Does your partner, someone at the workplace, a family member exhibit these traits? They may fit into the classification that I call ‘The great ape’ Subscribe for more information about dealing with these oblivious, self-centered people.
- “What’s your problem? It felt good for me.”
- There are holes in their conscience. This person will be horrified when their wallet gets stolen even though you saw them take money from the communion plate last week. The great ape type knows the rules and wants other people to follow them. They will talk all about following the rules themselves and then be mad at you for noticing they don’t!
- “Do whatever you need to get what you want.”
- You’re about to go bankrupt, a fire gutted the kitchen last night, you ask your spouse to sit down and talk about the money situation and they say, “Why worry about tomorrow? Can’t we ever have any fun together?”
- This person sees themselves as the hero of the story. Everyone else is out to get the hero. If you go along with them, they are all charm. Disagree, and you too will be one of the zombies the hero has to shoot their way through!
- This person commits the same act in different ways thinking you won’t ever catch them.
- Mistakes are opportunities to blame someone else and proclaim their own victim status.
- “People lie about me all the time and they get me in trouble.”
- “I didn’t steal from anybody that couldn’t see me coming.”
- The rules are for other people and this person will take it as a personal insult if you try to apply them to everyone.
Some tell tale signs of a paranoid person. Identification will help you be more objective and not take their issues so personally.
- There is no such thing as constructive criticism. Any change you ask for will be met with rage and counter-attacks.
- Still mad at the kid in 5th grade that made that one comment about their weight, their nose, their whatever! Still mad at every person they can remember that ever said anything to them.
- Grudge holding is a badge of honor.
- Forgiveness is not this person’s strong point. It’s usually not even a weak point they’re working on.
- They’ll tell you a story about work and expect you to see the same negative attacks and threats. Only you don’t. You never see what this person is so upset about from interactions that sound so normal.
- Wants to appear cold, emotionless, analytical and very in control.
Question: I was raised by parents who didn’t treat me as an individual, but more saw their children as an inconvenience to be dealt with for 18 years. No surprise, all my romantic relationships so far have been with extremely self centered men. How do I find ‘me’ again after a lifetime of being told I wasn’t important? How do I break out of this trap?
Answer: You deserve the life you will take responsibility for. That means you can have anything you’re willing to plan for, take risks for, and know you are good enough for.
You need to have a dream. This will take some time and you probably don’t have time to sit down for 30 minutes and think about yourself. Ok, take 5. Take the minute you get in the bathroom, the hopefully longer than 5 minutes you get in the shower. It is ok for you to spend some time thinking and planning for what YOU want.
If this seems sinful, foreign, selfish or just plain wrong, what would you want for your daughter, or your best friend? If you would give them the time to dream for themselves, then you can give it to yourself. You are, after all, the best hope they’ve got of learning to do this.
Question: I like my boss, but he seems to want a more personal relationship while I want to keep it strictly to work. He isn’t so much harassing me, as he seems to over share specifics from his life that should be kept private and have nothing to do with the workplace. Sometimes I feel like he sees me more of someone that owes him, since he shared so much with me. Help! I’d like to keep my job, but I’m a little confused about this relationship. How do I deal with this person?
Answer: Some bosses are very good at oversharing. They will think you then have a deep and meaningful bond because they made you wildly uncomfortable. Some will even attempt to use their new bond with you to make you one of their minions. Did you want to be a minion?
First, resist the urge to share back. This boss may be likely to use any information against you. Perfect a blank look that comes over your face when he goes off topic, and then ask a work related question as soon as he stops talking. Ignore all the body language, facial expressions, and voice tone changes that try and guilt you into joining the share fest. Make sure your facial expressions and body language are polite and as blank as possible. You will need to practice this in a mirror or get a friend to give you feedback.
Don’t get sarcastic or start huffing/sighing/rolling your eyes. Your boss is still the guy in charge and disrespect won’t make him stop. Real behavior change is going to happen when you consistently ignore the sharing in a polite manner and then re-direct immediately. Keep your own behavior and conversation professional.
Do not be tempted to give sympathetic feedback to a boss that constantly overshares. You’ve probably done enough of this already and do not need to feel any further obligation.
Keep remembering; Blank look, no sharing, no sympathy, redirect back to work with a respectful and pleasant tone of voice.
Question: I have a coworker who constantly takes credit for everything I do. They don’t seem to have any guilt or shame, and honestly seem to think that they were the ones who did the majority of the work when in reality all they really do is waste time. How do I deal with this person in the workplace?
Answer: We refer to this type of person as a ‘cat’, who is overly self centered and only looking out for his own best interest. To deal with a cat, monitor your own progress at work. You no longer have the luxury of thinking someone else will see how well you’re doing. It’s annoying, but the reality is, you will need to keep a written log of what you’re doing, how well you did it, and where your ideas came from. The cat will figure out fast not to attempt spotlight stealing with you, because you will calmly (think firm kindergarten teacher) state what you did and how you did it while referring to your log.
You probably know this logically, but make sure you never put any emotional weight into what a cat says about you. If you’ve owned a cat, you know they will literally pee in your shoes when they’re mad at you. Cat co-workers will sometimes use gossip and veiled insults to do the same thing.
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