What if the Other Person Is Unreasonable?
More and more research points to the fact that the connections we have with the people in our lives play critical roles in our physical and mental wellbeing. Yet we don’t have to look very hard to realize that although our relationships can bring us joy, they can also bring us plenty of frustration and heartache. Last week I talked about the strategy of thinking “How interesting!” when we encounter disagreements or potential conflict, but that practice assumes we are dealing with REASONABLE people that are also interested in resolving the conflict. What about interactions with UNREASONABLE people?
If you haven’t read the book, “How to solve your People Problems,” by Dr. Alan Godwin, you really need to pick up a copy. We all have unreasonable people in our lives and yet few of us know how to best deal with them. What makes someone unreasonable? They are consistently NOT interested in solving problems – their only interest is in being right because they have an unreasonable aversion to being wrong.
“They automatically assume we’re the ones in the wrong, they fail to see their contributions to the conflict, they claim no responsibility for any part of the problem, they’re not bothered by the impact of their words and actions on us, and they change nothing because nothing about them needs changing.”
Unreasonable people will often manipulate us to play a role in their drama. They need us to patronize them, which can be extremely exhausting and frustrating. Sound familiar?
Yet the book explains how the solution to dealing with these challenging people in our lives is to stay calm and resist participating in their drama. If we recognize them for who they are, we can adjust our EXPECTATIONS, knowing we cannot reason with them. Then we can avoid getting emotionally triggered when they behave badly. We need to set BOUNDARIES in these relationships and realize that the our interactions will likely have limited depth, limited value and limited growth. Be sure to check out the book for more details and more strategies if you have any unreasonable people in your life!
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of Positive Psychology.