Wellness Pearls

07 October 2015

A**hole Management

Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes”
Walt Whitman

Dealing effectively with difficult people is a life skill because without it, we can be robbed of our well-being, productivity, sleep, our kindness and generosity. By far, the most challenging kind of person to deal with is the A**hole, which has been thoughtfully defined in the bestseller, A**holes: A Theory. The first task, if you think you may be dealing with one is an accurate diagnosis. Determine if the person:

• Acts from a strong send of entitlement
• Acts as if the rules don’t apply to her/him
• Has no regard for how they are perceived by others
• Creates a strong sense of moral outrage in YOU

We all have “jerk’ tendencies, behaviors which come out when stressed or feeling threatened. But a true A**hole stands alone in their consistent ability to rattle us. Once you find a true A** hole in your midst, you must save yourself and avoid the two equally destructive options. The first, resignation, is when we lose our own self-respect with a pathetic accommodation. The second, resistance, in when we fly into a rage, trying to get the person to listen to reason. Neither of these strategies come from a place of empowerment. We must give up that good fight and follow these general rules:
1. Don’t try to change the A**hole, whatever you do. Their outlook is entrenched and your effort is futile. This person does not care what you think or may not fully acknowledge you as a person.
2. Cooperate only on your terms, you can’t get this person to change or to identify others as equals, so don’t even try. When dealing with A**holes, we are often fighting for recognition and there are few good constructive responses. If you must engage, only do so superficially, do not give them the time or energy you would with a more thoughtful person. Don’t get caught unaware, it can ruin your whole day.
3. Full disengagement is often the wisest course because we can’t strive to change that which we have no control over. Divert your will and your power to your true purpose. By holding back and only engaging on your terms for your own reasons, you can maintain civility and save yourself. If this person is your boss or has authority over you in some way, your best course may be to extract yourself.

12 Responses

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Uh-oh, are you encountering ANOTHER one? You will be a pro at managing these folks. See you at the gym on Saturday? EIleen

  1. While it seems we run into difficult people more often in healthcare, in truth they are everywhere. I love the three rules, especially the last. I find it to be the most effective. We only have the power to change our own behaviors, not others. I really try (I wish I could say DO, not try) not to get rattled over something I cannot change.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Hi Barbara- I wish I had learned this as a teenager. It is hard to practice, but not getting pulled in is key for me. Hope you are well. EIleen

  2. Angie Golden

    I am just in awe at how your blogs come to my email and they are exactly what I need on that day. Thank you for this particular one! You have changed my perspective in a way that I can not thank you enough for and it will improve my outlook and how I move forward with a project.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Hi Angie- SO glad to hear this Angie. And sorry you are dealing with one! Hoping the outcome of the project is great and you are able to keep yourself focused on what YOU can control. Not easy. Love hearing from you. Eileen

  3. louise young

    Hi Eileen OMG!!!!! Once again you have totally NAILED IT!!!!!! This post is a true gift! Keep it coming! Love you Louise

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Thank you Louise- Great to hear from you. I have had a number of people contact me fearing I was describing them! Funny!!

  4. Mary Ellen Sorensen

    Right on! It is a waste of energy when there is no intention on their part to meaningful engagement. As an FNP my time is too precious to waste on a useless struggle. T hanks for always giving great guidance on self care.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Hi Mary Ellen- YEs, too bad they don’t teach this as part of high school curriculum! I learned to unfuse emotionally with the most difficult people at midlife and it feels too late! Thanks so much for the shout out. Eileen

  5. Nancy Plemmons

    Thank you for sharing this sage advice, Eileen. Effect conflict management with these strong sad personality types is an art form and a much needed skill.
    I am pleased to receive this information at the young age of ~50 yrs. It will serve me well for the “back half” of this wonderful life.

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