People Who Don’t Deserve Your Time
Don’t waste a minute more on them than you already have to.
Nobody has time for anger. And yet, certain personality types just trigger the hell out of you. So what can you do?
Me personally, I can’t stand arrogance and rudeness. But also laziness. And willful ignorance. And whining. And obliviousness.
Otherwise, I’m pretty chill. No, seriously.
The maddest I got this year? One of my colleagues decided to shame us at a meeting for not supporting the department bake sale. The chair of the bake sale task force read our names off a list and gave us that look. You know, the smug “get your shit together like me” look. The level of importance she placed on a bake sale raised my body temperature an entire degree.
Instead of throttling her, I’m writing about how she’s not worth my time. The world overflows with these people. The ones built to get under your skin. The ones happy to waste a day bickering over trivia. The ones who will never change. Learn to spot them quickly, and you’ll do yourself a huge favor by getting way ahead of them.
People Who Trivialize Your Experience.
They always know more than everyone else. They’ve lived through everything. And their sob story trumps yours. Their ideas are the best. They don’t want to learn new things. They want to teach everyone else.
Of course, they’ve always been like this. Probably since high school. So they really have no knowledge to teach anyone. They also have no ideas, only criticism. This doesn’t stop them from commandeering every conversation. From typing those extremely long, condescending comments on your stories. They love discussion boards. And Twitter.
The more you argue with these people, the more important they feel. They will always respond with a pearl of wisdom. It’s a fake pearl. But they don’t know that. So don’t bother with them.
People Who Want to be Offended.
When you’re offended, you feel good about yourself. Moral and righteous. And you allow yourself to judge someone else. Expressing offense takes almost no effort. You insult someone, and you’re done. It feels downright productive, expressing your views on something.
Some of us learn to reserve our outrage. But your cousin, or that friend from high school, they’re always looking for a fix. They’d love nothing better than to send long screeds back and forth all day, where one of you tries to make the other feel guilty about a political opinion.
These people aren’t actually offended by you. Or anything you did. They’re just looking for someone to get high with. Leave them alone.
People Who Shun Self-Awareness.
This category probably contains all the other people who aren’t worth your time. Some of humanity simply can’t help it. They don’t have the genes for self-awareness, and you can’t judge them too harshly. As someone on the spectrum, I remember the struggle to learn how my words and actions affected other people.
But too many privileged assholes with perfectly good brains train themselves in the opposite direction. They decide to ignore the consequences of their behavior. They justify it aloud. Excuse themselves. They expect everyone — even the neuroatypical — to accommodate them.
Over time, lack of awareness becomes a habit. You might have to deal with these people. Even compete with them. But changing them? Fat chance. You’re better off just beating them.
People Who Won’t Teach Themselves.
Some people with perfectly good brains don’t use them. They ask for the same help and advice over and over. In their view, everything you know was spoon fed to you by someone else. Will you please show them how to use Dropbox again? You owe them, for some reason.
Most of the knowledge and skills we acquire come from books and websites. From casual remarks. From stuff we overhear at a bar. From observing other people and imitating them. From long nights in front of a computer. From mistakes. From strings of trial and error. The most excitement in our lives happens in the Tony Stark moments — when we figure out how to do something we considered impossible.
And then there’s the kind of person who ignores all our advice, then blames us when things don’t turn out that well for them. The people we feel tempted to keep shepherding, despite every signal they can take care of themselves if we cut them loose. Maybe we should. It would free up our attention to focus on the ones who really need our help.
People Who Make Everything a Crisis.
Real problems demand a calm approach, and a level head. That’s a duh fact for many of us. But we all know someone or three who isn’t dealing with their real problems. They’re freaking out over something insignificant. They enjoy the spectacle of their own meltdowns.
Sure, someone might fall into a real pit. Maybe they’ve pulled you up in the past. Now it’s your turn to help them. How do you tell? In my experience, the people in real trouble ask you for something specific.
When I’m in trouble, I just need someone to listen to me and bounce ideas off of. I’ll tell them up front that’s what I’m after.
But some people can’t ever handle the world. They never help anyone else, because they always need your support and encouragement and understanding, and maybe a little bit of money. Their life is always blowing up, and they’re the ones lighting the fuse.
People Who Break Their Promises.
None of us can keep every promise we make. It’s cool. But some love to make promises they have no intention of keeping. They don’t make promises out of a need to help others. They make promises because it makes them feel powerful. They pronounce their promises, often in front of other people. They’ll spend hours bragging about all the people they’ve helped.
You can usually spot the difference between someone who feels bad about breaking a promise, and a pathological promise giver. A decent person tends to remember their promises, and apologize. They’ll admit to letting you down. A pathological promise giver doesn’t remember what they told you they’d do, because right after you left they made five other promises.
Almost everyone has accidentally placed their trust in a pathological promise maker. They screwed you over, and got angry when you tried to hold them accountable. In truth, you can’t. They’re immune to guilt. The next time they make you a promise, just smile and nod.
People Who Don’t Have Time for You.
Sure, we all get busy. We move. We lose touch. We make plans that fall through. A normal person makes some effort to reconnect.
How do you tell if someone’s not making you a priority? Easy, they expect you to come to their favorite bar. Their side of town. Conform to their schedule. Hang out with their friends. You’re the one always texting them. They always show up late. If you can’t entertain them, they get irritated.
You’d be surprised how easy these people are to ditch. Just stop texting them. Stop going so far out of your way to be their friend. They’ll forget about you in a week. Problem solved.
People Who Aren’t Happy for You.
This lot might even include family, and people you mistook for friends. Sure, it can hurt. One of my friends spent weeks complaining about why her mom never congratulated her on anything. Finally, she realized — like I did. It doesn’t matter that much.
Recently, I mentioned my promotion and tenure to my dad. He doesn’t understand what it means, and I can’t explain an accomplishment that doesn’t come with a raise. You can see that he wants to be happy, but he doesn’t know how. So I don’t worry about it.
Your success probably inspires everyone except your close friends and loved ones. To them, you’re just you. And you always will be. You’re never going to impress anyone who’s seen you in diapers, in bed, or drunk.
People Who Actually Deserve Your Time.
Anyone you enjoy talking to. Anyone you admire. Anyone you can learn something from. Anyone who respects you.
Anyone who has interesting ideas or opinions, and can talk about them without lighting a torch.
Anyone who thinks differently.
Anyone who takes care of themselves, mainly so they can help take care of the rest of the world.
Anyone who starts out giving advice like this: “Well, I’ll tell you a story about something similar that happened to me (or someone I know) and how we managed to deal with it…”
Anyone who gives a shit about you, but doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Well, I think that about covers it. Spend your time on these people, and they’ll return the favor.