Over the course of your life, you will be sucked into many unnecessary arguments.
With the stress in our societies right now, I thought I’d share some hard-won wisdom.
Something I do well is deal with extremely difficult people.
Difficult people tend to divide into two camps.
- Someone who is nuts, addicted or abusive => your best outcome is a clean exit
- Somebody who is very comfortable with conflict => your best outcome is a mutually beneficial relationship
It is essential to know the difference => are you seeking a relationship or an exit?
Remember, it only takes one side to make a relationship completely impossible. You might never get the chance for a relationship. Likewise, no one can create a relationship without your agreement.
Keep your desired outcome front and center.
For the merely difficult, the best resource I’ve found is a book called B.I.F.F. => BIFF stands for Brief Informative Friendly and Firm.
BIFF is how I deal with every email in my life => when it spills into my marriage, or my family, it can get me into trouble. Still, on balance, it’s a winning strategy.
The BIFF method has saved me thousands of hours of hassle. You might not realize the psychological, and energetic, cost of the difficult people in your life.
Quick read => $10.
The book helped me see my own role in the conflicts that follow me around. The BIFF techniques work when applied with myself => Time to move along & What’s important now?
It takes discipline, and training, to avoid spinning my wheels with people, and situations, that have no good outcome (other than an exit).
With the Buddhists in my life, I joke, “that situation might need to wait for my rebirth.”
With the secular folks, “I have realized there are going to be some loose ends at the time of my death. This situation might be one of them.“
So… onto times when you desire an exit.
Once you’ve decided your best outcome is an exit you need to constantly remind yourself of your goal.
Beware of the tendency for self-sabotage via:
- Self-justification => forgiveness can come later => you don’t need victory or the last word => you need an exit
- Helping => unless you’re a board-certified medical clinician, working in a professional capacity, you will not sort this person out => you need an exit
- Obligation => this is a big one for people caught in a multi-year abusive relationship => you might feel that the person’s place in society (boss, relative, child, spouse, priest, coach, doctor) requires you to put up with their abuse => hell no => you need an exit
I struggled with the above in my 20s, so it’s probably going to take you a few years to get it right.
Some family systems train their members to put up with abuse across multiple generations => break the chain, if not for yourself then for your children.
Protect your exit – there will be many attempts to pull you back in => block, filter, never reply, don’t answer unknown calls, don’t open letters, don’t post your travel schedule, change your mobile number… whatever it takes. I’ve done it all.
The craftiest manipulators will use people close to you to advocate for them. These people will be happy to do so – in the hope that they will successfully pass the abuser off to you!
I defeat these attempts by asking an advocate, “Do you want more of XXX in your life?” and noting “I don’t have any interaction with them and that is plenty for me.” We then share a smile and move on.
Over time, there will be fewer and fewer attempts to rope you in.
It is no fun to “play” with a person who never responds and you must remember, never respond to sociopaths.
Don’t poke the bear.
I use similar rules on Social Media.
One strike you’re out => mute button on twitter, unfollow on FB => much less triggering than blocking, allow difficult people to move along to their next obsession.
How do they make you feel? Some people bring out the worst aspects of my personality => politicians, of every political stripe, do this on purpose => mute them down. Don’t water the worst seeds of your personality.
Discipline is freedom => execute my advice and pay attention => Is your life better without the drama? It is easy to develop a habit of engagement, of not leaving well enough alone.
What are you trying to achieve? Don’t rope yourself into a mess, just to give yourself something to do.
Fill your life with something more than emotional highs from justified rage and lows from sadness.