I’LL DO WHAT I CAN
but it’s not all up to me!
PREVIOUS: Dealing with PAs – #4
SITE: Confronting P-A behavior
— re. resistance to being confronted = #4
Set limits, set consequences – & then follow through.
CRUCIAL: Identify the P-A’s dysfunctional behavior, & then state what it will cost them to continue it – with you. It’s a powerful tool – throwing down the gauntlet. It says you’re not the pushover they’re used to dealing with. Their maneuvers are basically a power struggle – with the whole world, but especially against anyone they see as an authority figure – in relation to themselves (spouse, teacher, family member, church, governments….) . So you can’t let it pass.
One of the biggest mistakes Receivers make is to be much too lenient. Once you give in to the P-A’s pattern, you’ve lost the game they’re playing. Ignoring or going along with their tactics, or taking on their responsibilities, is enabling & encourage them to continue.
Although you don’t want to provoke an angry confrontation, you also don’t need to be the P-A’s punching bag. Make it clear that you won’t tolerate being mistreated. It’s your right to set boundaries. This is equally true about their language & their non-actions, all of which are forms of abuse & therefore damaging to your relationship, & to work outcomes. For most people it takes practice to be assertive, & sometimes even courage.
Offer one or more serious/important consequences. Said simply & calmly, it may make them think twice about their automatic reactions & perhaps encourage them to modify their behavior – shifting from obstruction to cooperation. READ 7 types of power that encourages positive change.
Make sure the punishment fits the crime. Because P-A patterns are so frustrating, consequences/punishments can quickly go overboard (like screaming “I’m never ever talking to you again!” in the heat of the moment). Taking a time-out for yourself can help to come up with the best response. AND – you may need to talk to someone you trust to give you another perspective – or just a word of encouragement to stay strong. There’s nothing weak or shameful in getting support.
EXP: If this problem has gone on for too long – decide: Do I just need a break, or is it time to end the friendship altogether? / Is this person needed in this job, or should I fire them?….. OR – If someone is habitually late to meet you at an agreed upon time – after the 3rd or 4th time Let them know that from now on that you’ll only wait 15 min. & then leave. Don’t keep waiting.
So no matter what their reaction is to being called out, as an Rs you need to stand pat about how much you’re willing to take going forward. Follow through on the limits you set – to let the P-A know you’re not willing to pay the price for their acting out.
If possible, give the P-A a chance to help solve the problem at hand, asking them for constructive, practical solutions to improve or fix the situation (at work or at home). BUT if all you get are complaints & criticisms, don’t agree or disagree. Just say that you’ll keep what they said in mind, & go back to the point
Reinforce appropriate/good behavior – with the goal of increasing its frequency. It can be: punishing bad responses or rewarding good ones – which are harder so notice. So be on the lookout for positive changes – which include expressions of true emotions & any unhealthy tactic not done.
Decide when to detach or avoid the P-A completely. If you’ve given them every chance to ‘correct’, spoken to them reasonable, given them options &/or consequences – AND nothing changes – it’s perfectly reasonable to spend a lot less time with them or end the relationship. Sometimes this can be very difficult & painful, but you have to put your own well-being first. (Self-care)
However, if it’s a casual acquaintance – it’s easier to just avoid them.
What can help you deal with a P-A you care deeply about is to focus on their best qualities. Make a list & add to it if/when you see positive changes. Sometimes reinforcing the best in others will give them a reason to improve themselves.
NOTE: This does not apply to active addicts or other narcissists. Their S-H won’t allow for compliments & their acting-out can not be reinforced or excused.