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9 Ways To Manage People Who Bother You

9 Ways To Manage People Who Bother You

Ever faced people who bother you? I’m sure all of us have faced such people before. It’s okay when we have to face them just once or twice, but there are times when these people emerge in facets of our life where we have to deal with them on an ongoing basis. They can be business associates, fellow colleagues, friends, or even family members and relatives. In such cases, we have to learn how to deal with them. Here are my 9 tips to handle such people:

1. You can only change yourself.

When dealing with people, always remember that it’s not about changing others, but about changing yourself. You can try to change others, but you may not succeed doing so. The best way to address the situation is to change how you perceive it and how you react to it. By changing that, everything else will subsequently change as well.

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2. Draw your boundaries.

Be clear on what you will tolerate and what you will not tolerate. Then stick with it. You have your own personal space and it’s your perogative to protect your space. By drawing the boundaries, even if just mentally, you are clearer of the kind of behaviors to expect from others. If you don’t do so, it’s easy for you to be pushed over by others, especially since such people tend not to be conscious of personal boundaries. You’ll wind up shrinking in a corner and feeling miserable, and you wouldn’t want that.

3. Be upfront about where you stand.

If the person has a history of spilling into your personal space, then let him/her know where you stand the next time you communicate. People aren’t mind readers, and sometimes they may not be aware that they are infringing on your space. Giving the person some indicators will help. If he/she tends to take up a lot of your time, then let him/her know that you have XX minutes at the onstart of the conversation. That way, you are being fair by informing him/her in advance. If you prefer to communicate via email/text/chat/other channels, then let him/her know too.

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4. Be firm when needed.

If the person does not stick within the boundaries, then enforce them. Give a gentle reminder at first. If he/she still does not get the hint, then make a call and draw the line right there. I used to be very relenting in my communications. I would attend the person for however long it took. In the end it enroached on my personal space, and I wasn’t sure if all that time and energy I spent ever did anything too. As I gradually pushed back and became firm on my boundaries, I was a lot more fulfilled. I realized if I wasn’t meeting my needs, I couldn’t be helping anyone with theirs.

5. Ignore them.

Ignoring is effective in the right moments. When you respond, you give them a reason to continue their behavior. If you just ignore, they don’t have a choice but to seek out someone else. Not only that, it also hints to them about their behavior and helps them do some self-reflection.

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6. Don’t take it personally.

Most of the times, these people behave the same way around others too. I had a friend who was very negative. She always had something to criticize whenever we were together. At first I thought she had something against me, but after I observed her interacting with our common friends, I realized she was like that with everyone else too. Realizing it wasn’t anything personal helped me deal with her objectively.

7. Observe how others handle them.

Watching others deal with the same person you find annoying can be an eye-opening perspective. Even if the person may be at his/her wits-end handling the individual, just observing from a third party’s point of view can give you insights on how to manage. The next time you are with this person, get someone else into the conversation too. Take a back seat by broaching a topic that’s relevant between the two of them, then play the silent role in the situation. Observe how the other party handles him/her. Try this exercise with different people – from savvy networkers, someone you find difficult to deal with as well, someone similar to you, etc. You will get interesting results.

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8. Show kindness.

Often times, they act the way they do because they are looking for an empathetic ear. Hear what they have to say, and be empathetic towards them. Give them some friendly act of kindness. Don’t impose on them, but just be there and empathize. It might well do the trick.

There was once when I had a long talk with a client on an issue she was facing. Later in the week, I sent her an sms telling her that ultimately it boiled down to her, and as long as she believed in herself, there was nothing insurmountable. Many weeks after that, we were catching up, and she told me how the message was really encouraging for her. She normally deleted all her smses but left that one in her phone. A little kind act from you may take little effort on your part but mean the world to others.

9. Help them.

Beneath the facade is really a cry for help. Check with them if they need any help, or if there is anything you can do to help them. Sometimes, it’s possible they require help but they don’t know how to articulate it. Help them to uncover their problem, then work with them to analyze the issue and discover the solution. It’s important to still let them take charge in the situation, because the end outcome is you want them to learn to take control of the situation, and not grow dependent on you for help.

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Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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