Problem People in Your Life and How to Deal With Them

Here is an example of a truly excellent problem solving method for dealing with problem people, and all you need is a pen and paper or a computer with word processing or spreedsheet capability.

If you have that person in your life who is draining you of time or energy or finances this is a great way to isolate their problem behaviors and to come up with potential solutions.

And it gives you concrete evidence if you find yourself arguing with them.

We recently used this process to get rid of a problem person in my life recently. I used him/her as my test case for the example below but changed some of the details and behaviors and ALL of the names.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

John in this case is my immediate superior.




Tells lies that he/she thinks or which are are impossible to confirm or deny

“I had the original “motherf^cker” gamer tag.” or “I played tournament games”.

“I did not receive that message”

Answer the ones you can – he apparently forgot that I have a friend who designs for EA games. She was gaming before he was born and she told me original Vicious tag was in 1987. He’d have been 6.

Apply vast amounts of salt to all other statements.

Use administrative “yes” but does not do the work.

“Be sure to X”

“Okay, sure.”

X never happens.

Not my problem. John’s.

Lies about essential things with evidence against him/her. Allergens for, example. I CAN smell them and have constant headache.

“NO I am not using any scent, there was this guy at …”

Talk to John.

(Did not work)

Build evidence. He smells after every shower – so must be applying scent.

Bathroom smells every time he uses it, must be wearing scent.

Studio reeks. Must be using scent.

Daniel smells him – scent.


Practices avoidance behaviors.

During a visit: “We are cooking dinner – since you are eating want to help?” I have to call kid. Or disappears until we are setting table and task is done and then asks “Can I help?”

Not my problem. Prefer to eat without him.

Uses flattery and correct lies or incomplete statements to make self seem kind and like a good person.

  • “I’m a Lutheran”

  • “I have ADD but I know it so I try to listen when people talk”

  • You’re a good guy, John.

  • Thanks for being my friend, Elaine

  • On a visit: “Awesome movie” – that I totally just texted through.

Grain of salt. A Lutheran with no Bible or work ethic? Um, no. Luther and Bob Y are Lutherans. I know how they act.

ADD but no meds?

John is a good guy but I trash talk him to you.

Thanks but I sneer when I say it?

Ignore it unless it becomes my problem. When it does talk to John.

Offers token gifts but avoids actual contributions.

Buys small token items but never offers larger contributions.

Not my problem. Deal with it if it becomes one.

Is racist but dances around it

“I’m not racist but” statements.

Disses people in movies with different colors or cultures– Isrealis in World War Z, also makes fringe remarks in small talk or uses derogatory phrases, “Jew me down”

Not my problem, not something I can deal with. If it becomes my problem, will deal with it. Avoid watching movies with him.

Emulates appropriate response

Knows when to laugh or smile but his eyes don’t. Aware of basic body language and uses it. Open stance, smile. Will avoid conflict by walking away or by texting/phoning.

Not my problem. When it is, talk to John. Warn John. (Did)

Criminal behavior

  • drugs

  • mooching off roomies

  • taking food, soap

  • stealing tools

Not my problem or battle. Deal with it when it becomes one. Warn John.

Shifts blame offers scape goat

Isom, customers wearing perfume, kid

Not my problem unless he uses me or John.

“Forgets” things, esp. when caught.

  • I forgot about the hair gel, aftershave.

  • I forgot about your sink.

Not my problem unless behavior is dangerous. Scent thing an issue.

  • Good at recognizing and backing the “alpha” dog.

  • May diss the boss but careful to do as the boss says within limits. Says horrible things about work but calls in.

  • Disses John but carefully.

Not my problem.

Vague about rules, times or omits things.

  • I am not sure how long I’ll need a [resource].

  • did not specify how long something would take

  • did not tell us that he obligatory meetings with a third party

Not my problem yet.

Test boundaries

  • Statements like “Thanks for these 30 days (to do something)” when you did not promise 30 days or really discuss time at all

  • how much scent can {I} wear

  • brings uninvited people with him/her on visits

  • more of his/her stuff in communal or even private areas each day

  • does not clean up and waits to see if you’ll comment

  • does not return borrowed items for short, then medium, then long periods

Mostly not my issue. Stuff that ends up in my space ends up in trash.

Avoid him when he smells, and report issue to John.

Careful to make his desires sound like obligations

  • I want a Q so – hey, remember all those times I helped you out when we were slammed

Remember that small favors do not equal big ones. So avoid offering anything large, permanent, or damaging to my reputation. Remember to say “no”.


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