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IHow To Get Along With People Who Are Intrusive And Know No Boundaries

Changing Our Mindset Enables Us to Get Along with Them

In our daily life, we cannot avoid meeting people who disagree with us or have personalities that are incompatible with ours. We can laugh it off or choose to avoid them if we meet these people by chance. But if such individuals are our family, colleagues or even bosses, we cannot keep away from them. Our interaction with them can inevitably affect our emotions and our life.

Individuals with an “extremely intrusive” personality will often scold others during a fit of temper, are unreasonable and aggressive. They can take advantage of others, are opportunistic, and often “cross boundaries”. To find ways to get along with them, firstly, we need to understand our traits, learn to change our thinking and how we respond. It makes us better prepared to deal with them emotionally and behaviourally.

When you realise that your emotions and behaviour are affected by those with an “extremely intrusive” personality, we can try working on ourselves first. Analyse if it makes you very uncomfortable when you are with the person. Also, ask yourself the following questions: is this person someone important or is just someone I happen to know and is not significant to me? Do you need to spend a lot of time with him or her? How much have you been influenced by him or her?

Learn to Say No When Being Confronted With Incivility

Fiona Tseng, a counsellor from The Companions, highlights:” Individuals with an extreme intrusive personality tend to be difficult to others, even during a short interaction. The key reason they usually get their way is that we do not know how to say “No” to them. We have a client who always had to buy lunch for a particular colleague and never got reimbursed. When attending a friend’s family gathering, that client had to pay a bigger portion of the expenses. This client realised that he did not know how to reject others since young, and was bothered about it.”

A coach with counselling qualifications can train clients on techniques to manage such intrusive individuals. First, clients learn the “put off” strategy. If someone forces you to buy a meal, you can give the following response “Let me think about it! or I need to know more!” Clients will then be trained to be more assertive through applying the following steps:

  1. Ask yourself how you feel when you encounter similar events.
  2. What has the person done?
  3. What do you hope the person do?

These three steps help those learning to say “No” vocalise their objection. First, talk about your feelings, followed by neutrally describing the person’s action. Finally, highlight your expectation that the person should help out.

Changing Behaviour Lead to Different Outcomes

We can remind ourselves of the following three points when facing difficult people who are close to us, such as family, co-workers, bosses etc.:

  1. I can change the relationship between us
  2. How can I change (encourage) myself
  3. I understand and accept that I need to get along with him or her

Fiona emphasises that it is hard to change others. She suggests that we change our feelings and thinking, and learn to manage our anger at difficult people without getting into a rage. There is a case of a lady who found it difficult to tolerate her parents’ constant reprimands and could only confide about them to her close friend. Her counsellor suggested that she could try to change how she felt when her parents told her off. She would usually get agitated first, then angry and would start to argue with them. Her counsellor suggested that she could respond differently, by saying ” Mum! Here you go again! I’m going to go for a walk” or “I don’t want to hear you nag, I’m going into my room to listen to music” when her parents start to tell her off. These responses change her past behaviour that affected both parties and which was also not helpful to the situation (i.e. agitationangerargument). The change in behaviour thereafter brings about a change in how she feels.

There is another case of a mother and her son that were always arguing. Every day, the mother would tell her son off:” Can you don’t look so moody and unhappy when you are home?”. Because the mother experienced the same emotion repeatedly, her behaviour was thus repetitive, which elicited the same repetitive response from her son. Fiona suggested that the mother try to change herself first: “Mum can start including new activities to her day and be aware that she needs to stay patient. When her son realises that his mother is a little different from other days, it can break his habit, leading to a possible solution.” This coaching from a counsellor is not a treatment. It aims at making improvements to a concerning situation. It also serves as a reminder that although we cannot change everyone’s perspectives, we can always change our actions or responses first to bring about an improvement.

(Note: The case studies have been modified for privacy purposes)

Characteristics of Individuals Who Are Difficult to Get Along With

  1. Unable to understand their own feelings or that of others
  2. Extremely sensitive or insensitive
  3. Lacking flexibility
  4. Extremely impulsive or apathetic
  5. Strongly believe in their ways

The Companions