A lot of people had additional questions about my article: “How to Deal with Crappy People”. Here are my responses.
Q: Seriously? You walk around thinking stuff like that about total strangers, who have never so much as looked at you, let alone harmed you?
A: Yes. Seriously. Maybe you are judging me?
My challenge is to either own that dialogue or I risk having it owning me. The only way to make my thoughts my slaves is to notice them, watch them in action, and transform them. That’s what the post is about.
Q: “My own parents have evil tendencies, but I don’t think they truly realize it. How then, do you ignore these people, especially when they are around other people you want to see and interact with?”
A: This is the crux of the whole article. In fact, it’s usually the people closest to you that affect you the most! Its hard to ignore them.
1) Never gossip about them behind their backs. You already can’t stand being around them. Why keep them with you in your thoughts when they are no longer there. NEVER ever gossip.
2) When they are around, don’t “engage”. If someone wants to pick a fight, let them pick a fight with the air. Say, “well, I have to go now” and if you can leave, leave. Or go into another room for awhile. Or change the topic if its at a dinner table. Don’t play with the pigs.
This trains them to treat you better. If they want a response from you at all, they begin to learn what gets that response. Else they don’t get to interact with you. Period.
Very important to remember these two things:
– You can’t win the fight
– You can’t give advice (i.e. nothing you say will make their lives better or convince them you are right about something)
Turn down as many invitations as possible to get together. You need to take a break from this person. “Historical is hysterical”. Just focus on your own present, the family and friends who love you and need you, your responsibilities, and engage as little as possible with the people who abuse you or bring up the past or demand an apology, or whatever. You need a break. And they need to be trained.
Q: What if it’s a co-worker.
A: remember these things:
- Never gossip behind their back.
- No small talk! No flirting. Ever. Just don’t engage beyond what the work requires.
- Always give them credit for work they did.
- Don’t worry about always having your opinions heard and agreed with.
- If it’s ruining your work environment to the point where you can’t stand it, look for another job.
- Be fully professional. Don’t get emotional. Document every meeting, email, and interaction. Give them a copy of the documentation saying “This is what I understand…”, etc. When you are fully professional, it trains the people around you, crappy or otherwise.
- I’ll repeat: Never gossip behind their back or say anything bad about them. If you clean the shit in front of your own door then there’s a decent chance they will clean theirs. This is the most important rule when dealing with a crappy co-worker.
- By the way, things don’t get cured in 24 hours, especially in the workplace. Give it time. But follow these rules and keep it clean. NO SLIPPING! You’re a dead man if you do.
Q: What if it’s a family member and I feel guilty ignoring them or not calling them or returning their calls/invitations?
A: The key in your question is “I feel guilty”. You need to work with your guilt. At this point it has nothing to do with them, else you can use my answer above regarding parents/family members.
If you absolutely feel that it’s important to repair relations then do this: write them a letter. In the letter say:
- Thank you for your invitations (or calls)
- What you miss about them. Why you love them. Keep it VERY brief.
- Give the rules for future interactions: list what you would like to have happen so you don’t feel abused or hurt. DON’T DEMAND AN APOLOGY. Historical is hysterical.
If the rules can’t be followed, then that’s it. No interactions and nothing for you to feel guilty about.
Q: Should I look at “crappy people” with compassion?
A: Several people in the comments suggested this. If someone is crappy to you, they are not worth your compassion. We have to keep it real. If someone has just slandered you to someone else, or if an ex is trying to prevent you from seeing your kids, or if you just caught your boyfriend with another girl in bed, or if a friend borrowed money and refuses to return it, etc then it’s not reality that you’re going to be compassionate with them the next minute. Forget it!
It’s like exercise. If you lift too much weight for your body to handle then you hurt yourself. Sometimes very badly. Same thing here. If you try to find compassion for horrible people then you might severely damage your happiness prospects. Fake compassion leads to DELUSION!
Try first: non-hate. If someone does something hateful, tell them it’s hateful, but then practice non-hate. Walk away. Ignore them. Stop listening to them and move away.
Non-hate is a powerful skill. I leave compassion (in this particular case) for Buddhas. I’m not one of them.
How do you practice non-hate? With crappy people assume that:
- They have their problems also.
- Maybe they weren’t loved enough as children or whatever.
- They chose to take out some of their anger on me. They didn’t think it through.
- I clearly don’t love them but I’m going to choose not to hate them.
And then that’s it. I move on. I stop thinking of them. I don’t talk to them. I don’t talk about them. I don’t love them. I don’t hate them. They don’t exist.
I was talking to a friend of mine who had been best friends for years with someone named Bill (name made up). Bill had then stolen from him. I asked him about Bill recently and what was going on. He turned to me and, as sincerely as possible so I really felt he meant it: he said, “Bill who?” and that’s the attitude you should take.
Compassion is too hard. Don’t touch your toes on the first day you’ve ever stretched if your body is not flexible.
Q: “How do you deal with crappy people you can’t ignore because you want to enjoy the non crappy people they might be related to/married to, etc.”
A: Same as the “family” one above. You have to see them. You have to be around them. But just don’t engage. Don’t get into an argument even when they provoke. Say “hello” and “goodbye” and even a pleasant response if they ask a pleasant question. Train them on how they need to treat you. Try not to be passive aggressive either. Just non-hate.
But, the primary advice holds: ignore them, don’t engage with them, don’t respond when provoked, leave when provoked, don’t talk about them afterwards. TRAIN THEM. But also train yourself not to get in the mud with a pig, even in your mind when they are nowhere to be seen. What a waste of brain cycles then.
Q: “What if the crappy person is your boss?”
Work hard, don’t engage when they try to bait you, be incredibly professional, document all meetings and interactions and give them a copy, give them credit, no flirting, no gossiping, don’t talk about them behind their back. And read “10 Reasons You Need to Find a New Job Right Now”.
Q: When is revenge justified?
A: NEVER. It is never ever justified. I have had people do horrible things to me. Horrible. But lets say I have 40 years left to live on this life. Any time spent on revenge will reduce the number of happy days I have left. Not only is revenge never warranted but even thinking about it wastes brain cycles.
It’s like in the above example: “Bill who?” That’s why its such a great saying, “the best revenge is living well.” I have plenty of ways to revenge the stupid, crappy people I’ve had to deal with. I’d rather walk by the Hudson River, read a book, and have a waffle. (Note: if we are talking about violence, there are proper channels for dealing with it: police, support groups, documentation, etc)
Q: I think there is yet another group of people – the stupid people. They may also do you harm, but only because of sheer stupidity. What do you think?
A: Same thing. If someone abuses you, regardless of their IQ , they are still crappy people. Stupid people who are abusive equals crappy people. So do what I suggest in the original article:
- Completely ignore them.
- Don’t think about them.
- Don’t talk to them.
- Don’t write them.
- Most important: Don’t give them advice. They will NEVER listen to your advice. It’s arrogant and stupid to think they will. It will only lead to more cycles of pain for you. The goal for me is to stop all cycles that cause me any pain at all. Giving advice to crappy people will only result in more pain for you. That’s the only possible result. Much better to be happy than to flush knotted up brown advice down a toilet that caused you agony to push out. This is hard.
- Most important: Never gossip about them behind their backs. Just completely disregard. We don’t care about their happiness or how evil they are. We only care about you. Its hard to do. Never ever talk about them behind their backs. Repeat this 500 times. This is hard also. Because it’s an addiction.
It doesn’t matter their IQ. You can’t waste time being abused or dealing with people who don’t treat you right. You can’t train them to be smarter, but you can train them not to abuse you. Or there will be no interaction.
Q: This post seems to have been inspired by a negative comment you got. It sounds like you aren’t following your own rules?
A: This post was actually inspired by a 2500 year old book I was reading. But yeah, I’m in the same club everyone else is. We all have crappy people to deal with. These are the best approaches for dealing with these.
Nobody here is trying to be a Buddha. Its too hard! Buddha spent years trying to be Buddha. Gandhi spent years trying to be Gandhi. I get annoyed and pissed off every day.
I will say this: I have a lot of experience following this advice and I have a lot of experience not following it.
When I follow it, my life is a lot better. I’m happier, and ultimately the crappy people around me either disappear or they start interacting with me in a better way.
When I don’t follow it: my time spent arguing with these people gets greater. My time spent talking about them gets greater. My time spent thinking about these people increases. So even if I might have had just a five minute argument with them, suddenly it takes away maybe 50 hours of my life. That’s an ugly way to live.
So its simple: better for me to follow my own advice than to not follow it. I can’t lift 200 lbs the first day I ever go to the gym but I can work on it, be aware of the importance of practice, and work on improving every day.
Q: What if you are the crappy person?
A: This is a great question. It almost sounds like it was intended as a joke but it’s actually an important point. Many of us are the crappy people and we don’t realize it. But the article was about how to deal with what I defined as the four types of people.
If you are real enough to notice you are a crappy person then you, my friend, have taken a huge step. You’re already less of a crappy person because you’re being honest with yourself. You’ve become less delusional. Now just follow the suggestions in the original article and you quickly move from mostly being a #4 to becoming a #1.
Your energy will be redirected, your energy will be more efficient, you will become less of a crappy person. Guaranteed. Again, its a practice. Nobody gets to be Buddha in 24 hours.
This is all part of the “Emotional” leg of what I describe as “The Daily Practice” in another post. Each leg is important. 4 legs to a chair so you can sit.
Q: If a crappy person physically touches you, you can’t ignore that. You’ve got to get violent and feel good about it. Right?
A: RUN!!! If you can run, run. If you need police, get police. If you need help, get help.
VERY IMPORTANT: Feeling good about hurting someone can get you killed and is a horrible leak of your energy.
If someone is attacking you, then defend to the point where you can run away as quickly as possible. If someone attacks someone right next to you, then help that person to run away or, if they are staying and fighting, then you run away and get help.
A few years ago a friend of mine got in a fight at a bar. I wasn’t there. My friend is a good guy. But he decided he couldn’t let someone be abusive to him so he made the decision to fight back. He got hit on the head. Now my friend is paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. 25 years old. The best thing you can do is run or find help.
Q: Was this post about me?
Five people asked me this question. The answer is no. Its not about “you” or anyone I know. This was not a personal post at all. The source of the post was based on something I read that was written about 2500 years ago.
There’s one theme: you want to be a happy person. You don’t want to be a crappy person. Forget everyone else for a second. Forget the people who are abusing you or who have been abusive to you. Your goal is to use these techniques to as quickly as possible, become a consistently happy person. That’s more important than winning a fight. It’s more important than gossiping or feeling guilty. Its not about being right, its about being HAPPY.
Am I a happy person? Not always. Sometimes I’m a pretty crappy person. But I’m hoping my ratio of happy over crappy is getting better.