The following is a previously published article from May 5, 2010.
I was all set to write a piece on privacy, but it can wait. Instead, I’m going to vent a little about toxic people. Sound good? Great!
In everyone’s life, there are SOPs –sources of pain. This is my diplomatic term for those individuals who, for whatever fcuked up reason, no matter how nice you are, no matter how hard you go balls to the wall for them, it’s just never acceptable or enough.
They have two moods: sullen & surly, so don’t even think about using humor to ingratiate yourself into their good charms OR appealing to the better side of their nature. These people tend to take way more than they will ever give and justify it by telling themselves (and you) that they are having a bad day, etc. It is never their own fault that they act like a shitheel, you see. SOPs believe their toxicity is caused by other people and situations, so hey, abracadabra! They’re not to blame.
SOPs can be pretty much anyone – co-workers, classmates, neighbors, friends, lovers, spouses, relatives and other. These folks weren’t always difficult, but at some point, they became bitter and/or unhappy with some aspect of their lives, and, instead of dealing with it and resolving the problem, seek instead to find someone else to take it out on. Essentially, they’re not in control of their lives, and, have no interest in rectifying that issue, so being a source of pain is what they’ve settled for.
Naturally, SOPs are never shitty to other SOPs because another SOP wouldn’t put up with it. So the SOP finds and/or comes into contact with the one person in their life who is kind & courteous. Maybe that person is just a nice guy or gal. Or maybe, they happen to have feelings for the SOP. Or maybe they’re related to the SOP. The scenarios are infinite. The bottom line is that the person simply wants to get along for the sake of getting along. And SOPs resent that person for being pleasant; Misery loves company, after all, so a positive person is a diametrically opposed personality to the SOP.
Note here that when I say get along for the sake of it, I’m not referring to a doormat. You’re not a doormat simply because you realize that being an asshole 365x24x7 is mentally taxing. Not to mention, it practically guarantees enough bad karma that not only will you be reincarnated as a hissing cockroach, but will be squashed and/or eaten by something larger at the exact moment you realize that if you wouldn’t have been such a bag of douche, you probably would have had a better chance of returning as something a lot less loathsome.
Since SOPs tend to almost always be passive aggressive, you can expect to encounter obstinacy every step of the way with these people. And while numerous business management and/or psych books have been written on the topic of identifying and dealing with them (and I’ve both read my fair share as well as have dealt with and continue to deal with SOPs) I’ll save you some money and time by ID’ing a few choice behaviors as exhibited by them.
Won’t return a phone call, email or a text message
Completes tasks grudgingly, late, and incorrectly
Feigns loss of memory or provides some other lame ass excuse as to why a deadline and/or task was not completed on time if at all.
When doing something nice for the SOP, non-dysfunctional people usually only expect kind words in return. But not only does the SOP not bother to even mumble a half-assed “thank you,” they don’t even notice that you’ve done anything for them in the first place. The attitude of the SOP is that since s/he did not ask you for whatever nice thing it is you did, you are therefore, not entitled to anything. Not kind words. Not courtesy. And certainly not respect.
The non-dysfunctional person typically ends up feeling like an idiot who keeps issuing free passes to the SOP in an attempt to demonstrate patience & understanding. He or she keeps waiting for the day when the ingrate will extend a modicum of common fcuking courtesy, or some other acknowledgment (either tangible or intangible) because that’s what would inspire confidence in the SOP and/or satisfaction with the relationship. But of course, that day never comes. SOPs withhold indefinitely whatever it is the non-dysfunctional person desperately wants because that is passive aggressive behavior at its fundamental core.
The longer non-dysfunctional people are exposed to SOPs, the worse the situation becomes. And if you’re not careful, you could end up an SOP in your own right. What you have to realize is that you will never change these people because they are the only ones who have control over their own behavior. Furthermore, they’re not going to change because of you or because you’d like them to. They have to want it for themselves period.
If you happen to be in a relationship with or related to an SOP, that makes the situation a little on the prickly side, but you’re going to have to limit your exposure if you want to keep your peace of mind. Sure, you could try sitting them down to have the conversation, but seriously, if you’ve read this far, then chances are, you’ve already gone down that road and reached the cul-de-sac many times. At some point you have to know when to say when and cut your losses.
Maybe the SOP will realize on his or her own that you’re not as available as you once were. And then again, maybe they won’t. In which case, it’s not your problem. Because if the SOP does not see the value in keeping you around, then there is nothing you can say that will persuade them to the contrary. They are simply not worth wasting anymore of your time with.
Life is too damn short to spin your wheels on a sheet of ice with an SOP who neither appreciates nor values you. It may sound harsh, but you’re not doing some noble deed torturing yourself with an SOPs boorish behavior. There isn’t some great reward waiting for you, so it’s best to either restrict the SOPs access to you and/or just cut it off clean. Game over.
What do you think? Feel free to share your own anecdotal evidence of an SOP in your life or on the way out.
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