How to Protect Yourself: The secret to success is never try and control a controller. Be healthily assertive, but don’t tell them what to do. You can say, “I value your advice but really need to work through this myself.” Be confident but don’t play the victim.
The Constant Talker
These people aren’t interested in your feelings. They are only concerned with themselves. You wait for an opening to get a word in edgewise but it never comes. Or these people might physically move in so close they’re practically breathing on you. You edge backwards, but they step closer.
How to Protect Yourself: These people don’t respond to nonverbal cues. You must speak up and interrupt, as hard as that is to do. Listen for a few minutes. Then politely say, “I hate to interrupt, but please excuse me I have to talk to these other people… or get to an appointment… or go to the bathroom.” A much more constructive tactic than, “Keep quiet, you’re driving me crazy!” If this is a family member, politely say, “I’d love if you allowed me some time to talk to so I can add to the conversation.” If you say this neutrally, it can better be heard.
The Drama Queen
These people have a flair for exaggerating small incidents into off-the-chart dramas. My patient Sarah was exhausted when she hired a new employee who was always late for work. One week he had the flu and “almost died.” Next, his car was towed, again! After this employee left her office Sarah felt tired and used.
How to Protect Yourself: A drama queen doesn’t get mileage out of equanimity. Stay calm. Take a few deep breaths. This will help you not get caught up in the histrionics. Set kind but firm limits. Say, for example, “You must be here on time to keep your job. I’m sorry for all your mishaps, but work comes first.”
To improve your relationships and increase your energy level, I suggest taking an inventory of people who give you energy and those that drain you. Try to spend time with the loving, nurturing people, and learn to set limits with those who drain you. This will enhance the quality of your life.
Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)
Written by Judith Orloff
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