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Another of my philosophical questions...

Why do we put up with difficult people? Why do we even embrace them and find them so charismatic? Why do we go out of our way to accommodate them?
Why do we put up with behavior that would piss us off from somebody else with "well that's just the way s/he is."?

Why can't I get away with it?

GHR

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
markiv1111
May. 23rd, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
Yes? And yet?
It depends on the difficult person. Sometimes there are trade-offs: You get a lot of positive stuff too, and it evens out. Or one doesn't realize just how difficult someone is being on an ongoing basis until there have been several incidents, by which time disconnecting may feel like more trouble than it is worth. You may know that I now consider my first wife to have been a genuine sociopath (with elements of narcissistic personality disorder). And it could be said that I was crazy, both to marry her in the first place and to stay with her; but I have noticed over the intervening 33 years: I like strong-willed, determined, decisive women. The main thing I have learned is how to be far more careful about how I set my radar. Louie is certainly a strong-willed, determined, decisive woman, but this is still a completely different situation than the one 38 through 33 years ago. (My significant unrequited love of 1990-91 is also an s-w, d, d, and that is why I am chalking this very much up to experience *without* saying, "I made a terrible mistake." I was working on my radar's fine tuning.) And the bandleaders whom the other musicians consider to be difficult are frequently (90% of the time) the ones who are best at going out and getting gigs; this is another trade-off situation. As for your own personal situation, I don't know; you may be getting away with it in some situations and not others, and you can't please all of the people all of the time because nobody can. If you want to go into more detail, I may be able to go into more detail right back.

Nate
singlemaltsilk
May. 23rd, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
"Why can't I get away with it?"

What makes you think you don't? ;)

On another subject, would you like a visitor this weekend? Someone who could... oh, I don't know... maybe bring you a tasty lunch from Portillo's or something?
daisy_knotwise
May. 23rd, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
I don't think I am difficult. I think I'm too accommodating. I think that's one of the reasons that I am bothered by people who need things "just so" and don't do the work themselves.

Yes, some company this weekend would be lovely. Call me when you are not at work. Thanks!

GHR
daddy_guido
May. 23rd, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
Um.... "WE" don't put up with them.
alymid
May. 23rd, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
I wish I had the answer for you. I don't know if it is comforting to know you aren't the only one who feels that way.

If I had an answer it might allow me to re-wire my brain so I am less likely to deal with people who might be crappy. I have really had to learn the hard way sometimes.
poltr1
May. 23rd, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
I can only answer for myself. And yes, at times I've been one of those "difficult people".

I don't know when, but we gotta have that long talk sometime. Maybe over the phone.


jrittenhouse
May. 23rd, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Well, as with most other things, It Depends.

I have dear friends that I could never live with or work for in a million years, because they're too problematic in that close of a situation. Too many nervous tics, too demanding, you name it. So it Depends on how much interaction you have.

In some cases, we know that Factor X is something that sets us off, but that we're great pals otherwise, so we Just Avoid That. I don't talk about their sexual gleeps that I find upsetting, they don't talk to me about their half-baked political screed-of-the-day that they hold on to like a life preserver.

Sometimes, we know about insecurities and avoid them, and we'd better, or else we'd lose that friend. (Don't talk to her about her weight, don't talk to him about his luck with jobs.)

I don't find difficult people fun, as such. I avoid truly difficult people as Not Worth Dealing With in large part, or as Uncle Vlad would say: THIS IS A NO-PSYCHODRAMA ZONE. I know people who like lots of psychodrama in their love life (as exciting and thrilling), and I tell them that I've had enough for several lives, and decided that there are better things to do. Saner.

Maybe that makes me as exciting as an old sock. But my nerves thank me for it. To a certain degree, in all relationships, there's always a situation where there's a basic-pain-in-the-ass incompatibility, and you have to reason out the cost benefits. Which, of course, means that you'd better understand going in that This is the Person You're Getting, and never assume you can change them worth a cent.

If you know they have a terrible temper, can't admit fault, can't forgive fault given by you, are bossy and are totally unable to be satisfied with being faithful to one person, you're a fool to get involved with 'em. I've seen situations where the person who did then turns around and says - but I wuv them!

And that's the key. The je-ne-sais-quoi that is attraction. For some people, it's that the Other Person, despite their faults, brings in the dough (and plenty of it) and shares nicely. Or they're fantastic in bed, or they're famous, or you have the self-esteem of a dead carp and figure that you can't do any better, yadda yadda. Or there's just this fun twinkle in their eye.

Love and friendship involve a kind of personality magic that is just hard to explain.

And as for you - you're a horribly nice person. Always have been. Very kind, very helpful. People who Get Away With This rarely fit that mold, and more usually are bold as brass or just pretty self-centered. (Or just totally unaware of What They're Doing.) Nice People Don't Usually Act That Pissy.





Edited at 2008-05-23 09:34 pm (UTC)
oreouk
May. 23rd, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
to answer the last bit
Because you've already proved yourself not to be that kind of person so if you suddenly were now people would be shocked.

Because you wouldn't be happy with your behaviour if you acted like that.
smoooom
May. 23rd, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
I like how markiv1111 put it, there are trade offs. It's like negative people (which I fear I've become one of) As long as the good out weighs the bad I stay.

Sometimes, just latley, i wonder what sort of person iam. I'm not sure anymore.
spiritdance
May. 23rd, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
Off the topic, but I figured you should know: it seems that David has today what Michael had yesterday. Seems it's just as well we're at home ::sigh::
jeff_duntemann
May. 24th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
We do it because as much as we think we choose precisely whom we associate with, we don't. As often as not friends come as a package, and if you get any, you get them all.

We also do it because there's an upside to suffering fools well: They teach us things now and then, sometimes things we wouldn't have learned anywhere else. That's certainly been the case during my career in technology and in publishing, and I think it's true across the board. "Hang with smart people whenever you can" is good advice, but it isn't always easy to do. I've found that it pays off, however.

"Charismatic" is not always a good thing; in fact, a little charisma goes a long way with me, and I prefer to observe such people from a distance.

You get away with it because you are not difficult. You are, in fact, one of the most adaptable and least demanding people I've ever met, and I've known you, well, a very long time. (51 years!)
aimee_moran
May. 24th, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)
Because sometimes we want people to be predictable and comfortable, and sometimes we want to be surprised. Some people are like a fireworks display - maybe a little scary to be too close to, but my how much fizz and pop are in their lives!
I think we put up with them because they surprise and sometimes delight us, and also represent the courage I, at least, may wish I had. Especially if they happen to emotionally invite us along on their journey.
wyld_dandelyon
May. 24th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
I suspect we are all difficult from time to time, in one way or another. Also, what's "difficult" in one situation can be a bonus in other situations. I tend to like intense people. When they're intensely happy, or intensely working on a joint project with me, that's great. Of course, that means when they're angry or depressed, that's intense too, which can DEFINITELY be difficult!

Or one of my favorite examples is that whether a person "is showing willpower" or "is being stubborn" depends mostly on whether the person doing the describing approves of the other person's actions at that moment.
carolf
May. 24th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Here is a true-ism about human nature: No one does anything one does not want to do. We are always making choices, and each of us alone can make our choices.

So, why do I put up with a "difficult" person? Because either I gain something from doing so, or I hold on to something I would lose were I not to do so.

We may not -- in fact, most of us do not -- realize for ourselves the motivations behind our choices. When we do figure it out, it can often lead us to change our minds about our choices.

The truth is, we are all "difficult" in one way or another -- yes, even extremely nice, helpful, accommodating you. As others have said above, "difficult" is, like all attributions, subjective. Attributions, by definition, are untruths. Or at least not whole truths.

So different people "get away with" being various kinds of "difficult" for various reasons in individual cases.

Of course, there are those people who are "extremely difficult" to a wide number of other persons, and then it becomes easy to recognize the difficulty and walk away from it.

For the rest -- *shrug*

So, in the particular case that brought up this reverie: what was "difficult" and what did accommodating it give you/avoid for you? Do you really want to "get away" with the same thing yourself? Or is it you just want to get away from this particular case?

Whatever your answers: Ok. So, how you gonna do it?

Simplistic? Vague as hell? Think I'm calling you "grasshopper?" Guilty. It's just the best I can do with the question as stated.
athenawindsong
May. 25th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Howdy! I'm Dawn and I've seen you post comments on poltr1's LJ and would like to friend you (and add a comment of my own to this post), please feel free to friend me back if you wish.

It's my opinion that difficult people get away with it because those of us having to work with that personality would rather just "get stuff done" than fight about the details. It's not fair by any means, but it's effective. Personally, I don't find them embracable or charismatic, I find them a blockage to what *I* want to accomplish (speaking from mainly a work perspective) in my own sphere of influence. I accomodate a difficult person because I know down the line it will grease the wheels when I'm ready to step up and fight for what I want, too.

"Well, that's just the way he/she is" - to me - implies knowing the strategy that works in negotiation tactics. I find this kind of person to be a challenge, one I don't always want or like, but one I can at least predict.

Why can't I get away with it? I have to agree with singlemaltsilk here. How do you know you don't? Being manipulative is sometimes a part of the game, and not always in a bad way. When you know the rules, you know which ones are bendable and which ones are breakable. Of course, that's how I see things, YMMV.
lindaneely
May. 25th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
There's probably not one universal answer, but I think that sometimes we do it because the person is interesting. I have a number of friends who are not "easy" but they are never boring. And sometimes we do it because we know their backgrounds and understand why they are difficult about some things. My best friend for over 40 years is warm-hearted, witty, and loyal, but I can't count the number of times she has "finked out" at the last minute and failed to show up at dinner parties, trips to events, etc. Knowing that my friend has times when she loses every last iota of her self-confidence and self-esteem because she grew up in a family where she was constantly belittled plus knowing that she works hard to over come it enables me to just let the annoying part go.

Oh, one more, a number of the truly difficult people we've worked around over the years are married to people we adore.

As for you. . .I doubt you want to be "difficult". My guess is that you'd like to be more comfortable speaking up and not being imposed upon. You might try exercising more authority at the beginning of activities to be sure only responsible people are selected for any tasks you have to coordinate. My guess is you've been the position where you had to pick up the slack for some charming people who find, at the last moment, they simply don't have time to do whatever they've taken on.
catalana
May. 27th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
I think that frequently the difficulties aren't apparent to the people as a whole - most people see the shiny exciting part but not the difficult parts. So people put up with them because, in general, the difficulties aren't apparent.

(Of course, this works the other way, too. Sometimes people only see the difficult parts of a relationship, say, but not the good stuff; that can make them wonder why anyone would put up with that person.)
(Anonymous)
May. 28th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
"Love is all ya need ..."
Sometimes, a lot of times, it's just plain love. Love for someone or them, as they are, pain in the neck or not. And he, she, or they put(s) up with one when one is a pain in the neck. Love here means affection, friendship, or just ordinary caring (in other words, not sex in the city.)

Several terrifically loyal friends (in Chicago of course, where else?) have seen me through good times and bad time. And are *always* there.

But as JR says:
"In some cases, we know that Factor X is something that sets us off, but that we're great pals otherwise, so we Just Avoid That."
So - politics are off the table with Some

Or, as Catalana said:
"Sometimes people only see the difficult parts of a relationship, say, but not the good stuff; that can make them wonder why anyone would put up with that person."
Then - sometimes it seems that there is you (or I or another person) see something Lovable that no one else does. And, it's your or my (or someone else's) gift to love / care for that someone until his or her life takes a turn for the better.

Gosh knows you've taken care of a lot of us, those of us fortunate to have you as a good friend for a few or many years.
In turn, please take care of yourself and let me know what I can do to help you when I'm back up north, living in my dear city again this fall.
ValliG (aw, come on, you know only real one, for sure)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )