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People Who Push Your Buttons

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people who push your buttons

1. The Complainer

This is perhaps the most common type of all difficult personalities. For many years, I found myself attracted to these type of girl friends, maybe because I enjoy playing the therapist role at times. But as much as I enjoyed helping them sort through their issues, I always felt drained after spending time with them. Oftentimes, what was meant to be a relaxing night over a glass of wine turned into a 3-hour venting session about why her love and/or work life sucked.

Dealing with a complainer involves a two-step approach. First, you need to know what not to do:

“Don’t agree with their complaints, don’t apologize (not immediately), and don’t become overly defensive or counter-attack because this only causes them to restate their complaints more heatedly,” says Clay Tucker-Ladd, Ph.D, author of Psychological Self-Help.

The second step is giving the complainer the tools he or she needs to come up with a solution.

“As you gather facts, create a problem-solving attitude. Be serious and supportive. Acknowledge the facts. Get the complaints in writing and in precise detail. Get others, including the complainer, involved in collecting more data that might lead to a solution,” says Tucker-Ladd.

2. The Pessimist

Similar to the complainer, pessimists drag people down with their negative energy. The main difference, however, is that the pessimist has a hopeless “I give up” and “It will never work” attitude. The danger in spending time with pessimists is that they can suck you into their cynical world before you realize it.

“Don’t argue with the pessimist; don’t immediately offer solutions to the difficulties predicted by the pessimist,” says Tucker Ladd. “Instead, make optimistic statements — showing that change is possible — and encourage [them] to brainstorm leading to several possible alternatives.”

Learn More About As You Think You Become

The next step is to ask what the worst possible outcome of each situation would be. This gives the pessimist an opportunity to problem solve, which will subtly help them move away from their negative assumptions.

See the other types of difficult people and how to cope with them.