Painfully Prickly People And How To Deal With Them
Okay, so your workplace is infested with prickly people. What’s that? Really, you’ve only got one or two? But they are driving you crazy? Hmm, I get the picture.
Some people are so excruciatingly painful to deal with we’d rather clean out the grease trap or hand clean the cat litter tray than see them.
Yet, as daunting as these people are, it might help to break down some of their classic behaviors. Because, when you see these patterns in evidence, you’ll immediately tune in to what’s happening.
Ten prickly people actions that commonly rankle:
- Denying statements that you make
- Making put down comments about your efforts in front of others
- Refusing to smile back at you or acknowledge you when you first arrive or leave
- Offering only criticism, grunts, snorts, or outright put downs
- Being negatively orientated about everything
- Trying to show you up or needling you to undermine your position
- Listening with indifference
- Giving you no respect
- Needlessly undoing tasks that you have put effort into
- Trivializing you and whatever you do.
Now of course these are merely a sample of antisocial actions. Yet the presence of several of these reveals a typical pattern, even if it takes people a while to recognize what’s going on.
How Do You Handle These People?
Firstly, if we can’t avoid or get rid of people who are antagonistic and prickly, we need to find a way to get along with them. This is never going to be jolly, but it can be bearable and, sometimes, even reasonable.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s important to accept that such people are the ones with the problem, not you. Their ability to turn the heat up is often intensified by our own self-consciousness and unease. Meaning, once they’ve pressed our “hot buttons” we do the rest. People in all sorts of social situations suffer for years at the hands of this kind of button pressing behavior. That’s why it’s vital to increase our self-awareness so we can see it for what it is.
For instance, when Ms. Smart Alec enters the room and within a minute is declaring you have brittle hair, a “nasty rash”, or a “strange smell”, it would be easy to feel terribly self-conscious and spend the day feeling bad. But what if we apply a couple of strategies to minimize this effect? So we could say to people like Ms Alec, “Oh yes, isn’t it terrible? But thanks for telling me. You won’t mind if I tell you about your flaws next time I see them, will you?” We could also laugh inside about their need to say such nonsense and chuckle over ourselves for even bothering to take it vaguely seriously.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be perfect, and importantly, neither does anyone else. Weirdly, that means the people who drive you crazy have a place too. We just need to work around their unpleasantness and not let it get the best of us.
Laughing off criticism… picturing irritating people as funny little figures squeaking and jumping up and down like angry little imps… or, whatever you can conjure up that makes you shrug off the bother are methods that give you more emotional control.
By contrast, outright nastiness in response to prickly people isn’t particularly helpful. Besides dragging you into their realm, it feeds feuds and strengthens resentments (which is truly a pitiful waste of life).
Better instead to build stronger emphasis on what you can achieve and what you need (versus what you’d like). Talk to other people who are positive about your input to balance out the criticism. The more vicious someone is, the more you need to reinforce a bigger pool of people support.
Like bullies, prickly people often fail miserably at so many essentials. The more you look at them and their behavior, the more you realize how dysfunctional their existence and how sad their thinking is.
Which raises an interesting issue. People with such antagonistic attitudes often don’t even know how poorly they are viewed. Frequently, they’re oblivious that they are a personal mess. Can you educate them? Perhaps, though it’s not highly likely unless they acknowledge they have a problem.
Instead, stand tall on what’s important and avoid anything more than stating information in a matter of fact way when it’s needed. Stick to the tasks at hand and, if people who have it in for you, keep verification to prove your position.
Admittedly, it’s never easy dealing with people who are nettling critics. They put a lot of effort into being pests. But a considerable slice of life is about learning how to get on with such types, so we may as well learn how to get good at it. As difficult as it is, there’s nothing wrong with developing a thicker skin, both to preserve your self and, to help you keep your focus on all the good things.
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