The following is an excerpt from the Little Book of Big Jerks to give you a sneak peek at the types of jerks you’ll meet inside the guide to dealing with difficult people.
Just like everything King Midas touched turn to gold, everything Woeful William touches turns to, well, crap. This guy is a magnet for really bad luck.
His roof leaks. His car stalls. His pants rip. His cat hates him. At one time you actually had sympathy for the chap until you read somewhere that people with woeful outlooks actually cause their own bad luck. Now you just feel like shaking him.
3 Giveaway Traits:
Inspired a record number of sad country songs
Has had a long lineup of pets that hated him, died tragically, or both
Always has an empty chair on either side of him at group lunches and dinners
How to Deal:
Leave at least two empty chairs between yourself and him.
How Else to Deal:
Check out the cool jerk-fighting tools in the Little Book of Big Jerks. Real-life solutions for dealing with real-life jerks.
My mind was so blown when I picked up this tome that I started making art in its honor even before I turned the final page. Living the four agreements affords a fantastic way of life – but remembering to live them is a different story.
The Four Agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word.
Never take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.
One of the ways I ingrain the four agreements into my mind is to recall times when they went wrong, or the misery I felt before I even knew these agreements existed.
Here come real-life examples of the first two agreements gone wrong, with the other two covered in another blog post. Enjoy!
First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word
Words have power. Loads of power. And you can’t take them back once you unleash them into the world. Choose your words carefully. Live up to what you say. And proofread for typos before you publish anything on the front page.
Example of First Agreement Gone Wrong
The front page of the Brooklyn newspaper where I worked ran a mini-feature on a lost subway tunnel tour. The tunnel had been recently unearthed and was now open to the public.
Our front-page story was supposed to have said the tunnel had been “sealed shut” for a number of years. But it instead said it was “sealed shit.”
The lady who gave us the info was convinced we did it on purpose. She was so mad her yelling nearly broke the phone speaker when she called to complain. I still went on the tour, but I didn’t dare tell anyone I was from the newspaper.
Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
Someone cuts you off in traffic. Another moves your computer to sit at your desk. A third says you remind him of his dog. No, the world is not out to get you. Even the people who are seemingly saying or doing things that are directed at you aren’t out to get you. People’s actions and reactions are a reflection of the state of their own mind and soul, not yours.
Example of Second Agreement Gone Wrong
Another newspaper story comes to mind here, but one that happened much later when online comments first started getting popular. Those things were nasty from the get-go, and they only got nastier as time marched on.
One online story I wrote resulted in a massive attack from all angles, with commenters calling me names, bemoaning my very existence, and telling me how I should be thrown off an overpass and run over by a Mack truck.
My first reaction was to cry and hide. I was, after all, a terrible person who deserved to be killed by an overpass-Mack-truck combo. But then I started looking more closely at all their nasty words. Many of the commenters referred to me as “he” or “him,” while others were attacking things that didn’t even relate to me, like blond hair or having a pet kangaroo named Sam.
Right then and there I realized that, even when you appear to the target of a slight or attack, it’s not about you. It’s about the other person. They’re the ones with the rage, self-righteousness, intolerance or other issues that twist them into a snit.
You’re really not part of the equation at all. You just happened to stir up their snit-making feelings. So it’s too bad on them – not you!
While this agreement is one of the toughest for me to live, it’s also one of the most freeing. Whew and yahoo when I get it right. And although I did once have blond hair, I never had a kangaroo named Sam.
The idea of a party can sound like fun. But you get there and feel like a sore thumb. Being charming and keen in social situations doesn’t come easily for many folks. Even just being in social situations can fill some with fear. Rather than hiding under the hors d’oeuvres table feeling awkward, use these three tips to sail through the fete.
Be of Service
No, you don’t have to go scrub toilets or dust the chandelier. But you can look around to see if there’s anything you can do to help someone else. Perhaps the host needs help bringing up extra chairs from the basement. Or the party guest with three toddlers needs a hand getting to the table without spilling all her guacamole on the carpet.
Any little thing you do to help someone else not only feels good, but it performs the magical achievement of focusing your attention on something other than your own whirling sore-thumb thoughts.
Find a Kindred Spirit
Scope out the room to find someone who appears to have something in common with you. Then head on over and bond. Choices can include someone who:
Has the same bright red hair color
Wears funky glasses
Is donning a shirt or hat from your favorite sports team
Looks even more uncomfortable than you are
The last choice is consistently a sure bet, especially if you kick off the conversation with the simple truth about how awkward or uncomfortable you feel. You may just make a new best friend for life.
Remember the Self-Absorption Rule
One of the reasons you may feel awkward is because you fear you may say or do something stupid that will haunt you for the rest of your adult life. Stop it right there. You can free yourself from the fear by recalling the self-absorption rule.
The self-absorption rule confirms that 87.3 percent of people are generally so self-absorbed and caught in their own spinning thoughts that they wouldn’t even notice if you said or did something stupid – or frankly, anything at all.
The other 12.7 percent? Well, they’re probably drinking and wouldn’t remember any stupid antics either. That leaves you totally clear and free to dance naked with that lampshade on your head!
Seriously, though, these three tips can help immensely when in an awkward social setting, even with your clothes on. I know because I use them myself. And if all else fails or the tips seem too tough, I have one more fallback that works to get through awkward parties every time. Just start playing with the dog, kids or cat.
Wondering how to deal with other situations, like encountering jerks? Get 12 terrific lifesaving tips from rynski’s Little Book of Big Jerks.
You know those days. You wake up annoyed and cranky, ready to drop-kick anything that gets in your way. What the heck is going on? There’s a good chance you’ve been invaded by the Jiminy Crankball.
What’s the Jiminy Crankball?
The Jiminy Crankball is a small, fuzzy invasive species that makes people cranky. He usually crawls in through the left ear, first infiltrating the brain and then moving throughout the rest of the body.
How You Get It
The Crankball species is especially adept at pinpointing weaknesses and certain circumstances that are basically begging for members to invade. These include lack of sleep, being hungry, or getting a $290 parking ticket in Phoenix.
Any annoyance that disrupts your normal routine can invite the Crankballl, as can stepping in cat puke and listening to bad house music.
Oh yeah, you may as well set up lawn chairs for the Crankballs during the monthly womanly thing. That’s when they come around in swarms.
How You Get Rid of It
The only way to eradicate the Crankball is to address and resolve the weakness that let him enter in the first place. Get some sleep. Eat some treats. Deal with the parking ticket. Get back into your normal routine. Clean up the cat puke. Shut down that godawful music. Take a hot bath and a nap.
What Else You Need to Know
Crankballs are highly tenacious, breed quickly, and are extremely contagious. Let them fester in your body for days on end, and you’ll end up surrounded by people who are equally as cranky as you are. It’s like going to work when you have the flu only to infect the whole office.
If you’re not sure of the exact weak point that let the Crankball in, try extra sleep or a healthy meal anyway. You can also talk to others about your crankiness. Crankballs prefer to live just under the skin in the dark. When they’re subjected to attention, laughter or light, they tend to rapidly flee.
Need more helpful hints for dealing with difficult things? Check out the rynski guide for dealing with jerks.
This is an open letter to Local First Arizona after 19 of the Arizona businesses that attended the Fall Fest each ended up with $290 parking tickets after parking in a dirt lot as instructed by Local First AZ.
The violation? Parking on Non-Dust-Free Lot or Area.
Talk about having a teed-off, 117-mile ride back to Phoenix that evening!
Please Note: The headings were not part of the letter sent, but added to make it easier to read.
Here Comes the Letter
I am one of the 19 Local First Arizona vendors who received a $290 parking ticket from the City of Phoenix after parking in the lot at 1102 N. Third Street as specifically instructed by Local First representatives. As you know, this ticket was issued on Nov. 4, 2017, to a number of vendors attending the Arizona Fall Festival.
The ticket was accompanied by a note from your organization instructing me NOT to pay the ticket and to instead request a hearing.
Since the note stated that Local First AZ would help us businesses fight the ticket, I am confident your organization will indeed provide assistance since this fiasco is in no way the fault of the vendors who were following your precise parking instructions.
Double Woe for Tucsonans
Because I run my writing and art business out of my Tucson home and making the 4-hour round-trip drive to Phoenix would result in loss of full day’s loss of wages, the assistance I require includes:
Requesting a court hearing on my behalf
Showing up for the hearing on my behalf as a representative as I cannot sacrifice yet another day to drive to Phoenix and back
Successfully fighting the ticket at the hearing, explaining how Local First AZ is responsible for the parking violation since the group instructor vendors to park in the aforementioned lot
Payment of the $290 fine by Local First AZ if the hearing is not successful on behalf of the vendors
Triple Woe for One-Woman Show
I am a small, single-person operation. Attending the fair required a lot of time, effort, energy, resources and money. While the overall experience was satisfactory, that satisfaction was quickly annihilated upon finding a $290 ticket jammed beneath my windshield wiper after the event.
While Local First AZ is an organization aimed at helping local Arizona businesses, this parking ticket fiasco hurts them dearly. I do hope your organization steps forward to correct the problem on behalf of the handful of local businesses that were merely following your instructions.
All the Blah Blah Enclosures
Attached please find a copy of my vehicle registration and the parking ticket. I am NOT mailing back a request for a hearing, as the ticket indicates this action should be taken ONLY by registered vehicle owners who can show up in court (or risk a default judgement being taken against them).
For Local First to request a court hearing on behalf of the registered owner of the vehicle, the ticket says to:
Call 602-262-6785, press 3, then 2
Please confirm you’ve received this letter and that the actions outlined are part of the Local First strategy for helping the businesses to which you’ve promised assistance.