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Edwin

I lack shrewdness and tact

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I lack shrewdness and tact. It shows, and it is obvious.

 

I am always the victim, because people are constantly tempted to manipulate me.

 

I know they are manipulating me, but I only know drastic responses to being manipulated: to burn bridges, to sink boats, to shrug, to be lazy, to procrastinate.

 

I can't handle people who manipulate me without offending them.

 

Should I change? I have switched around 5 jobs because of this. It is easy to get a job but hard to keep it.

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What would be one of the simpler examples of this type of situation? How would a really shrewd person have reacted in the example you provide? How would a slightly shrewd person have reacted -- i.e. someone just barely shrewd enough to not be manipulated? How would such a person have managed to avoid being manipulated without offending others? If you can provide and example wioth some such details, it'll help make this more concrete.

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Examples:

  1. A relative/friend of mine asks me to practice a certain religious rite. I do not believe in the said religion. A shrewd person would navigate his way out of this predicament, without causing undue & permanent opposition.
  2. A couple of friends wants to borrow my bike from me. I know they do not borrow bikes from others, and are asking me because I am easy to be manipulated. A shrewd person would be able to exit from this situation by cracking jokes which are not meant and taking it lightly.
  3. My client tries to change the project requirements when my manager is not around. They wouldn't try that on my manager because he is shrewd. The only way I know to fight this is with a response that will help me earn their permanent hatred.

Don't tell me I shouldn't be afraid of people. I have tried not being afraid of people. And they hurt me in unison. Now I am just passive aggressive.

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Don't tell me I shouldn't be afraid of people. I have tried not being afraid of people. And they hurt me in unison. Now I am just passive aggressive.

Most of your (and my and other people's) personality and reactions have been repeated over and over in all sorts of situations that you're not going to change it overnight.

I had a boss who was a push-over. Then, he attended a Dale-Carnegie class. When the weekly meeting was too full of people saying they'd missed deadlines, or something similar, he would occasionally just blow up, losing control. It was uncomfortable for everyone, but nobody was really offended. Instead, the common reaction was: "Agree to anything he says for the next 10 minutes, and he'll be a push-over soon enough". By the next meeting, he had had a week to stew in the thought that he had flown off the handle and had shouted more than he ought to, had plastered some people unfairly because he was upset with others, etc. So, it was a pretty good chance that the bad apples went back to their bad behavior and slip ups, until the next blow up.

Would you have any advice for such a person? How should he handle things if he wants to be almost the softie he is, but just make a few changes that make his job better?

Wanted to add: In the end, the company fired the boss, and kept some of his bad apples.

Edited by softwareNerd

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... I have tried not being afraid of people. ...

I guess my next question would be: where are you along the scale from being a total push-over to being mostly in control?

When you're asked for your bike, are you going "sure", while cussing inside? Or, are you unresponsive to show your disapproval, but then give an "okay, take it" shrug? Or, do you say "I don;t like lending my bike" and give it to them with that said? etc.

The same for changes from clients? Do you just accept them without telling them how you feel, knowing that they know anyway? Or do you register a mild protest of some type?

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Would you have any advice for such a person? How should he handle things if he wants to be almost the softie he is, but just make a few changes that make his job better?

 

I would ask him to always think about his own welfare, and analyze every situation carefully before agreeing to or accepting it. He will need to practice, because he is prone to turning the other cheek and accepting what the world is doing to him. If he thought deeper he wouldn't need to blow up at the last moment, he will be able to blow up in slow motion, nip the problems he would face if he let things be, and stay in control.

 

where are you along the scale from being a total push-over to being mostly in control?

I am either a total push-over or a control freak.

 

 

When you're asked for your bike, are you going "sure", while cussing inside? Or, are you unresponsive to show your disapproval, but then give an "okay, take it" shrug? Or, do you say "I don;t like lending my bike" and give it to them with that said? etc.

 

A part of me does ask me to be analyze and do what is good for me when giving the bike, but I refuse to do what is good for me, and turn the other cheek.

 

I guess I have turned the other cheek for so long, I am unable to not do it.

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The same for changes from clients? Do you just accept them without telling them how you feel, knowing that they know anyway? Or do you register a mild protest of some type?

 

In case of the clients too I am too lazy to think if something is a new request, or already included. People are so covert and manipulative always I am too tired to fight each of their stratagems, so I agree to everything they say, until I start passively protesting when they want more and more.

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A part of me does ask me to be analyze and do what is good for me when giving the bike, but I refuse to do what is good for me, and turn the other cheek.

What do you do exactly? Do you give your bike enthusiastically, with a "sure, take it... no problem"? Or something a little less enthusiastic.

You say you cannot change, but maybe you're aiming too high. If you think you really cannot refuse, start by aiming at something less than refusal. Only you can decide what exactly that means: perhaps it just means giving your bike less enthusiastically; hopefully, it will be something a wee bit more: e.g. "I really don't like lending it, ... ... but okay"

In case of the clients too I am too lazy to think if something is a new request, or already included. People are so covert and manipulative always I am too tired to fight each of their stratagems, so I agree to everything they say, until I start passively protesting when they want more and more.

If you think you're not quick on your feet, try postponing your response: "Let me think about this and get back to you", "Let me see how this fits with other things; I'll get back to you later today", or... even if you accept most of it, perhaps you can push back a wee amount: "I'll do these 99 changes before the end of the week, but let me get back to you on this one change"

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What you describe is a textbook lack of assertiveness.  It isn't a matter of shrewdness (since you already know intellectually what the right course of action is), and tact is involved only because you show too much of it or because this is your euphemism for the real issue.  Fortunately, help is at hand.  The first method to try is brute willpower.  By the time people are asking for help they've usually tried this without success, so I'll move on quickly.  Next, in ascending order, are self-help books, support groups and psychotherapy.

 

I've faced this and still do to some extent.  I wish you every success.

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As softwarenerd said, these things often take a while to change. They don't change overnight. But, if you begin to understand the underlying premises that cause you to feel the way you do, you can begin to replace those underlying with more correct premises. And over time you should see your emotional reactions change, until one day when you realize that you don' feel any pressure at all to react the way you are reacting now.

 

So what are those underlying causes? I'm going to tell you what I think they are, broadly speaking because I don't know the particulars of how you're feeling and what you're thinking, of course. I know you asked not to be told that you shouldn't be afraid of people, and I'm not going to tell you that. That's only a surface issue, anyway. What I'd think is better is to ask what is the underlying cause of the emotion.

 

And the answer is (for most people most of the time) a deep-seated need for approval from other people. We all have this. It's been designed into us by evolution. Here's the short explanation: Because we are a social animal, we have learned to survive by living in groups. A tribe of humans could survive better by working together to gather food and supplies, to build shelters, provide protection from predators. (As an aside, I'll just mention here that this is nor a moral case for collectivism. Society of any type is only moral if people are free to work together willingly, without coercion.)

 

So because survival is at stake, we have developed a strong psychological drive to gain approval from others in the tribe. Some bit of irony is that those people who obviously are trying hard to gain approval from others, often come across as weak, needy, and annoying, and usually don't gain much approval. And those people who don't seem to be concerned with approval at all, but are otherwise socially intelligent, will gain tremendous amounts of approval. They may even make him the new tribal chief! :)

 

So here's the real key. Practice learning to stop seeking approval from others. Period. Approval can and should only be granted by one person -- yourself. And approval should be granted based on the ethic that you live. If you know what you believe and whom you are, then believe what you believe and be whom you are. And if you are living according to your ethic, then you ought to grant approval to yourself. This is easy to say, hard to do for a while. But over time, the more you mentally go over it and work at it, the more you will find yourself not needing or seeking or caring about other people's approval.

 

You still ought to learn social intelligence. That's a different matter. But you're not trying to be socially intelligent to win approval. You're being socially intelligent because it's a skill to relate to people and is a tool to improve your own ability to survive and thrive.

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Just before I graduated from college, I stumbled upon a quote by the poet Carl Sandburg, "The greatest cunning is to have none at all."  It just clicked -- and I've followed it pretty much for the last 25 years.  Honesty is a great "weapon".

 

When you lay your cards on the table, and let people know what you rationally want and expect out of a situation, you are challenging them to be openly irrational.  Most will respond positively from this "tactic" because they don't want to appear to be unreasonable in either your eyes or their own. 

Edited by New Buddha

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