WHEN DALE CARNEGIE WROTE his classic book
on human relations, How to Win Friends and Influence People,
he left out a chapter; it wasnt finished on time, so the
book was published without it. The chapter was supposed to cover
the subject of dealing with people you cannot win with.
For most people, when you treat them fairly,
they treat you fairly in return. But as you know, there exists
in this world a small percentage of people who will simply take
advantage of you when you try to treat them fairly. There are
people who will play games with you, deceive you, and some who
will actively prevent you from making your relationship work.
Carnegies unwritten chapter was for the times when somebody
has to go to jail, be spanked, divorced, knocked down, sued in
Even beyond those extreme cases, every
once in awhile youll get stuck working with or having to
interact with someone who continually brings you down or in some
way makes your life difficult. They may seem to be very
nice people. They might smile and come across with a lot of charm.
But the end result of your interactions are: Youre worse
off. You try to make things work, you try to be fair, and you
get the short end of the stick every time. Youve tried
to talk with them, perhaps, and it doesnt make things better,
and they probably make you feel bad for saying anything.
I have no fancy methods for dealing with
these people. You cant really deal with them. If theyre
doing something illegal, you can certainly call the police, but
most are too clever to do something illegal. My wife uses a good
analogy in her speeches. She says trying to make things work
with these people is like trying to wrestle with someone who
is covered with mud: Youre going to get muddy. No matter
what you do or how well you do it or how noble your intentions,
youll get muddy.
So instead of trying to make things work
out with these people, the goal is to avoid dealing with them
at all. Go for minimal impact. Have as little to do with
them as you can get away with (without causing yourself trouble).
Ideally, you would eliminate them from your life completely.
Stop calling, stop visiting, stop being nice. You dont
have to be mean about it. Just fade them into the background
and then all the way out of the picture.
I know this isnt a perfect world.
Sometimes youll have to keep interacting with someone who
wont let you make things work. So go as far as you can
to minimize their effect on your life. Talk to them as little
as you can, look at them as little as you can. Focus your attention
on your purpose and on the rest of the people around you.
When you come across someone and nothing
works with him, cut your losses. Dont waste any more effort
trying. This is a big world full of wonderful people and a few
bad apples. Concentrate your attention on the good people and
waste as little of your attention as you can on the ones who
bring you down. You can do it a little at a time and it will
improve your attitude. And if it improves your attitude, its
good for your relationships with your family and friends, and
its good for your health.
Try not to waste too much of
on people who bother you.