Handling People Who Act Entitled

This is the second of a two-part series. Click here for part one

Dear Neil: I have recently declined opportunities to spend time with my father, and I told him that it was because he has been acting very entitled, and is therefore not a very enjoyable person to be around. I wasn’t rude, but I explained how I felt and I set limits on what I would accept. The end result is that my dad apologized and changed his behavior so he could be with me. Also, a tenant I rent to will be getting the boot in 3 months, even though she has said that she loves the place and wants to stay. Acting demanding and rude has cost her staying at the place she wants, and I will be more than happy to share with her why she isn’t getting an extension or a longer lease agreement. I am simply going to remove her, and maybe I will teach her a bigger lesson at the same time.

Learn how to deal with people who act entitled. It doesn’t work to threaten or punish them. But you can set effective limits on them and their behavior.

Setting Limits in New York City

Dear Limits: Whether we know it or not, we teach people how they may treat us every day. Setting effective boundaries is simply being clear about what your expectations or requirements are, because people who act entitled tend to not listen to what other people feel or want. As a result, it may be necessary to be unambiguous and clear-cut about what you are asking for, expecting or requiring.

And don’t take their actions personally, as hard as that may be to do. A person who acts entitled is not doing so simply to irritate you or to be selfish. The entitled person very likely feels inferior or that s/he doesn’t measure up. Understanding his or her behavior in this context is one of the keys to dealing with it effectively.

To illustrate the point, think of the behaviors that you associate with a healthy adult with reasonably good self-esteem. Some of the characteristics of such a person may include self-control, the ability to delay gratification, being dependable and reliable, able to take personal accountability and control his/her words or behaviors, has a sense of gratitude, can cope with adversity, and can cope with disagreement—to name a few.

Now think of the characteristics of a person who acts entitled. The words you are likely to use to describe that person include demanding, blaming, shaming, has a need to be right, has an intolerance of criticism, has a hard time acknowledging fault or errors of judgement, and has a tendency to overstate abilities and accomplishments. If you look closely enough, you will notice that this person is very insecure and has low self-esteem. That’s why he needs to continuously build himself up or she needs to put other people down and be so demanding and self-centered. Secure people with positive self-esteem don’t need to prove to the world how great they are. Insecure people do.

You can’t have a good relationship with a person who acts entitled. A relationship requires that both people’s needs, wants and desires are treated equally important. Someone who acts entitled will place their wishes/needs above yours.

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