “How people treat others is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.”

If a person regards herself/himself in a constantly negative and critical light, that attitude is bound to affect the way they regard others.

People with low self-esteem often mask their own insecurities by flexing their verbal muscles, being rude and boorish, in an attempt to make themselves feel strong.

2. Personal Problems

None of us are immune to feeling stress related to our close relationships, our work, or to any number of other factors.

No matter how well we think we’re handling personal crap, there are times when our frustrations and anger make us lash out verbally in situations we’d normally sail through with a smile.

In this case, it’s worth remembering that WE are the ones who are being rude or mean.

When we’re under such strain, it’s easy to act before thinking and do or say things which are at best impolite and at worst actively rude.

That’s a good reason to cut others some slack when you feel offended by their rude behavior. You just never know what current events are playing out in others’ lives at any time.

3. Learned Behavior

No two value systems in families and upbringings are the same. If you were brought up in a home environment where harsh words were the norm and it wasn’t unusual for objects to be thrown around in anger, clearly you’d see that as acceptable behavior.

And, of course, it can and does get way worse than that. Living on the edge has become internalized for these people and, as a result, they respond accordingly when they are enraged by others.

These people just do not know any better, not having been exposed to any other way of handling stress.

4. Personality Disorders

Such negative and anger-ridden childhood experiences as those described above can lead to the development of actual personality disorders and ultimately to behavior which is seen as mean, rude, or disrespectful.

Hardly surprising when socially acceptable boundaries for human interaction haven’t been hard-wired during impressionable years.

Those with conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder often appear rude or inconsiderate due to a lack of empathy and a tendency to disregard others’ feelings.

5. Cultural Differences

In our multi-cultural, ever-shrinking world, where we constantly rub shoulders with people from other countries governed by a totally different set of values and etiquette, this is more important than we might think.

What’s thought to be rude and unacceptable behavior in one culture might be encouraged in another.

German people, for example, have no qualms about speaking their mind, whereas the British will beat around the bush endlessly rather than say what they think.

To the British, then, a straight-talking German is rude and insulting, whereas the German will be flummoxed by the British approach.

You may also like (article continues below):

  • How To Stand Up For Yourself And Not Be A Doormat
  • 10 Telltale Signs Of A Bitter Person (And How To Handle One)
  • Why Some People Never Apologize Or Admit They Are Wrong
  • Sense Of Entitlement: 5 Clear Signs Someone Has One
  • The Psychology Of Projection: 8 Feelings We Transfer Onto Others

6. ‘Brain Strain’ Caused By Technology Overload

Undoubtedly, the rapid rise of digital data and technology has led to an exponential increase in the pace of life.

Juggling mobile phones, the insistent and oh-so-hard-to-ignore demands of social media, and the online information explosion leaves people bombarded with constant demands on their attention that didn’t exist as little as 15 years ago.

This relentless activity, with its urgent requirement for immediate action, can create ‘brain strain’ (not an actual clinical diagnosis!), leading to anxiety and stress, and, in turn, to aggravation and aggressive behavior.

People are overloaded and overwhelmed and politeness has been sacrificed on the altar of technology.

7. Emotional Immaturity And Low Emotional Intelligence

Some people, for whatever reason, may not yet have matured in the emotional sense. Perhaps they never will.

They are emotionally unintelligent. When they act in a way that hurts others, they do so, in part, because they lack the awareness to consider the impact of their actions.

Since they cannot comprehend their behavior as hurtful, they see no reason not to engage in it. They have no mental checks in place to stop them from acting in such ways.

Tips For Coping With Rude Behavior

If and when you are faced with someone acting in a mean or disrespectful way, what should you do?

1. Try To Develop A Rudeness Filter

Remind yourself that there may be so much more than just plain rudeness going on and filter out your instinctive response.

Whether the reason is emotional, social, psychological, or cultural, there will be some trigger or othe for the behavior you find hurtful or unacceptable.

Whatever the issues behind the behavior – any one of the above or a whole host of others – you have no control over the circumstances underlying the action. But you can control how you respond.

2. Don’t Take Things Personally

It’s so easy to get upset by rude comments, especially if they’re personal.

You’ll render their hurtful words powerless, though, if you choose to treat them as their problem, not yours. Remember that you have a choice in the way you react and responding like-for-like is rarely the best response.

3. Find Out The Reason

Take the time to find out what triggered the rudeness. Perhaps it’s a one-off and they’re just having ‘one of those days’ or they’re so pushed for time that manners have been squeezed out of the equation.

Quite possibly they don’t even realize that they’ve been rude. You won’t know until you ask and the answer may surprise you!

4. Walk Away

Try to curb your instinctive response and stop yourself from retaliating. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and it’s not going to help anyone if you allow yourself to respond in the same vein.

Removing yourself from the challenging situation is the most effective way to avoid being in the firing line for more rude behavior from the same person.

Even if they’re still talking to you, just walk away!

You have nothing to lose if they’re a stranger, since you’ll never have to encounter them again.

If they’re a friend or colleague, they’ll soon get the message that being rude to you is pointless and achieves nothing (and maybe that will prompt them to be nicer next time).

Either way, you retain the moral high ground.

5. Give Some Thought To Cultural Differences

Don’t automatically assume that the person who has just irritated you with their mean or insulting behavior shares your cultural norms.

If you realize that they are just doing what comes naturally to them, no matter how much it winds you up, you’ll find it easier to tolerate the behavior.

Remember that you may unknowingly be guilty of upsetting people from other cultures by acting in a way which you consider to be quite normal.

6. Fight Rudeness With Kindness

Even though it’s often counterintuitive, one of the best ways to defuse rudeness is to stay helpful and friendly. This gives the other person a chance to calm down and readjust their behavior.

7. Don’t Perpetuate The Spiral Of Rudeness

Don’t let the inconsiderate or downright rude actions or words of others spoil your day and cause you to continue the cycle as you lash out at others.

Try to take a deep breath, remember that that person’s problems are not your responsibility, and face the day with a smile. Perhaps you can, in a small way, reverse the cycle and spread some joy instead!

Overwhelmed By Circumstances

The happy truth about human beings is that the majority are decent people who are occasionally so overwhelmed by circumstances that they lash out verbally and take out their frustration on innocent parties.

It’s thankfully very rare to find a person who is rude just for the sake of it. They are out there, for sure, but they aren’t the norm and even those people are very likely to have suffered or still be suffering some trauma or other.

Dealing with rude and mean people requires bucket loads of empathy and patience. This may sound like the responsibility to change lies with you and not the other person.

Consider, though, what the alternative would be: respond rudely and give them an actual reason in the future to do the same to you. And then we’re back into that spiral of rudeness once more…

Be HumanKIND

Overall, I must confess to being from the ‘manners maketh man’ (and woman, naturally) school of thought. You might put that down to my age and upbringing and you wouldn’t be wrong!

I truly believe, however, that humankind can only continue to exist happily on our ever more crowded home planet if the majority of people treat each other with kindness, respect, and empathy.

The clue is in the name: humanKIND.

So, while there will always be mean, rude, and disrespectful people, my advice is to retain the moral high ground and not to continue the cycle of rudeness by letting their insulting behavior affect the way you interact with others.

report this ad

7 Strategies to Deal With Difficult Family Members

Source: Phovoir/

Difficult people are everywhere, like it or not. It’s pretty certain that at some point in your life, you’ll come across a challenging person and will have to find a way to deal with them. It would be easy to think, “Why bother?” if being around them causes you grief. But it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes we’re just forced into situations we have little control over.

Being related is one such circumstance. In fact, family members are often the hardest to deal with, because they’re connected to us in a more complicated, intimate way. With difficult acquaintances like friends, colleagues, lovers, or neighbors, you may have to deal with them for a time, either until a conflict between you is resolved, or you are able to remove yourself from the situation. With family, we are almost obligated to go the extra mile for the sake of the integrity of the family group. In other words, personal relationships may affect the family as a whole. If you don’t get along with a family member, it may very well put stress and strain on other familial relationships as well.

So what do you do with those people you may not like very much and may not choose to have in your life, but are forced to deal with because they’re family?

1. Don’t try to fix the difficult person.

Accept them exactly as they are. (This applies to all difficult people, not just family.) It’s tempting to try to help someone you want to care about; you probably will make some efforts to help them. Sometimes it works, but often your efforts will not be rewarded. In fact, trying to fix someone or make their life better may become a huge headache, since the more you do for them, the more they want from you. Accept that they are unable to change, at least at this point in time. Unless you see real change — proof that this person is making an effort to listen and meet you halfway — you can assume that their behavior is what it has always been. It’s important to temper your expectations about what others can and want to do.

2. Be present and direct.

Know that a person who is trying to stir up conflict can easily set you off emotionally, and even physically, possibly raising your heart rate and blood pressure. Try to avoid getting into a fight-or-flight response, which inevitably leads to becoming defensive. You do not want an argument or heated discussion. Stay true to yourself, grounded in your own integrity. Be direct and assertive when you express yourself. Stay focused on how you respond. Know when the discussion or argument has accelerated to the point of no return — meaning it’s no longer about conflict resolution, but just about winning. If it gets to this point, stop the interaction, and leave the conversation.

3. Do encourage difficult people to express themselves.

Let them fully state their point of view about the issue/conflict/problem without interruption. Why do they feel judged or criticized by others? What do they feel people misunderstand about them? What do they want or expect from others? The idea is to remain as neutral as possible. Just listening, rather than trying to engage, may be enough to allow someone to feel like they have the opportunity to say what’s on their mind. Showing respect for another’s differences may go a very long way.

4. Watch for trigger topics.

Inevitably there will be topics that represent points of disagreement and disharmony. Know what these topics are, and be extremely aware when these are brought up. Your past experiences should help you, especially when you are confronted with these delicate subjects. Be prepared to address these issues in a direct, non-confrontational way or to deflect the conflict if the atmosphere becomes too heated.

5. Know that some topics are absolutely off-limits.

Period. History and experiences should tell you that these subjects should be avoided at all costs. That’s not to say that important issues should be permanently avoided. Rather, if your experience dealing with certain issues has left you stressed out or emotionally depleted, and the discussion has not progressed sufficiently along to represent a rapprochement, then it’s best to avoid the discussion until a time when both parties are willing to move it forward in a constructive way.

6. It’s not about you — usually.

Yes, it’s hard not to take things personally, especially when you’re attacked or made to feel responsible for someone else. But if you look at the anatomy of a conflict, you can see how these often play out. Notice how people progressively move through a discussion or argument. Usually, it initially centers around a specific topic/disagreement/response that made a person upset. If allowed to continue, the argument can become heated, accelerating quickly to personal attacks (which often includes trying to make you feel responsible or guilty for not responding the way someone wants you to). If you have been through this kind of interaction before, make a concerted effort to imagine it unfolding before it actually does — and then nip it in the bud.

7. Your own well-being comes first.

While you want to be respectful and attentive to others as much as you can, you don’t want to bend over backwards or twist yourself into a knot just to make someone else happy or satisfied, or to keep the peace. Never allow any personal interaction or relationship to infringe upon or challenge your own well-being. Visualize your boundaries, that protective territory between you and someone else. No one is entitled to occupy your space unless you invite them in.

And then there’s that special situation where families gather together for a special occasion or holiday. it’s best to plan ahead so that you have a good idea about how time will be spent with relatives. Don’t leave too much unplanned time; you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re left alone with a difficult family member with whom you have an issue or conflict — someone who confronts, challenges, incites, aggravates, and basically pushes your buttons. Surround yourself with people you get along with, supportive people who care about you, people who are there to enjoy time together.


photo credit: ju-leo

“You cannot change someone’s point of view using logic if they did not arrive at that point of view using logic.” – Unknown

Everyone has a problem family member. For some it is the strange uncle you don’t leave alone with the children. For others is is a well-intentioned but desperately overbearing mother-in-law. And although the way in which they are a problem may vary, one thing we all share in common is that we struggle to deal with them in a healthy and productive way. In this post I am going to show you a few things I have learned over the years about dealing with problem family members without losing your mind.

Wear the amour of patience
If you don’t have a lot of patience the process of working with and sorting out a problem family member is going to be tough. If you don’t have patience you are going to want to pack up and run away and never see them again. And for a while that might seem like a good idea. Maybe it is. But new problem family members are always going to pop up. So you need to wear the armor of patience, eventually.

Patience is considered the king of all virtues. The reason for this is because it is the antidote and cure to anger which is considered the king of all vices. When it comes to problem family members it is so important to be patient because otherwise you end up dealing with situations by getting angry. And nothing good ever comes from anger.

Anger sows the seeds of discord in a relationship. If you respond in an angry way to a intrusive mother-in-law she will be more likely to return fire with anger. And it escalates. Soon everyone is hot under the collar and family gatherings are completely intolerable because everyone is so tense and nervous.

When you deal with family members using anger you damage your ability to meaningfully communicate. It is quite simple. When you approach someone with what you feel is a genuine issue and they respond in anger you lose trust in that person. The same goes with family. If you respond to their behavior or opinions with anger they will be less likely to meaningfully communicate with you. And then the doors of problem solving are closed for good. Make sure you always respond with patience.

Listen. Actually listen
Have you ever taken the time to actually listen to someone? Ever seen how much more they tell you and how honest they can be when they think that you are really trying to understand? This is an important point to realize if you want to deal with a problem family member.

A lot of the time when we “listen” to people we just wait for our turn to talk. Our mind is not focused on what they are saying but rather it is wandering off thinking about all the ways we can retaliate or it is internally gossiping about how stupid this person is. But it we sat there and actually listened to the person the scenario might become more workable.

The next time your problem family member is trying to express something make sure you listen. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Actually listen. Hear what they are saying and try to ascertain the meaning behind their words. If you truly understand their position you might be able to reach some agreement.

Separate the person from their behavior
When I was going through college I worked in a child care center. In this center I had to deal with the worst of spoiled children and their ignorant parents. At least once a week there would be a confrontation where a parent accused the center of doing something horrid to their brat of a child. It was during these times I learned to separate the person from the person’s behavior.

Let me explain this a little bit. There is a person and then there is the person’s behavior. If you want to get through to someone you need to separate the person from their behavior. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say your brother-in-law is being a jerk. Instead of saying, “man you are being a jerk” why not say, “your behavior is really offensive”. A subtle change but it works.

When your separate the person from their behavior it gives them a chance to detach themselves from it. If, on the other hand, you just attack the person they will get all defensive and attack you back. Remembering to do this in the heat of the moment can be hard, but it is well worth it if you can.

Keep the volume of your voice low
If you look at any good debater you will see that they stay calm and collected and they keep the volume of their voice low. This is not an accident. It is a critical element of winning an argument.

If you raise your voice the person you are yelling at will also raise their voice. Then in order to be heard you raise your voice a little more. Then they do the same. Before you know it an otherwise adult conversation has turned in to a shouting match where everyone is angry and pissed off.

If, however, you keep your the volume of your voice low it forces the other person to listen. It draws them in somewhat. But it also keeps you calm and keeping calm allows you to think straight. When you shout your adrenalin levels get all screwed up and you lose your ability to think rationally and form logical arguments. Keep your voice low at all times and project control.

Don’t think about it too much
When you have an argument with family it hurts. It always seems to cut deeper than any other argument. For this reason we tend to think about it a lot after the argument has finished. This is a bad idea.

Going over things in your head over and over never solves problems. If you have just had a serious argument with your mother you will no doubt be upset and searching for answers. But I can assure you that these answers won’t come from from thinking through the argument again and again in your head. This gets you no where.

Next time you are worried about a problem family member or have just had an argument with them just let it go. Once they have left just relax with a cup of tea and maybe some television and just let it go. Don’t play the scenario out in your head. Don’t try to think of a solution. Just let it go. Most of the time you will find that the issue resolves itself in time and this time you won’t have wasted a lot of energy worrying about it.

Remember, they are family
Finally I think it is important to remember that this problem family member is still a part of your family. It is not some stranger on the street trying to steal your wallet. It is not your self-loving boss at work who thinks ruining your day is hilarious. It is your family. Give them the time, patience and respect that they deserve.

Does anyone here have a problem family member?

Dealing with Selfish Family Members at Christmas

Have you ever sat in a group of people and listened to someone describe a family member whose own agenda takes over from the rest of the family? We have. Our loved ones drive past our home numerous times a year and have stopped in only once in eight years. (We live five minutes from the freeway.) We drive 3 ½ hours to see parents; then we drive the extra hour it takes to get to their house. After that effort, we usually only see her and the kids, he is too busy.

We used to have a great tradition where our family and their family stayed together overnight on Christmas Eve. We’d eat a great meal, open gifts, and enjoy time together all sleep over, waking on Christmas morning to a big pile of gifts, but more importantly our whole family. Our kids are older than theirs, so we’d done this tradition for many years, travelling with our kids. When their kids got past the baby stage, they no longer came to spend the night. Just like that our tradition was cast aside.

Seemingly, these types of people think that if it’s their idea it’s a good idea, but if it’s inconvenient for them, it just won’t work. I’ve had enough conversations with others to know most families claim one of these members.

How Do We Handle This?

How do you deal with selfish family members? We choose the relationship first, and we work hard to set aside our hurt, for the sake of the relationship. We tell our kids “your siblings are your lifelong friends, so treat them best.” I try to do this with these challenging family members. The thing that always surprises me is that when we are together, we all have a really great time, both couples and kids included. I don’t understand why they don’t make us more of a priority. Despite this, we continue to make them a priority.

Understanding The Five Love Languages also really helps. Author Gary Chapman says there are different languages we use to express emotional love for each other. For example, once when we were in the home of the above mentioned couple, my husband and I were in the family room; our brother-in-law disappeared. I was getting more and more ticked off because we didn’t have much time, we had driven to see them and he disappeared. When we left that afternoon, we left with an arm full of clothes, a cooler full of food, and several other gifts from them. My brother-in-law was running around the house collecting things to give us, while we were waiting for him to sit down and visit with us.

I realized in that moment that their love language is giving gifts, while ours is quality time. He was showing his love and care for us in his own way, giving, while we were missing it waiting for his time. We don’t often get time with them, but they are VERY thoughtful, generous people. Once I recognized this difference in communicating love and care, it really helped my attitude.

As Christmas approaches you and I have a choice to make. We can let the little things bug us, keep silent and let it fester, or we can communicate, re-adjust our expectations, and decide the relationship is more important. Carefully consider the relationship first and then choose what will be best in the moment. Sometimes being angry, but kind is ok. Sometimes letting it go is ok. Letting it fester however is never ok. Make a conscious choice based on the relationship at stake. Family relationships are precious and worth making an effort to invest in.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *