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  • Nick

I want a pony and I want one NOW!!! How to deal with entitled people.

I think we have all dealt with someone who most people would describe as ‘entitled’ – it could be a client, it could be a relative but someone whose behaviour and attitude means that you are always on the back foot, you are always dreading dealing with them and you feel bullied or stressed when you think of them. As a white middle aged white man, this might be insulting to anyone who isn’t privileged but (as with all these things, until it happens to you it isn’t really real) I am going to give it a go anyway and hopefully help a little on how to deal with them.

I think the issues comes when you have to say the ‘no’ word, when you have to not give them exactly what they want and say that little word ‘no’. It isn’t much heard these days and part of that is down to clichés like ‘the customer is always right’, and being told to respect your elders and then add our own issues such as people pleasing, lack of confidence and a fear of confrontation and that ‘no’ word all means that actually using the word is intimidating at best and completely terrifying at worst.

I have had to do it outside of the Mind Mechanics on a number of occasions as the behaviour of the 'entitled’ was always poor but then became unacceptable – that point when it tips over to the unacceptable place can be really hard to spot and if you have accepted previous behaviours then it is even harder to do something about it.

Ideally people wouldn’t behave poorly or aggressively or unreasonably but, wishing something doesn’t make it so and unicorns don’t exist and the ‘entitled’ will always be ‘entitled’ so hoping that they might change is one of the major hurdles to overcome. Maybe when you do recognise an ‘entitled’ person that you start to protect yourself and think they are ‘never going to change’. Why? Because for most of their lives they have got exactly what they want by behaving like this and then suddenly changing just isn’t going to happen – why should they, it works for them?

It probably seems a ridicules thing to say, but unfortunately it is true, they are VERY unlikely to change unless they go through some kind of epiphany or force majeure. You see the rules they play by aren’t the same as the rest of us, so trying to hope that they will meet you in the middle and be reasonable are only going to lead to disappointment.

So, let’s look at what you can do

1: Know that being told no is going to get a reaction – doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it but expect a lion to roar or a weasel to weasel.

2: Don’t accept the premise – this is a classic strategy as it mis-directs away from their behaviour and how many times have you fallen into this trap? You bring up an area of concern and the other person presents a completely different area and starts blaming you? You then go into defending yourself and the ‘entitled’ gets away scot-free. My favourite is when the person does a ‘Donald Trump’ and accuses the other person of exactly the same behaviour they themselves have been guilty of – watch him, it is impressive and every time the other person goes into defence mode instead of rejecting the premise. ‘We aren’t talking about that right now’ is a great defence and a way to bring them back.

3: Remember you are reasonable, they are not, so be prepared to say no a few more times. Their sense of entitlement and unfairness is going to be high and they will escalate with threats et al. Remember, you are the reasonable one and they are likely to act like a small child having a tantrum (seriously). Even if you give in, do you think their behaviour will get better? Do you think that the relationship will ever be good for you? Be firm and keep everything in writing – I insist on all communications at that point are via email or text as being shouted at isn’t fun and there is no need, plus you have written evidence.

4: They will generally run out of steam but if not, then you have the police to rely on if it gets out of hand and I am not kidding, we had a client who we had to phone the police as he threatened and promised to come down to the office – it is just not acceptable. You wouldn’t treat people that way, so don’t accept it from anyone else.

5: Repair and renew yourself – once you have said no then you have done an amazing thing and it is going to be scary. The ‘entitled’ expect everyone to give in and that is what they rely on, bullying and aggression to win the day so expect it and prepare for it. Afterwards, take your time and breath, get your adrenaline under control, never make quick decisions at this point and be prepared for your brain to go into a bit of worry session.

6: You haven’t done anything wrong, you have been reasonable and so try to avoid the discussion about what you could have done better or ‘if only I had said this or done that’; remember you are reasonable and they are not, you aren’t playing by the same rules so don’t try and question yourself.

If any of this trigger you or the thought of dealing with the ‘entitled’ is terrifying then maybe we should talk through the problems and build a plan and work out why it is so hard dealing with people like this. We are experts at supporting you and can help you feel better.

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