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T.H.U.M.P. – 5 Ways to Deal with Irresponsible People

T.H.U.M.P. – 5 Ways to Deal with Irresponsible People

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class="bigphoto">Irresponsible People

Yep, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s a co-worker, a family member, or even a close friend, we’ve all had to deal with people whose stark irresponsibility causes anger, annoyance, and even chaos everywhere they go.

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These individuals are constantly late, they don’t follow instructions, they miss appointments, they forget to call, they make drastically uninformed decisions, and they just generally create negativity and angst for the rest of us.

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Here are five great ways for dealing with these annoying people, and the very appropriate acronym to help you remember these tips is T.H.U.M.P!

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  • Tell them – Believe it or not, many people who are chronically irresponsible don’t realize the depth of the chaos that they leave in their wake. It’s not up to us to teach and train the masses about how to be responsible members of society, but that doesn’t mean we can’t point out that they have caused a problem due to their irresponsible behavior. If they get upset about it, that is probably because they know that you’re right, and no one likes to face the fact that they screwed up.
  • Have a back up plan – Despite your best efforts to tell certain people about their less than savory personality traits, some people are just going to be irresponsible no matter what you do. Your only recourse then is to have a plan in place for whenever they live up to your expectations of them. Whenever you are involved in any dealings with these people, you can think positive about the outcome – and maybe that will come to pass – but you should also plan for that person to drop the ball. By having a back up plan in place long before this person has a chance to cause an issue, you’ll save yourself and everyone involved a lot of headaches.
  • Undermine their involvement – Sometimes the best defense is a smashing offense! If your favorite irresponsible person is going to cause problems despite your best efforts, simply remove them from the equation. Make plans without telling them. Fill their normal slot in your endeavors with someone else before they get a chance to get involved. Keep a tight lid on the details about your upcoming adventures. Even if the irresponsible person finds out, that doesn’t mean that you need to suddenly gush about all of the details, thus allowing them to possibly slip in at the last minute.
  • Make them an offer – When all else fails, turn to bribery! If you can’t advise the person, prepare for their chaos, or otherwise avoid their involvement, then make them an offer that they can’t refuse. Dangle a big carrot in front of their face, and promise them a rich reward if they manage to be a part of whatever you are planning without making a mess of it. Be sure your “carrot” is something that really appeals to them, even if that appeal is simply to their vanity or to their misguided perceptions.
  • Prepare yourself mentally – The final way of dealing with irresponsible people is to simply expect them to be that way. This isn’t to say that you should run around thinking the worst of people. However, there are some people who are going to do what they are going to do, no matter how many problems it causes for other people. If they are going to do their thing regardless of your efforts to the contrary, then the best thing that you can do is to just be ready for it on a mental level. Even chaos, anarchy, and negativity aren’t as bad if we are ready for them. Often, just being ready for something will limit the negative effect that it has on us.

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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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