Handle Demanding People

You'll find demanding people in all walks of life, from the boss who constantly drops large, last-minute projects on your desk to the friend who always tries to convince you to head up charity drives. Demanding people can be hard to resist. They will use every tactic in their power, from brute force to manipulative tears, to bend you to their will. Once you're onto their methods, though, you can learn to handle demanding people and keep yourself from getting drawn into their traps.

Avoid the Person

While avoidance may not be an effective long term solution, it can actually work quite well in the short term. Caller ID and the ability to block unwanted emails make avoiding people you don't want to deal with relatively easy. You can also use the time-honored trick of slipping behind a bush or into a doorway when you see the other person approaching. If you can't avoid an encounter, keep it brief. Cut them off before they even have a chance to make their request. "Oh my, look at the time. I have to run."

Set Boundaries to Avoid Project Creep

Demanding people often get you to agree to a small request. Then they ask for more and more until eventually you end up doing all the work yourself. Saying yes once makes it more difficult for you to say no later on. Put an end to this escalation by making your limits clear at the very beginning. You might say, "I can help out on Friday afternoon, but that's the only time I'll be available" or "The most I'll be able to contribute this year is fifty dollars."

Remember Who Has the Problem

The demanding person is the one with the problem, the chore that needs to be done, but he or she is skilled at making you feel as if it is your problem. The demanding person may even say something along the lines of, "I can't do it without you!" When you hear words like these, remind yourself that you are not responsible for fixing the other person's issue. Often the best response is just to listen quietly or to empathize with the person's feelings by saying something like, "I hear how frustrating this must be for you." Avoid making suggestions about how to solve the problem. As soon as you do that, you're letting the demanding person's problem become your problem.

Make an Escape

If you already know you are not going to do what the demanding person wants, don't waste time arguing about it or trying to come up with ever more elaborate excuses. Just say no politely and end the conversation. "I'm sorry I won't be able to help this year, but I'm flattered you thought of me." The other person may push you for reasons. Don't offer any, or you'll open the door to negotiations. Simply repeat, "I'm afraid I won't be able to do that for you." Dealing with demanding people can be a headache. You'll have an easier time if you learn to recognize their games and refuse to play.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "Handle Demanding People," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 25, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/handle-demanding-people/ (accessed October 15, 2019).
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