I recently said no to someone who has been draining me for months. This person is someone I cannot avoid, although I would like to, because she talks, talks, talks without taking a break to breathe and gives lots of unsolicited advice. I also had let her manipulate me into doing her favors which I didn’t want to do anymore. So I told her that and also tried to make it clear that I am not interested in having any sort of social relationship with her that exceeds saying „hi“ and „bye“.
Even though I expressed this politely, it brought on a whole storm of boundary-crossing, judgmental and overbearing comments, criticizing me, the way I live, my preferences and values, my saying no to her (how dare I!), plus some more condescending remarks about her pitying me for my lonely existence as a single woman who prefers to be independent instead of being open to others (= listening to her endless monologues) and letting them into my life (= doing her favors).
I didn’t regret saying no to this person afterwards, but it reminded me of how hard and uncomfortable it is to say no to other people’s annoying or even abusive behaviors, and their expectations, yet how important. For even though I was angry for days after the incident, I don’t regret standing up for what I wanted and ending this drain on my energy.
RULES FOR DEALING WITH SHITTY PEOPLE
I realize the situation with this annoying person would not have lasted so long and gotten so intense if I had considered the following (some of which I didn’t know until now):
1. While most people will understand social cues that are used to end a conversation, some don’t, and if you try to get out of a conversation with such a person POLITELY (by waiting for them to quit talking for a second), you may wait VERY LONG and waste a lot of you energy. Some people just don’t get it, so I think it’s okay to simply say „I’m sorry but I have things to do and need to leave now. Good bye“ and WALK AWAY, even if they are still talking with no intention of stopping. You do not need their permission to leave, and they certainly never asked your permission to waste your time with their monologuing. (This might backfire if you apply it to your boss or any other person who has some control over you. Just saying.)
2. The same is okay when someone gives you unsolicited advice, insults or manipulates you and doesn’t stop when you tell them to back off. End the conversation by walking away or shutting the door in their face.
3. I realized that my politeness toward that person came from an ingrained habit of „playing nice so they will like me“. But why try to get someone to like you, if you don’t even like them, and they „like“ you the way a parasite „likes“ its host?
4. Get feedback from other people about Mr. or Mrs. Crazy. You may find they are not too fond of them, either, which will make you feel more secure in trusting your gut instinct about that person.
5. Don’t try to argue with and convince a crazy person that they are crazy. It doesn’t work; instead you will get entangled in their sick thinking and end up justifying yourself to them, or apologizing for your „bad behavior“ (= not doing what they want you to do).
There will be a part II to this post because I found that saying no and understanding these five things wasn’t enough for me to feel good again. I didn’t only want to say no to a negative situation, but also use my power to create a new, more satisfying situation. That’s where it gets a little mystical, but being a reader of this blog, this probably won’t bother you…