Let's meet the seven characters in your life - and in mine - that we can't stand. These are the people who remind us why we need solid strategies for conflict. Some of them may drive you more crazy than others, and some of them may be staring back at you from your own mirror.
Disclaimer: We do not actually hate anyone, nor do we endorse the hatred of anyone based on name, race, religion, sex, ethnicity, creed, bad breath, annoying habits, or unsavory behaviors. These are merely caricatures meant to represent certain acts and attitudes that trigger our own unhappy reactions. It is also meant to help you recognize some of your own tendencies that might trigger someone else. None of us are perfect. So let's not pretend to be.
Conflict's Cast of Characters
1. Manipulative Molly
Manipulative Molly could be a parent, a spouse, a sibling. This is the person who wants to control you and they can find ways to control you. You may not realize it at the time, and by the time you realize it, you think 'Ugh! They got me again. Manipulative Molly' three favorite tools are fear, pity, and of course guilt. 'Oh no no, I'm okay, I'll be fine. You don't need to.' or 'Oh no no, I understand if that's a choice that you make, but me, I'm different, because I have morals. But that's okay.' Manipulative Molly makes you feel like you're nothing unless you do exactly what she wants. And because of that, we can't stand her.
2. Narcissistic Nate
Narcissistic Nate thinks very highly of himself. And he thinks especially highly of himself in the areas you don't think highly of yourself. If you struggle with your appearance, Narcissistic Nate shows you his bulging biceps all the time. You struggle with your job, and Narcissistic Nate loves to tell you about his latest promotion and how important he is. He makes sure to let you know his house is bigger than your house, his kids are better than your kids, and his wife's cookies are better than your wife's cookies. He is always one-upping you in the area you're a little bit insecure. And while we don't have the stats on this, we're willing to bet this is the guy who is most active on your facebook and instagram feeds. And because of that, we can't stand him.
3. Debbie Downer
Debbie Downer can suck the life right out of a room. She can walk into the room, and no matter what's going on in that room, she finds the negatives. 'It's a beautiful day today!', 'Yeah, but it may rain tomorrow.' 'Your team won today! 'Yeah but they'll probably lose tomorrow.' 'Your kid is so beautiful!' 'Yeah but my spouse is so ugly.' She'll suck the joy right out of you, which is why we can't stand her too.
4. Judgemental Jimmy
Judgmental Jimmy never makes any mistakes in life. Which is strange, because he is an expert at pointing out all your mistakes in life. And no matter what it is that you do, Jimmy will always tell you, 'Hey, that talk was good, but let me tell you how to do it better.' He can walk into any situation, and tell you how to do it better. He will tell you how to discipline your kids better, how to do your finances better, because Jimmy thinks his way is always better, which is why can't stand him.
5. Party-Pooper Patty
Party-pooper Patty is a lot like Debby Downer, just a bit more vocal and aggressive. She has the gift of shooting down everything you suggest. 'I'm going to try a new diet!' 'Bet you it won't work.'. 'Hey I got a new job!' 'Yeah let's see how long that lasts.' This is the person that goes around telling kids that Santa isn't real, and that's why can't stand her.
6. Rude Ricky
Rude Ricky would never call himself rude. He would just say, 'I'm just a straight shooter; a direct kind of a guy. I have 'no filter'.' No Ricardo, you're rude. You're a rude human. And really, Rude Rickies are just bullies. He abuses the idea of truth to beat you over the head with it. It's not a matter of truth, it's a matter of manners. So we can't stand him either.
7. Annoying Andy
Anything else that bugs you about a person that weren't covered in the first six is covered in Annoying Andrew. He may be the person who's always nice, and you hate him because he's always nice. He's always needy, so you hate him because he's needy. All the ills of society you can't stand, just throw it on the Annoying Andrews.
How to Handle These Characters
Because these seven characters exist in our life, we need a plan for how to deal with them. You can go through life and say, 'My plan is to avoid all of these characters.' That's a great plan except for one problem: it's not going to work.
The people who are most successful at the end of their lives - the people with maximum impact and minimum regrets - aren't the people who avoided conflict, or people who never had conflict. It's the people who knew how to confront conflict creatively, confidently, and collaboratively. Because the truth is, we're all someone else's 'difficult person'. And with a little bit of empathy, and the right set of skills, you can learn to handle this cast of characters with grace, creativity, and even a little bit of humor!