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You know they’re out there, the Difficult People, lying in wait to bombard you with their drama or negativity. Next time they pounce, be ready for a quick exit with these 8 helpful tips that aren’t rude, but will eventually do the trick. You can’t be Happy if you’re surrounded by Drama Llamas!
Years ago I had an older lady friend who used to have a hat hanging by her door. One day I stopped by unannounced and she greeted me at the door wearing her hat. I asked if she was going out and she laughed and said, “No, no, come in. I keep this hat by the door in case my neighbor tries to come over. All she does is talk negatively about her husband, so if she comes over and I’m not in the mood, I can put on my hat and tell her I was *just* on my way out the door. There is always a quick errand that needs to be run!
Too funny! Now ladies don’t wear hats when they leave the house anymore, but you’d better believe I have answered the door with keys and coat in hand on more than one occasion! “Oh SHOOT! I am just running out! I’ll call you later!” Or not.
You know the type. The person you know in passing, who seems to know everything about everyone in town, who has no qualms coming up to you at the market to say, “Hiiiiiiiii Allison! How arrrrrrrre you? I heard about the incident with your friend Sarah’s daughter…what do you think? Terrible, right? I heard it was…” This is RIGHT where you cut them off (assuming you’re not going to gossip about your friend’s kid) and say what works like a charm and stops people in their tracks every time: Thank you for your concern, but that is a personal family matter Sarah is experiencing and I’m sure you understand why I’m not going to discuss Sarah’s personal family matter outside of her presence.” You’ll be met with a stuttering “Oh, no, I know, I wasn’t…I didn’t mean…” to which you can respond, “Oh, I know! Have a good day, I’m sure we’ll bump into each other soon” as you walk away.
Remember those three words “Personal Family Matter” because they will work in many situations!
These people aren’t your friends, so you don’t have to be polite, however it is always best to be polite. In the above example, when The Prying Friend is retelling this story to another one of her victims, what could she possibly say that is bad about you? “Would you believe Allison said she wouldn’t discuss Sarah’s personal family matter with me?!” Of course not, she’d sound like the person she is.
After moving into a new neighborhood years ago a neighbor said to me, “I heard allll about you. You’re a princess who’s never worked a day in her life.” Rather than being rude back to her I replied, “Oh, no, I’ve worked! I just don’t care for it!” You can take the wind right out of people’s sails without being offensive. You just have to be ready for it!
Working with someone who gets on your last nerve is trying, for sure. Often there is not much you can do about it on a day to day basis. You can, of course, avoid lunch encounters by making yourself scarce at lunch, eating quietly by yourself while you listen to a podcast, or surrounding yourself with coworkers who can act as your buffer. But what about if this person is on your team or you get paired up on a project with him or her? That’s where it gets tricky. One thing you can do is shore up your reasons for NOT wanting to work with this person by finding someone you work well with and producing stellar work with him or her. Then, if you are placed on a team with your annoying co-worker, you can pull your boss aside and make the case for working with so-and-so instead: the two of you are in sync and you produce stellar works. Hopefully on future projects you will automatically be teamed up with the person you work so well with and this will be a non-issue.
You know the type- the person who complains and complains, but never addresses the issue. If they are coming to you over and over again it’s because they have found a willing participant: You. If you begin asking them what they will do to change their lot in life, they will either stop complaining or take their complaining somewhere else.
This can be tough. One annoying family member can make family parties and holidays rough. An entire side of your family that is difficult can make family parties and holidays unbearable. Don’t forget, holidays are about family, but they are really about your *immediate* family, not cousin Betsy and her 9 kids, their spouses and 42 kids. Your kids need memories of positive family interaction to remember as they grow up, not of Betsy and Bill yelling at their rowdy grand kids. You can plan your visit to be short and sweet, you can have a quiet family holiday at home this year, you can plan a vacation. Any of those ways don’t alienate you or the annoying relatives.
Unless you have an amazing relationship with your Ex, you probably try not to see him or her very often. If you have kids together this is a bit more challenging. There is a fairly easy solution though- enter The Buffer. Bring a buffer with you when you have to see your Ex and you don’t want any drama or awkward delays. If your current spouse, mom or friend is with you, everything will stay above board and the interaction will be short and sweet. Your Buffer doesn’t have to do anything other than be present. Having a Buffer with you can cut what cou;d be a 20 minute encounter into one that lasts just a few minutes.
You know the type.
You say, “we went to an amazing restaurant in Xtown last night,” and they say, “why’d you go there? It’s so far.”
You say, “do you want to go get mani-pedis Thursday night,” and they say, “all they’ll do is chip.”
You say, “we’re going to Florida for Spring Break,” and they say, “must be nice!”
Those people. The PooPooErs. These are probably the most difficult people to avoid because they are probably part of your group. It seems every group has one! I’ve found it’s easiest to just stop inviting them places and sharing your excitement with them because they aren’t going to be happy for you when they aren’t happy with themselves. This will naturally cut down on your interaction with them because you’ll be talking to them and interacting with them less.
These are the people the “block” feature was developed for on your phone and on Facebook, and why email exists. If you have someone in your life that is truly toxic, you have to take the bull by the horns and end the relationship. This doesn’t need to be mean, and it doesn’t need to escalate into an argument or a long, drawn out battle. You have to make the decision to remove this person from your life and not look back. You’ll know when you’ve had enough.
I had a very good friend who was a little overserved at a bar one night and proceeded to talk *very* negatively about my then 13 year old daughter, saying things about her that you really would not imagine saying about a 13 year old. Of course this got back to me. Being an adult, I gave my friend an opportunity to explain and apologize, knowing full well we would not go back to normal. It escalated into her husband and one of her friends verbally attacking me repeatedly for days until I’d finally had enough. I sent one final farewell email that outlined the history of our relationship, detailed the reasons why I was ending our relationships and not participating in the back-and-forth drama anymore and explained that I would not read or acknowledge further communications from her. I hit send, blocked her on my phone and Facebook, and haven’t looked back since. I don’t “see” her online and if I do happen to run into her in public I act like we never had a relationship. She is completely erased from me. I don’t hate her, I just don’t need to interact with her at all on any level.
If someone is truly toxic, stop the bleeding and cut them off swiftly and entirely, and be courteous when you do it because they will turn this around on you faster than you can click send!
Ready for more life tips? Check out our post on how to Simplify Your Crazy Life in 7 Simple Steps!