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Dealing with Disagreeable People


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Disagreeable PeopleThey lurk everywhere. In the crooks and corners of everyday life, the winding corridors of power and fame and even in the cocoon of your home and hearth. I’m talking about those disagreeable people who often surface in our lives to jolt us out of our silly illusions about the Buddha nature that is alive and kicking in every human being.

And the sad part is that they remain an integral part of our lives. Only those mortals who have an extraordinary dollop of luck on their side can ever hope to never experience the burden of their company.

How many of us have not encountered the meanness in someone who will have everything her own way and who cannot brook the slightest show of opposition? I know a few such people and I must confess I’m scared to death of being in their vicinity for any length of time. I vividly recall the scathing comments of one such miserable, so called friend of mine. (Experts believe it is their own unacknowledged misery and deep self-contempt that causes people to be cruel and disagreeable).

I had been convalescing after what proved to be a really difficult surgery. I was looking terrible and feeling worse than terrible. The first thing she said to me was, “you sure look like something the cat has brought home.”  I smiled wanly and tried to defend myself by saying that I had lost a lot of blood and had a trillion amount of antibiotics pumped into me.

Trampling on every courtesy, she charged ahead with her discouraging words, determined to spare me no blemishes that evening. My fear of the violence of her temperament kept me from asking her to leave.

Fact is that no one likes the company of such overbearing and offensive people. Given the chance, they can often flood you with the most alarming advice or information. You can probably sense their glee when they make dire predictions about your state of life. 

“If you don’t watch out,” said this supposedly concerned friend to me, “your mother-in-law will have you for breakfast if she doesn’t throw you out of her house.” I eventually repaid her great concern by cutting her off from my circuit as speedily as possible.

Fortunately, over time I have learnt to recognize this ever-increasing tribe of discontented elements quite easily. Their modus operandi is pretty simple actually. They generally look past all your positive aspects and focus on that one negative fact which you’re not too proud of. They collect perceived injustices with determined focus and make you feel trapped in their web of complaints. They’re constantly harping on your lapses and flaws, stripping you of your self-esteem and good cheer. In short, they’re just too exhausting to be with.
 
Much as all of us would wish to have nothing to do with negative people, we can’t help bumping into them now and then. And what can you do if one of them happens to be your relative? So how do you deal with them?

Rule No. 1 – try not to disagree with them. Such people according to behavior experts, thrive on confrontation and this is exactly what they get from you when you say, “I don’t agree with you.” Remember, they have been fighting all their lives and you’re unlikely to win unless you’re adept at street-fighting tactics! When they launch forth their tirade of unwarranted allegations, just say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Watch how you take the wind out of their sails.

Acknowledge their right to an opinion with, “I suppose everyone has a right to their opinion.” Their state of perpetual fury can hardly be changed by your diplomacy but you could try disarming them with a feigned, self-deprecating show of humour like, “I’m sorry. God forgot to put something vital in me – my brains!”

A word of caution though – don’t let yourself be manipulated. Just minimize contact as much as possible.

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