Do you feel like you are surrounded by crazy people? If not, the nutter could be you. We are all a little cuckoo in our own way, but some folks take their crazy to an entirely different level, making them more difficult to handle than others. Understanding the type of nut-job you are facing and learning a few coping skills will prepare you for the next raving lunatic that comes your way. Here are 15 types of crazy people and tips on how to deal with them:
Steamrollers will run right over you. They tend to be angry people who haven’t met a confrontation they didn’t like. They aggressively use intimidation, threats and sarcasm to control others. Steamrollers were the bullies in school that never got the ass-kicking they needed at the time. Since fighting as an adult is called “assault” and can land your ass in jail, using a less violent way of dealing with these jerks is probably best.
Your Goal: Stand your ground and command respect without becoming a Steamroller yourself.
How to Deal: Remain calm and don’t get emotional. Using a cool, steady voice say their name repeatedly until you have their attention. Assure them that you have heard what they have said, but stick to your position. Once you have made yourself clear, allow them have the last word. It’s not about winning. It’s about expecting respect.
We aren’t talking about the sexy True Blood vamps or sparkly teen heartthrobs. These Vampires will suck the life out of you with their constant whining, complaining and overall negative attitude.
Your Goal: Avoid bleeding out from the assault of negativity on your ears or staking yourself just to end your own misery from being around such a fatalistic person.
How to Deal: Keep interactions brief and on point. Don’t placate them or apologize for having a different point of view. Instead, focus on problem-solving and have them offer solutions to the problems they bring up. Don’t allow the negativity to get out of control. If you are the boss of a Vampire, you have to nip it quickly. Negativity in the workplace spreads like wildfire.
Lemmings are the ultimate followers. They want to be liked by everyone and say “yes” to everything without thinking things through. Prior commitments are forgotten as they focus on the latest demands. With no time for themselves due to over-commitment, they become resentful. As the saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. From your perspective they are unreliable and untrustworthy due to their inability to make a decision or follow through with commitments.
Your Goal: Get commitments from them that you can count on.
How to Deal: Have a conversation with the Lemming in an environment they will feel safe. Give them permission to be completely honest with you, and assure them that you will do the same. Allow them to talk about their resentments, anger and excuses without interruption or contradictions. Once they have unburdened themselves, create a learning opportunity by using the past as a template. Also, warn them that most people can be assholes who will continue to dump things on the Lemming as long as they know they will hear “yes”. It’s in people’s nature to use the path of least resistance. The best advice for Lemmings is to replace the word “yes” with “Let me get back to you about that”. This will give them time to think before committing.
4. The Nothing Person
The Nothing Person is famous for using the silent treatment. Instead of contributing to the conversation, they will only grunt or remain silent with no verbal or non-verbal feedback. They try to control the situation by turning away from people or pretending nothing happened.
Your Goal: Get the Nothing Person to cut the I-am-an-island crap, open up and deal with the issue at hand.
How to Deal: Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with “yes”, “no” or a grunt. Keep things light but don’t try to be humorous. Think back over events and try to figure out what could have made them shut down. Talk about what you think the problem may be, and then give them time to answer. If you still don’t get a response, talk about the future. People aren’t always aware of what impact their actions or inactions will have on the future.
5. The Professor
The Professor is also known as the “know-it-all”. They invested a lot of time and money on their education and they are damn well going to use it. Professors usually have an elitist attitude and speak very condescendingly to others. They have a low tolerance for correction or contradiction, and are quick to prove you wrong.
Your Goal: Get them to be open to new ideas and information.
How to Deal: The Professor needs to feel like he has been heard and is right. Let’s face it, he probably is correct, but there may be a key point that he is missing. You need to build rapport and his trust in you to work as a team instead of against each other. Use “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me” to give him a sense of ownership in new ideas. The Professor is an excellent addition to your pool of people to learn from. By making the Professor your mentor, you will be less threatening in his eyes, and thus, someone worth listening to.
6. The Se-Lo
Se-Lo is short for sesquipedalian loquaciousness, which means “talking a lot and using big words”. The difference between the Professor and the Se-Lo is that the Professor is a know-it-all, while the Se-Lo is a thinks-he-knows-it-all. He is usually cocky and prone to mumble-bragging and complain-bragging. He learns just enough about a subject to sound like he knows what he’s talking about, all for the sake of getting attention.
Your Goal: To not pop this obnoxious douchebag in the mouth every time you see him, but still bring him back to reality.
How to Deal: Watch for generalizations and ask the Se-Lo to be more specific. When you hear words like “everybody”, ask “Who specifically?” Resist the urge to embarrass him. Instead, give him a way out to keep him from getting defensive. If this is someone you work with, focus his talents toward an area in which he excels.
Snipers will shoot you down with hidden attacks, innuendos, digs and sarcasm. With a perfectly timed eye-roll, they can make you look foolish. They will exclude people and withhold important information, all while staying under the radar and wreaking havoc.
Your Goal: Bring the Sniper out of hiding.
How to Deal: Stop whatever you are doing when a Sniper attacks, then zero in on them. Ask questions like, “What do you mean by that?” or “What does that have to do with this?” You want to find the underlying reason for their attacks without becoming defensive. Stay calm while you are calling them on their bullshit. Throw them off their game by bringing them out of hiding. They are skilled in covert attacks, not face-to-face confrontation.
The Werewolf is also known as a Grenade or Jekyll and Hyde. Although they are perfectly normal most of the time, they will suddenly burst into a full-on monster attack. They will explode into an unfocused rage that has nothing to do with the subject at hand. In the aftermath of the attack they often act as though nothing happened.
Your Goal: Take control of the situation. While you can’t control the Werewolf once he has transformed, you can control how you respond and focus on preventing future attacks.
How to Deal: Say their name to get them to focus on reality, instead of the psycho ramblings inside their head. Speak loudly enough to be heard over their rant. Echo back to them what they have said, and then shoot for the heart (no silver bullets needed). You want them to know that you not only heard what they have said, but understand how they feel. Once they have calmed down, take a break. Don’t try to fix anything in that moment. Come back to the issue at a later time when things can be discussed in a calm and productive way. During the calm conversation explain in no uncertain terms that their behavior was unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
9. The Big Spoon
The Big Spoon’s main goal in life is to stir up shit. They aren’t part of the drama; they just keep it going and escalate it.
Your Goal: To not participate in the Spoon’s game.
How to Deal: Don’t engage when the Spoon comes around to stir up trouble in your corner of the world. Say as little as possible, because the Spoon is like a reality TV producer, they will twist your words like a pretzel. If you suspect they are stirring up trouble for you with someone else, make a point to clear the air with the other person in a private setting. Make them aware of the Spoon’s game, so things don’t get out of control.
10. The Master Manipulator
The Master Manipulator is a charming, silver-tongued snake. He can connive his way out of a sticky situation and talk you into anything. He has the skills to brain rape you without you realizing what’s happening.
Your Goal: Protect yourself from being manipulated.
How to Deal: Keep your guard up at all times around the Master Manipulator. Be aware of the fact that he is always working an angle, and he is a professional bullshit artist. Stand your ground when he tries to talk you into doing something, because it’s probably something you don’t want to do. The Master Manipulator is looking for an easy target. If you call him on his bullshit, he will move on to someone less aware.
11. The Martyr
The Martyr is closely related to the Vampire. If you aren’t careful you can drown in their ocean of sorrow. The Martyr will tell anyone who will listen about the numerous times they were so close to success until someone else screwed them over and caused them to fail. Martyrs live by two core beliefs: it’s never their fault and someone is always out to get them. The phrase “why me” is very popular amongst the Martyrs of the world. They seek attention by getting people to feel sorry for them and their tales of woe.
Your Goal: To not be manipulated by or sucked into the maelstrom of negativity surrounding the Martyr, while doing your best not to tell them to get down off the cross.
How to Deal: Don’t validate their role as a Martyr by feeling sorry for them. Instead only acknowledge or focus on things that make them feel empowered. The Martyr is playing out a self-sabotaging, manipulative role. In a tactful and caring way tell them that you recognize their pattern of perceived victimization. Use some tough love to give them the proverbial kick in the ass they need to get back on track. If they aren’t ready to change, the only thing you can do is to give them time until they are ready to come around.
Unlike the Sniper, Terrorists don’t try to hide. They have no shame in making your life a living hell to get what they want (just like kids).
Your Goal: Unarm the Terrorist so that you can live your life without fear of another attack.
How to Deal: Take a similar stance that you would with the Steamroller. Stand your ground and command respect. Remember to never negotiate with a Terrorist. In the midst of an attack, if you give an inch, they will demand five miles. Once things are under control, you can discuss any issues in a calm way to find some middle ground. To prevent another attack set strong boundaries about what is and is not acceptable behavior (just like you do with children).
Jabber-Walkies are big gossips. They walk around jabbering on and on about everything that is not their business. Unlike the Big Spoon, they rarely go directly to the parties targeted in the gossip because their job is to report, not to get involved.
Your Goal: If you can’t avoid the Jabber-Walkie, avoid engaging in the gossip.
How to Deal: First of all, take anything the Jabber-Walkie says with a grain of salt, there probably isn’t much truth left in their juicy news of the day. Make it clear that you have no interest in talking about other people behind their back. If she persists, let her know that you will let the targeted person know that she is spreading rumors about them. Once she knows that you are not going to participate, she will move on.
The Meaniac is the hate-filled child of the Steamroller and Werewolf. He will not only roll all over you, but will also act like a raging monster while doing it. The Meaniac is the type of guy who yells at waiters in restaurants.
Your Goal: Diffuse the situation as much as possible while standing your ground.
How to Deal: Meaniacs can be unpredictable. When you speak, instead of raising your voice, lower it. This doesn’t mean to back down or to not be heard, but when someone speaks in a calm voice that is just above a whisper, people will stop to listen. The more calm and in control you are, the better. Let the Meaniac know that you will discuss any issues they have when they are calm and can speak to you in a respectful way. Set your boundaries and don’t back down. If necessary, walk away and re-address the issue at a later time.
Overprotective moms are not the only people who hover. Helicopters ignore social boundaries and become overly interested in your business. Some bosses can have Helicopter tendencies and micro-manage their staff. If a non-authority figure becomes a Helicopter, you could have a Stalker on your hands.
Your Goal: Assert your independence and set appropriate boundaries.
How to Deal: Helicopters can be very oppressive people. In their minds they have your best interest at heart, but no one can function with someone hovering over them all the time. You must hold your position and let the person know that they have crossed the line. Set clear boundaries and be diligent about maintaining them. To get them to back off, echo back things that you know are important to them. This will make them feel more secure that you have heard what they have said, and that you are more likely to do things their way without their supervision.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people require more than having their basic physiological needs met. They also require safety, love, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. When our needs aren’t being met, for whatever reason, we subconsciously do what is necessary to acquire what is missing. The next time you are dealing with someone who is mad as a hatter, take a moment to realize that there is a legit reason why the difficult person you are facing is a major wacko. This will give you the perspective needed to keep your own sanity.