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Dealing with an Intense Person

Intense people can be invaluable...if you know how to bring out the best in them

Derrick Tyson, CC 2.0
Source: Derrick Tyson, CC 2.0

Intense people are off-putting, especially to laid-back types. But those hard drivers are some of our most productive people. Besides, you don't want to get on their bad side. They could turn their intensity against you.

Here are four things people say that annoy intense people.

"Lighten up. Calm down. Slow down." Not only do such admonitions invalidate their passion, they invalidate the person's essence.

"You're so intense." Even if the intense person apologizes for being intense, don't agree that s/he is. They're usually saying that to be polite. Few people actually believe they're as forceful as they are. And even fewer people want to face that.

"You're going to make yourself sick." Most intense people know their behavior is unhealthy. They simply can't control themselves any more than a laid-back person can make themselves driven.

"Excuse me. I need to (insert lame excuse to escape.)" Like everyone, intense people want to be accepted for who they are. Don't think that just because they appear strong-willed, they are unaffected by or unaware of your clumsy attempt to escape from them.

Getting the most from an intense person

Intensity can be a force for good. To harness that, when dealing with an intense person, don't compete with that or try to tamp it down. It won't work Instead, roll with it:

1. Let them talk and don't interrupt. Yes, it may feel overwhelming but try to listen for valuable substance, not their style.

2. Ask them questions, for example, "What do you think is the wisest idea?"

3. Feel and show them respect. Remember that despite a style that rubs most people the wrong way, their intentions and often results are at least as worthy as are those of laid-back people.

Note: You may find it helpful to read Living with Type-A Behavior.

More from Marty Nemko Ph.D.
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