Difficult People – Interference from Meddling Meddlers
It’s MEDDLING WEEK here at Dr. K’s Blog. Why? And why is it starting mid-week? Because for the rest of this week (and maybe the beginning of next), I’m posting about dealing with the difficult behavior of meddling, and the meddling meddlers whose meddling creates such a muddle for their seeming victims. And I’m starting today because the idea of starting a week long series mid-week is disruptive, just like meddlers are disruptive.
First, let’s define terms.
Merriam-Webster has it as: To interest oneself in what is not one’s concern. Roget’s Thesaurus has it as: The act or an instance of interfering or intruding.
It’s a common charge when one doesn’t like what someone is doing, whether that someone is an individual, a group or a nation.
Headlines about meddling are commonplace: Hugo Chavez Meddling in El Salvador Election; North Korea Accuses Obama Administration of Meddling; US Scientists Fight Political Meddling; US Official Has New Evidence of Iranian Meddling In Iraq; and so on and so forth. And in every case, the offending party can always make the case that the same is true about the accusing party. Whatever.
When individuals meddle, the motives assigned to them are pretty awful. I’ve heard it said that they do it because they have huge egos. They do it because they are control freaks. They meddle because they think people are morons. Bottom line, it’s a bad connotation and a nasty accusation, so when someone starts meddling in your affairs, it understandably tends to discourage any interest you might have in maintaining a connection with them. But what if you could stop their meddling and build a positive connection at the same time? Would you want to give it a try?
Then it helps to understand what drives this behavior. And in keeping with my idea that assigning a positive intent to bad behavior makes dealing successfully with it more likely, here are a few possibilities. Maybe they have unrealistically high expectations for you, and when you don’t meet their standard of perfection or performance, they feel compelled to jump in for your benefit. Maybe they are trying to prevent you from repeating their mistakes. And maybe, usually in fact, they just have too much time or money or energy on their hands and not enough to do with it, so they occupy their time, money and energy with you on their mind.
But no matter the reason, it doesn’t change anything to tell them they are wrong. That just puts them on the defensive. Nor does it help to bend over backwards to please them. Instead, there are a few more personally pleasing options I’d like to recommend to you. And I’ll tell you what they are next time. Until then, got any good stories about people meddling in your business? I’d love to hear them, along with any comments you might care to share.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.