All too often I hear people excuse others bad behavior with the words “Oh, that’s just the way they are.” Well no more! Put downs, condescending tones, and verbal abuse are NOT ok. Feeling embarrassed or used are NOT signs of a good relationship. We don’t have to put up with it. We all deserve to be treated kindly. It is our personal responsibility to make it clear how we expect to be treated and to set boundaries to preserve our self-respect. When those boundaries are not honored, you have some choices regarding how you handle the situation. But excusing the behavior is not one of them. If you have any of the following types of people in your life, assert yourself to be treated how you deserve.
Negative Nellies or complainers– You know the ones. If they won a million dollars they would be moaning about the taxes they have to pay on it rather than jumping for joy. Or no matter how great the weather forecast, they are sure it will rain on their big day. No matter the topic, they drag you down.
Advice: Try to steer the conversation towards a more positive tone. Remind “Nellie” of the silver linings in her dreary clouds.
One-uppers and braggarts– “I’m going to Hawaii for the first time!” you say. Your friend tells you, “I go every year- sometimes twice.” Way to burst your bubble…. Or there is that mom who boasts, “My kids never ate processed baby food” to the mom who is in the middle of spooning peas from a jar. Great, like the mom wasn’t feeling guilty enough for not spending adequate time with her child, now she feels even worse.
Advice: Speak up! The only way these people will recognize what they do is if you tell them. Try I statements like, “I feel xxxx, when you xxxx, because xxxx.”
Users– They need money, a babysitter, a ride to work. They always need something from you. But they are never available to help you in return.
Advice: There are friends who ask for favors and then there are leaches. Start saying NO and see what happens.
Foul Mouths– Get me revved up about something and I can have a truck driver’s mouth but there is a time, a place, and the proper company to do it in. If you’ve got people dropping F-bombs at work or around your children, you are in your right to feel violated.
Advice: Ask them to stop. It is possible that the person doesn’t realize how bad they sound or how loud they really are.
No filter– Oh boy. Do you know one of these? The people who feel like they are in their right to say anything and everything that they think? Sometimes they are completely inappropriate and embarrassing. Possibly worse are the ones who are borderline verbal abusers. And the worst part is that I’m having a hard time coming up with examples because it’s not only what they say but the tone they use. The tone is usually that of a braggart- self-righteous, they know better than you. Sometimes these people come in the form of upper management, older siblings, or older people in general. What they may mistake for honesty can come across degrading, rude, and downright mean.
Advice: Not only do you need to speak up but just as importantly, set your boundaries. Not only are they making you feel bad, but if you let it go on, they will continue to hammer away at you.
Plan B– There will be times, likely more often than not, that my tidbits of advice do not work. And that’s why my main message is that
sometimes, you just have to walk away.
If Negative Nellie is bringing you down no matter how hard you try to turn the conversations around, then you need to find ways to distance yourself and definitely avoid topics that will lead her to that negative downward spiral. If you try to tell the braggart or the one with no filter how their comments make you feel and they cannot respect your differences, then you need to remove yourself from the relationship. Period. And with those damn foul mouths, oops, just stay away. It may not seem fair if you have to walk away from a situation, a friendship, or even a family member. You may suffer the consequences of missing out on gatherings, not getting the promotion you hoped for, etc. But your self-respect is sacred. Your core, your innermost being, needs to be nurtured and loved. And if your efforts to deflect the negative energy around you doesn’t work, you really, really, need to walk away.