The play that is life is filled with all sorts of interesting characters. Act I, childhood, is when we are introduced to the bully, the brat, and the goody-goody, among many others. How we deal with these people and navigate playground politics arm us with valuable lessons for the future. Essentially, these social dynamics teach us about where we fit into the world around us.
If you are now well into Act II or even Act III of your life, you should be adept at dealing with very interesting characters. But because we sometimes slip back into childhood behaviors, we tolerate people that make us unhappy. We’ll listen to the pretty and popular girl at the office drone on about her love problems for hours simply because she’s pretty and popular. Or we’ll side with the bully (perhaps the boss) to win his or her favor. It’s not that we particularly want to; it’s just we think we don’t have a choice.
But we do have a choice. As an adult with free will, there’s no reason put up with people that don’t make you feel good about yourself if you don’t absolutely have to. This includes office mates, friends, and even family members. If you are looking for peace of mind, happiness, or even a return to sanity, start by avoiding these five personality types.
You went to Hawaii for your honeymoon but she went to Bali. You went for two weeks but she went for three. You stayed in a four-star hotel, but she stayed in a five-star resort. You get the idea.
One-Uppers delight in making other people feel “less than” by pointing out how their lives are better in every way. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about your upcoming vacation or your blender: theirs is superior.
In essence, One-Uppers are braggarts that are afraid of being perceived as small, weak, or insignificant. They engage in constant power plays to give themselves a feeling of satisfaction and superiority. But you shouldn’t let them.
The best way to combat a One-Upper is to not play the game. Trying to one-up a One-Upper is impossible, so forget it. The next time you share an accomplishment only to get one-upped, just end the conversation and walk away. After a few abrupt finishes, he or she might just get the hint.
Mr. and Ms. Jones
In a consumer-based society we’re programmed to notice when other people have more and—in turn—feel bad about it. Whether it’s the coworker with the more expensive car, the neighbor with the bigger house, or the friend with the nicer clothes, keeping up with the Joneses can be a full-time job if you choose to live that way.
Whether Mr. and Ms. Jones are waving their opulent lifestyles in your face or you just feel unworthy based on your own insecurities, it’s best to nip this kind of envy in the bud as soon as possible—and before you’re driven to the edge of sanity.
The happiest people think in terms of what they do have rather than focusing on what they don’t have. Food, clothing, and shelter will keep you alive. If you also have a nice family, a loving partner, good friends, and are in good health, you should consider yourself extremely lucky. Being grateful for what you have will boost your self-worth and prevent you from spending money in a quest to show off. You may not know this from the outside, but that coworker with the luxury car may be drowning in debt simply to impress you.
Mr. or Ms. Me Me Me
Mr. or Ms. Me Me Me is probably a character you know well because they are constantly telling you about themselves. Most of their sentences begin with “I” and it doesn’t matter what story they are telling as long as they are starring in the leading role.
This sort of person is extremely boring because all of their conversations are one-sided. After awhile you get the feeling that this person doesn’t really care about you or your life. That’s when the frustration sets in.
If you really like the person and think that they are simply oblivious, try talking to them about it. They may just be a poor conversationalist. Say something like, “You may not mean to do this, but you never ask how my day is going and that bothers me.” However, it’s also likely that the person is really self-absorbed. And when that becomes apparent it’s time to let them go.
“Did you hear about so-and-so? No? He got fired on Friday because he got into a big fight with the boss. It went down like this…”
Sound familiar? It’s The Gossip talking. The Gossip is hard to resist because he or she is usually personable and has something interesting to say. Unfortunately, engaging The Gossip is a bad idea. Why? Because gossip is hurtful to others in almost every situation.
Hey, to gossip is to be human. But if it’s in the workplace or among a tight network of friends, avoid associating with The Gossip at all costs. Eventually all of the rumors and hateful words will come back to haunt The Gossip and you don’t want to be anywhere near that. One last thing: did you ever consider that The Gossip might be talking about you?
The Drama Queen
Drama makes for good entertainment and that’s exactly what the Drama Queen is seeking out of life—to put on a good show. He or she makes a big production of trite matters to attract attention to themselves and after awhile it can be very tiring.
While the Drama Queen may provide temporary amusement, the roller coaster of emotion isn’t really worth all of the stress. When everything is “Oh my gosh!” and “You’ll never believe this!” the stuff that really matters in life gets lost. Also, similar to Mr. or Ms. Me Me Me, the Drama Queen is usually self-absorbed and really only moved by his or her own affairs.
eHarmony Advice Users: What types of personalities do you avoid?