3 core skills for avoiding problem people

There seem to be just a few key differences between individuals who are good at spotting and avoiding destructive and problematic people, and those who repeatedly get zapped:

  1. Competent people-evaluators notice how they feel around others, and get closer or withdraw in response.This gets them away from people who treat them poorly, and closer to people who treat them well. Over time, their life becomes filled with good people.
    Ineffective people-evaluators have learned to ignore, dismiss, or devalue certain information, including problem behaviors in others and troubling emotional responses in themselves. Even when they do notice problems, these individuals tend to get upset and complain, but not move away. That sends problem people the nonverbal message that it is acceptable to continue their problem behavior.

  1. Competent people-evaluators extrapolate what a person is likely to do (based on their observed behaviors, not what they say) then respond to the extrapolation.A person’s minor act of bullying suggests later bullying, probably expanded in range and intensity, so the evaluator withdraws — perhaps a lot.
    Ineffective people-evaluators tend to ignore small problems until they get big. They treat each instance of a behavior as unique, rather than as part of a pattern. Only when they have many examples of problem behavior, and those behaviors are extreme or having really bad effects, do they realize they have a serious problem.
  2. Competent people-evaluators recognize patterns of behavior. When they see a specific behavior, they ask themselves, “What pattern is this part of?” Finding patterns lets them distinguish between negative behaviors that signal a good person’s stress and frustration, and genuine ill will. Patterns also help them tell people who are consistently kind and loving from people who are kind and loving most of the time, but sometimes act cruel or destructive.

Over time, a person who practices these skills and gets good at them will learn to detect and avoid people who cause a lot of problems and turmoil. They will also become skilled at finding good people.

More information: How to avoid problem people


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