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10 Great Ways to Deal with Selfish People

10 Great Ways to Deal with Selfish People

Everyone is selfish to a certain extent. While normal levels of self-love, self-value and self-confidence are important for people to function well, there is a line between these characteristics and being a little too self-absorbed, arrogant or just plain narcissistic.

For example, some people are always trying to make others believe that their own world is the better one, while others will always cut you short and try to air their grievances when you wish to air yours. Yet others can talk for hours about themselves, making you feel like you are of lesser importance.

These selfish people love the idea of all for one—only when that one is them. They will dislike and devalue you if you don’t buy into their misplaced “superiority.”

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If you’ve met someone very selfish or perhaps have a friend or partner who’s selfish, here are some concrete ways you can deal with them.

1. Accept that they have no regard for others.

The first piece of advice for dealing with selfish people is to be real with yourself. Accept that the self-centered person might never consider your needs first. As much as this friend or lover means to you, know that they have no regard for others’ feelings or welfare. They can have moments of generosity and charm, but for the most part, they simply lack the skill or willingness to be thoughtful and considerate. This knowledge will give you a clear understanding of where you stand in the relationship.

2. Give yourself the attention you deserve.

Selfish people are emotional pirates. They crave for your attention, but don’t give you any. To avoid being wrung dry of emotions, give yourself the attention you’ve been giving the emotional pirate. For example, if there is any discomfort in your physical appearance, head to the barber or boutique and improve it. This is called meeting your own needs, and it’s a great way to boost your ego and pirate-proof your life. Ignoring your needs to pour attention and energy into a self-absorbed person isn’t virtuous. It only sets you up for being emotionally drained and hurt.

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3. Stay true to yourself—don’t stoop to their level.

Selfish people can push your buttons and make you feel like pulling out their hair—don’t do it. Don’t play into their game or engage in behavior that is beneath you. Just be true to yourself. It’s difficult to be kind to a self-centered person who is brutish or unkind to you, but becoming like them doesn’t help things. Alleviate any feeling of anger you may have towards them by focusing on the person you are and resolving to continue being that considerate and loving person that you know you are.

4. Remind them that the world does not revolve around them.

A self-absorbed person may be so caught up in herself that she forgets to consider your thoughts or feelings. She might just need a little reminder that the world does not revolve around her. Speak up and tell her as much without coming across as if you are attacking her. For example, instead of throwing a tantrum and screaming, “You never listen to me; you always make everything about you,” try saying,”I really need to talk to someone about something bothering me. Would you be willing to listen to me?”

5. Starve them of the attention they crave.

This is a powerful strategy to deal with extremely selfish people who refuse to regard others. The trick is to be civil but never offer the attention the self-absorbed person craves. It works by limiting your words to bland, noncommittal comments with them. For example, instead of saying, “You poor thing, he did that to you?” say, “Yeah, that’s life.” It will baffle and throw them off balance for a while. Remember, attention is your treasure. If you don’t give it to them, they will most likely scamper away.

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6. Bring up topics that interest you.

Whatever interests you—carpentry, cooking, politics, you name it—bring it up in conversations with a self-absorbed person instead of pouring all your attention onto the topics he brings up. For example, if he says, “You won’t believe what my girlfriend said to me!” reply with something like, “Hey, do you know how much Bill Cosby is worth?” The more random the topic you bring up and the more unrelated to the selfish person’s topic, the better. Keep focusing on your real interests no matter what, and watch him try to escape from you when he realizes you’re not interested in his self-centered stories.

7. Stop doing favors for them.

Selfish people always ask for favors, but they squirm out of helping you when you need their help. That’s just how they operate. While it is important to be tolerant and give a selfish friend or partner a chance to change, it is also important not to enable their selfishness—especially if it ends up hurting you. So, when a selfish person asks you for too many favors don’t give in and let her walk all over you. Assert yourself and make it clear that you don’t appreciate being made to feel as if you are not important or as if you are of a lower status. If you get into a position where you have to defend your stand, make it short and to the point since selfish people are not the best listeners and may not even listen to you anyway.

8. Limit the time you spend together.

Once you realize that someone is too selfish and self-absorbed, it is high time you stayed away from them. Limit your time together as much as possible. If you used to have coffee dates every evening, space the dates farther and farther apart, and stop calling and replying to all their messages. You may be met with a myriad of reactions from disinterest to tantrums and anger, but hold firm. Your time is better off spent alone than with overwhelmingly selfish people.

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9. Actively seek better friends.

Recall the pain, agony, hurt and exhaustion of giving intense emotional energy to selfish, inconsiderate people and decide no more. Refuse to allow yourself to get attached to such friends. Instead, seek new friends who pay as much attention to you as you do to them. You can make new friends by going out more and interacting with new people at social events, religious places of worship and volunteer centers. Once you have new, better friendsyou can entertain yourselves with tales of the selfish person who pillaged your energy and plundered your emotions for a while—or not.

10. End the relationship.

If the selfish person you are dealing with does not seem capable of changing, he may be more than just self-centered and selfish—he may be a narcissist. Narcissists are not only selfish and self-absorbed, but also lack feelings of sympathy and purposely use others. They are harder to deal with than the average selfish person. In this case, you can try asking them to get professional help, but if that doesn’t work cut all links with them and end the relationship outright. Life is too short to be bogged down by selfish people and tied down in toxic relationships that suck the energy and happiness out of you.

Featured photo credit: Ed Yourdon via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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