Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A.

Just Listen

Preview of Talking to Crazy

How to deal with the irrational and impossible people in your life

Posted May 24, 2015

This is the Swiss Army Knife of self-improvement books! Whether your “crazy” people live with you, work with you, or just go to the same supermarket, here is a detailed way to work with them, neutralize them, and even, possibly, get along with them and enjoy the process. A must for anyone who deals with other people – in other words, this should be on everyone’s nightstand, well read, dog-eared, underlined, and marked – not collecting dust on a bookshelf.

– NetGalley reviewer

When I tell people the title of my next book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life, (due out October 21, 2015) nearly every (at least somewhat rational) person smiles.

When I ask them why they're smiling, they reply:

  • "I need that book today"
  • "I speak to someone like that every day"
  • "Do you have a section when the crazy person is yourself?"
  • "How soon can you get me a copy?" (needless to say more than a few people will be receiving advance galley copies)

I then realized that October can seem like an eternity from now when you have to "talk to crazy" on a daily basis.

So here is a taste of some of what you'll read when the book comes out from Chapter 19: The Kiss-Off - Saying "No" to a Manipulator.

Oh and before I tell you, I don't mean the title to be making light of a serious and significant mental illness for which there will be a chapter at the end. The book is meant to help you deal with many of the people in your life (including you) who are not truly mentally ill, but who just drive you nuts.

Now for a tip to use with people that try to manipulate you either with guilt or by alarming you about a situation where they are trying to pawn off their responsibility for dealing with it on you.

And for a little more...

  1. Know who they are ahead of time and never expect them not to veer into their manipulative mode when they want to get you to do something that is actually their responsibility but they want to get out of.
  2. Hold a part of yourself back in conversations with such people so that when they cross over into manipulation mode you aren't blind-sided or pushed off balance (something they will often do as "foreplay" before they zoom in to guilt-trip or alarm you).
  3. Look them squarely and directly (but not confrontationally) in the left eye (which is connected to their right emotional brain) with a look that tells them that you are on to them.
  4. After they say whatever they have to say, keep looking and pause for a couple seconds and then calmly say (without one scintilla of "cat who swallowed the canary" glibness, sarcasm or condescension): "Hmmm, from what you say, it will either: A. get worse; B. get better; C. stay the same; or D. none of the above. (pause) Hmmm? do you think I left anything else out?"
  5. Then just be calm and still and let them say whatever they say in response and when they finish, repeat what you said with: "Hmmm, like I said, it will either: A. get worse; B. get better;  C. stay the same; or D. none of the above. (pause) I'll tell you what; let me know what happens because I need to get back to what I was doing."
  6. Then just calmly say, "Goodbye," and leave.

As with all the stories and tips in the book, make sure you play it through in your mind to make sure that you don't make the situation worse.

More to come in October.