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Better Approach For Nice People Dealing With Difficult People

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on October 3, 2011

Nice people try so hard to be nice.

Here’s how to know if you’re a nice person.  PEOPLE TELL YOU!   They say, “You are so nice!”  If you’ve never heard those words, today’s post probably doesn’t apply to you.  But it does apply to…

Nice people.   They seem so eager to please, and so willing as a result to take abuse, take on other people’s stuff, take on other people’s tasks as well.  How nice of them!  NOT!  Because the (not-so) funny thing is, the not-so-nice folks figure out where the nice folks are, and then burden them endlessly.  And nice people let  it happen.

I think there is a better approach for nice people dealing with bad behavior.

Assume a positive intent behind bad behavior (human behavior is purposeful), and then approach it strategically instead of pleasingly.  Most of the not-so-nice people (and nice people when they’ve reached their limit)  go the route of labeling and then blaming ‘those’ people for what they ‘make’ the nice people deal with. Look it up for yourself, you may be amazed at how many people insist that there are actual toxic people in the world, and they’re at fault for all of our relationship problems.

Well, maybe you won’t be amazed. Maybe you believe this too. I don’t. And I’ll tell you why.

Bad behavior, as far as I can tell (and I’ve done thousands of interviews to back up this view) is the result of a person’s lack of flexibility and resourcefulness in dealing with a changing and uncontrollable world. It’s what people do when they perceive that their good intentions are being thwarted by the behavior of others, and they run out of options for dealing with it.

In this way, everyone becomes someone’s difficult person at least some of the time, by being pushy, negative, disruptive, vague, self absorbed, or completely withdrawn.

While I’m sure there are nice people in the world (I like to think I’m one, and clearly so are you), they often try being nice to people who either don’t know about or don’t care about nice behavior, and then, stymied and confused, wonder what the deal is with those ‘mean’ people.

I say nice is nice with nice people. With everyone else, something else is needed.  That’s focus, strategy, and an attitude that allows you to understand bad behavior and know where it’s coming from (hint:  It’s NOT you!)

The only exceptions I make to this view of bad behavior are people who have substance abuse problems (and thus develop a multiple personality of sorts) or are in some other way truly mentally disturbed (manic depressive, narcissistic, etc.) In such cases, most of us aren’t equipped with the time, interest or skills to interact with them, and none of the 38 different books that address the subject of difficult people really apply.  In that case, the best choice is to get as far away as fast as possible.

Your feedback is welcome.  Hope it’s nice.

Be well

Rick

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