In my 52 years on this mortal coil, I have met my fair share of annoying, offensive people. In my former life as a shy, unconfident little mouse of a woman, these annoying, offensive people would have reduced me to tears, or seen me scuttling back to my home where I would feel safe.
Now, however, the mouse has turned. No longer do I allow myself to be eaten up by, or hang on to the anger that these challenging people (I sound like an HR person) seem to sprinkle around with gay abandon.
You know the kind of people I’m talking about: they are rude to you, completely self-obsessed, talk loudly about thoroughly obnoxious things that make you cringe to be in their company, interrupt you, and more.
I have the misfortune to have one person who has these annoying, offensive characteristics all wrapped up in a thoroughly distasteful bow of self-righteousness in my life. Actually, that should read HAD in my life. Despite the fact that the person involved is attached to a friend, her behaviour became so ludicrously repulsive that both Andrew and I had no choice other than to cut her out of our lives completely.
Even though it was the right decision, it was not an easy one to make. For the sake of friendship, we had put up with her behaviour for many, many years. Some may argue too many, I do sometimes think that we should have spoken up sooner.
Yet we dealt with the nasty situations (oh so many nasty situations) by reminding ourselves that this woman has issues. Yes, she has no morals, no dignity and no pride. But she is also filled with a desperate need to be right, to have the most, to have the best, to be the best – even at the cost of friendship (her friends stay around for a couple of months before drifting away from her toxicity).
At the end of the day, she is a very sad woman, with a very sad life and there is still part of me that feels incredibly sorry for her. And I think that’s the key to dealing with annoying, offensive people – empathy.
I could let offensive people get to me, I could let them ruin my day, my week or even my month. This is something I’m definitely still working on, I do sometimes take hurtful comments to heart, especially when they are completely uncalled for. Yet I am a work in progress and will be until the day I take my last breath.
How to deal with annoying or offensive people:
See the pain behind the spite: When someone is rude to me I try not to allow my knee-jerk feelings to take hold. How dare they? Don’t they have any respect for my feelings?!
You see, this reaction only takes into account my feelings. By trying to empathise with them and their feelings I can usually see that they are being offensive as a coping mechanism for their own fear. We cannot possibly know what this person is going through either physically or mentally.
They may have had the worst week of their lives and are lashing out because it’s the only way they can deal with their overwhelming pain. They may be lashing out at you or withdrawing from you, because of that pain
Try giving the benefit of the doubt and feel compassion rather than anger. Yes, it’s extraordinarily hard to do, but I have seen the most obnoxious person crumble to tears simply because I’ve met their anger with compassion. And no, I’m not Mother Theresa – there are still times when I want to lash out verbally or even physically!
Remember that it’s not you, it’s them: A person’s actions have nothing to do with you. If you find yourself taking their words personally, or as a judgment to your own worth – let it go!
If you find yourself doubting your own worth because of another’s actions, try to recognise that your value as a human being is not determined by the judgment of others. The only person who can determine your own value is YOU!
Think big: Imagine you are a small child who wants what they want NOW! Whatever you desire, be it a bar of chocolate, a toy or your own way it becomes your entire focus. There is no perspective so you throw a tantrum.
As adults, the lack of a chocolate bar is a very small problem (unless you’re hormonal then it becomes an all-consuming desire 😉), we can see that there are so many more things that could make a small child happy. It’s easy for us, we are approaching the lack of chocolate from a larger perspective.
When a person offends us our perspective shrinks. This offence becomes the biggest thing in the world, which makes us incredibly angry. Which in turn encourages us to throw the equivalent of a tantrum.
By expanding our perspective (thinking big) we can see the bigger picture. Is it really worth getting angry and spoiling our own day because of one person’s behaviour? Think big, broaden your perspective and get on with your day!
Float through the day: When other people start to drive me crazy (and let’s face it, I’m nuts enough already 😜), I try to remember to float along the river of life.
I see other people as little boats, all flowing with or against the current. Some boats have big engines and they manoeuvre their way through life with ease. Some have no engines at all and their lives always seem to take them the hardest possible route, every day they fight against the current. The engine, or lack of, and the route these little boats take will affect the way they treat themselves and others.
It’s far easier to treat other people with kindness and respect if you have sailed your way through the waters of life with ease. If every day is a struggle, then seeing the goodness in yourself AND others becomes a constant battle.
Try not to worry about the other boats on the river. Ease their journey if you can, don’t get in their way and let them get on with their lives.
There will be times when toxic behaviour gives you no choice other than to take a completely different direction to one of the boats in your life – it’s hard, it’s sad but sometimes it’s the only way to sail forward.
Be nice to the little boats though – especially if you have an engine.
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